The Future of Retail – an Open Letter to Store Managers




Have you wandered around the latest shopping centres lately? What are your thoughts? What are you seeing? What will they look like in five years’ time? What does the future of retail look like?

The certainty we face is constant evolution. Constant change. Different dynamics.

I fell in love with it when I stumbled into it as a career straight from school. Visions of “action alley” from Sam Walton and a constant thirst for research and knowledge possibly made me a retail tragic. Just under 30 years in the game the evolution to our customer experience has been one of the major changes I have seen. The blurring of the lines between physical retail and online connection. How technology has improved at astounding rates, all the while making it easier for both the customer and the retailer. The reliance on print media, catalogues and television advertising has lessened as the smart retailers etch out social media branding to build their tribes.

And looking around today, it's vastly different from when I started, and changing daily. Just look around the latest shopping centre or upgraded mall in your town and you soon realise that it's so much more than putting stock on a shelf, it's so much more than stacking it high and it's so much more than kissing it goodbye.

It is also now much more than an experience. And we compete against other experiences, not just other retailers. Our relationships with customers is built on that experience and the trust they have in us delivering that experience.

One thing still stands out. With all the talk of omni-channels, retail touchpoints, sales and marketing funnels and social branding to build customer connection, the Store Manager is still a vital ingredient in delivering.

In fact, I would say the Store Manager is the most important to a retailer. And truly they are the future of retail.


They hold in their hands the execution of company strategy. Where the rubber hit the road is where success or lack thereof is usually measured. The rollout of strategy is a critical KPI for the Store Manager. 

The best social media connection and engagement strategy won’t matter if the customer has a conflicting experience in the store. The strength of the store manager lies in their ability to connect with the customer and to engage their team in this process.

This is significant. There are many surveys that highlight the challenge all businesses face in engaging their customers. Some surveys have this level of dis-engagement as high as 81% and most seemed to highlight that at least 70% of our employees are in some way disengaged. So in real terms, if you lead a team of ten at least seven are in some away disengaged in their work.

And if you lead a team of 100, that’s 70 disengaged. And that’s on the positive side of the survey equations.

Think about your team. Think about your frustrations. What drives them? What are they?

Strategy takes retailers so far. Online engagement takes retailers so far. While online sales and media helps build engagement, connection is cemented instore.

So Store Managers the challenge is thrust. Can you uphold this vision of being the Future of Retail. It comes with great responsibility but like everything the best will thrive and soar. The best will rise above the pack. And how will they do it.

The best store managers will develop themselves to:

  • ·         Master their self-leadership

  • ·         Drive team engagement to supreme levels

  • ·         Connect with the customer to breed customer loyalty and sustainable satisfaction

  • ·         And never accept the status-quo

  • ·         Be the best professional store manager they can be.


Retail will always have a future. The certainty is that it will continue to evolve, continue to develop experiences and continue to compete against other entertainment and experience industries. The line will continue to blur for an overall customer experience between online and physical and the best store managers will be the ones that enhance the customer experience with an engaged team.

Will you be one of them?

Will you LEAD-ENGAGE-CONNECT ?

Tony Curl is a leadership coach and creator of The Store Managers Club a  global mentoring membership designed just for you, Store Managers who care about their careers and their customers. He is an international certified coach with global experts like Dr John C Maxwell and Dr Steve Maraboli. His company Leadership, Life and Style is acknowledged for Building Better Leaders, Delivering Better Results. 

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