Retail department managers oversee the daily operations of their part of the store. For example, typical departments in a retail clothing store include men's, women's, shoes and accessories departments. Other types of stores might have appliance or computer departments. A department manager is expected to know and supervise her employees as well as their products and services. The minimum requirements are a high school diploma and previous retail experience.
Retail department managers supervise the employees working in their areas. They help plan shift schedules and train new employees on company policies. They also either educate new workers on the basics of their individual jobs or delegate this responsibility to someone who is established within the department. In addition, department managers are in charge of making senior management aware of any disciplinary issues involving employees, such as poor attendance, chronic tardiness or poor customer service skills.
Department managers focus on displaying their section's products so they are visually appealing and lead to better sales. They help set up plan-o-grams and determine where certain items should be positioned within the department in relation to other items. They also work with outside vendors to help them display their individual products in the most effective way. A department manager might handle all the merchandising himself in a small store, or have a team of merchandisers on board in a large store.
Retail department managers are responsible for monitoring sales numbers. They regularly check sales reports and analyze what is working successfully in their departments -- and what's not. They typically work with upper management to look for weak spots and strive to correct those. For example, sales might be low on an item that is too mature for the department's main demographic. In this case, department managers might discontinue the item and replace it with something more age appropriate. To be effective, department managers must stay current on customer trends.
Customers are the lifeblood of retail establishments, so department managers must ensure the satisfaction of their patrons. They watch over checkout lines to make sure they are flowing well and not overcrowded. They are also called upon to reconcile issues a customer might have. If a customer tried to return an item that was purchased in another store, for example, the department manager may be called on to come up with a resolution.