Select Page

Thinking of growth and expansion in retail, there is always a tendency to lean towards the marketing aspects of it. Then we begin to consider many organic and inorganic growth strategies. But that is only one aspect. Another critical aspect is operational planning. It is naïve to assume that an expanded business version is manageable when there are struggles with the existing state of operations.

As retail and eCommerce consultants, YRC has witnessed many retail enterprises seeking business growth and expansion. And none with poor operational planning ever made it to the other side. Even with one additional store, operational improvisations are necessary. And prudence says that it is better to address the operational issues before they become a dragon.

A retail store gets good at its job when it operates proficiently and in a planned and organised manner. Let us say a departmental store is capable of delivering 100 orders per day without a strictly-defined process. Now say that this process is mapped and defined using SOPs. The flow of work and operational standards get established. Employees get a defined operational roadmap. Now they can execute their duties with lesser supervision. The loopholes or deviations in the existing order fulfilment operations become more easily identifiable. This kind of planned operational certainty has a positive impact on process capabilities enabling businesses to do more out of it. The curated process itself becomes a source of light to correct other business processes like purchase, inventory, warehouse, logistics, automation, etc. It also helps in resource redirection. It gives freedom to business owners from the routine operational affairs of their stores.

Further in this blog, we shall see how retail stores can improve their store operations and use enhanced operational capabilities as a platform for business growth and expansion.


Departmentation is one of the important management principles that all retail businesses must implement. For retail stores, this departmentation is nothing but the functional partitioning of their main business processes or operations. It serves two key purposes – building a better organisation and specialisation. Various departments in retail stores include procurement and inventory management, warehouse management, cash and accounts, sales and merchandising, logistics and home delivery, CRM and customer support, marketing and business development, HR, finance, etc.

Is departmentation necessary for all retail stores? What about a small retail store? Organisational design and structuring are fundamental necessities applicable to all organisations including retail or eCommerce enterprises irrespective of the size and scale of the business. In the case of small retail enterprises, workflows are shorter with possibilities of overlapping. In such cases, a department may comprise even one person.

Departmentation or functional segmentation helps retail stores become organised. In the event of expansion or addition of new stores or more business volume, having a well-structured organisation makes it easier to scale operational capabilities in a planned and systematic manner.

Process Orientation

Every department in a retail store plays a certain function. For example, the purchase and inventory department ensures that stocks are always available in the required quantities. To achieve this, the orders have to be placed on time. The reorder quantity must be known or derived. Communications with the right suppliers must take place. Someone has to be assigned these duties and responsibilities. This whole series of operational activities is a process. When this process is mapped and defined using SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), what needs to be done gets established. The employees would know the workflow. The operational and administrative requirements at every step are established with timelines. SOPs further help to secure interdepartmental coordination. The same thinking can then be applied to all the business processes of a retail store. The outcome is a network of processes to manage and execute the retail store operations. This is a stage of attained process orientation. When the need arises, these SOP-based processes could be replicated with higher conviction and confidence in new stores with localised improvisations.


We tend to get futuristic thinking about automation. But automation is not confined to robots taking over business operations and we could home. Automation in business is also taking the help of technology to aid operations. Technology could aid operations with its ability to handle more transactions, derive complicated insights from data, send notifications on mobile phones, and in a thousand other ways. Yes, self-driving warehouse vehicles are also included.

In a retail store, automation or technological solutions/features includes bar code scanners, digital payment, cashless checkout, shopping website/application, ERP-BPM software, analytics, IoT and SMART technologies, robotics, AR/VR, smartphone notifications, order tracking, etc. The technology strategy and selection of solutions for a retail store depend on its business requirements and objectives. For example, big retail supermarkets often experience heavy footfall on weekly sales days. Automated checkout is an ideal solution to address the issue. The same technology may be unfeasible for small retail stores.

As retail consultants, we always emphasise the early adoption of suitable automation and technological solutions. It drives the ability of retail stores to level up their operational superiority much required for growth and expansion.

For example, by clubbing small orders from each locality (within the delivery zone), local grocery and departmental stores can expand their customer base. This is possible by creating/customising their shopping app/site and letting customers know about the expected delivery date/time before order placement. Internally, a minimum total order volume could be set for each locality. Required insights could be generated via the use of analytics software.

Strong middle-level management

The middle-level management comprising managers or team leaders or senior executives, in the context of a retail store business, is the bridge that connects the ideas and decisions coming from the business owners or the top-level management with the operations level and the operations executives. In a small business, it could be just the store manager. For larger ones, it could be the functional heads spearheading different departments or sections. These positions are vital for the operational capabilities of a retail store. These are the positions that control the operational performance of the respective departments/functions under their aegis. These people act as a support to the business owners so that the latter would not have to meddle in the routine operational affairs of a store. With a strong support system and operations management, business owners could spare the time and space needed to focus on higher business growth and expansion goals.

Professionalism in HR activities

Common HR activities like hiring, pay, training, compliance, exit, benefits, etc. are so rudimentary that sometimes in small setups business owners carry them out with a general proficiency or understanding of the field. There are business implications of not applying the best HR practices.

Take the example of retail store owners complaining about high attrition. The question also goes back to them. What did they do to prevent people from not leaving their jobs? Was the pay competitive? Was suitable training provided? Is the work culture productive and encouraging?

An organisation cannot strive for growth and expansion in business if it does not have a stable and productive team.


What are some of the common problems in retail store operations?

Top four challenges – Demand forecasting, maintaining inventory, inability to fulfil delivery orders, and retaining skilled staff.

What are the operations of a retail store?

Procurement and returns, quality control, inventory and warehouse management, logistics and delivery, shelf management, cash and accounts, staffing, fixed assets management, housekeeping, safety and security, waste management, CRM, etc.

How to optimize your retail store operations?

Key steps
· Departmentation
· Process Mapping
· Development of SOP-based store operations manuals
· Store Layout Planning, Warehouse Layout Planning
· Use of technology and automation solutions
· Organisation Design and Team Management

What are the 5S of retail operations?

Systems, Staff, Stock, Space, and Shoppers

About Your Retail Coach (YRC)

We are a 10-year-old retail and eCommerce consulting enterprise with rich experience in providing business solutions to 500+ clients in 25+ verticals. As a brand with a growing international footprint, we endeavour to maintain world-class standards in our service design and delivery. Our projects are handled by professional retail operations consultants.

To know more about our retail operations consulting services or to speak to one of our retail and eCommerce consultants, please drop us a message.

Author Bio

Rupal Agarwal

Rupal Agarwal

Chief Strategy Officer

Dr. Rupal’s “Everything is possible” attitude helps achieve the impossible. Dr. Rupal Agarwal has worked with 300+ retail e-commerce brands and companies from various sectors, since 2012, to define their growth strategy, push their limits and improve performance efficiency. Rupal and her team have remarkable success stories of helping brands achieve 10X growth.

Get In Touch


    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

    In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

    Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

    YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.


    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)


    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.


    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.


    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.


    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.


    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!


    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.


    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.


    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.


    Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.


    Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.


    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.


    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.