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Speaking of growth and expansion in business, the emphasis tends to be on marketing-related aspects. Being in the domain of retail consulting, our experience tells us to focus on the operational aspects as well. While marketing ingenuity can show direction but good operational planning takes care of the implementation part.

With a weak operational framework, retail enterprises are restricted in multiple ways from achieving their optimum potential. Retail businesses that operate in unplanned and vague ways lack confidence in their operational capabilities. For example, they cannot make polished assessments of how much additional business they can handle with their current resources. In that situation, any effort towards business growth expansion only on the merits of marketing is bound to fall short.

As a team of experienced retail consultants, we never stop emphasising the merits of having SOP-based retail store operations manuals. This blog explains further.

Replicable Operations

You can replicate an action or activity with more confidence and accuracy when you know it very well. Something similar happens to business enterprises when they function with the certainty of operational planning.

Retail businesses can replicate or expand their operations with more confidence when they have stable and proven operational planning in place. When they open new stores or experience surges in business volumes, the certainty of the existing operational planning provides them a solid standing.

Take for example a retail supermarket store that maintains a well-planned home delivery process. The store will be always confident about serving other locations or handling more orders with the same process. Minor adjustments may be called for but the basic workflows would already be present in the form of retail store SOP manuals.

Flexibility in Making Operational Changes

Changes in operational planning are necessary to carry out business activities under new conditions. It need not be only for growth and expansion reasons. Changes in the business environment also necessitate changes in operational planning. Irrespective of the reason for change, making any major operational adjustment is difficult in an undefined framework.

Using the same example from the previous point, if the supermarket store is executing its home delivery process without following any operations manual, it would become difficult to identify the areas where operational changes are required.

As retail and eCommerce consultants for over 10 years, we always maintain that giving effect to such operational adjustments is easier when operations manuals are already in place.

Groundwork for Retail Automation

Retail store operations manuals or retail SOPs also become the foundation for the implementation of best-fit IT solutions.

Take the example of software solutions used by retail enterprises. The software platform that would best fit the needs and priorities of a retail enterprise cannot be identified or developed by replicating competitors or even industry standards. Every business has its own requirements which despite being within the industry parameters vary from organisation to organisation.

Zeroing down to the final decision on software selection first involves identifying the required technical features and functionalities of the software. These inputs come from the operational definitions or the operations manuals. The operations manuals provide information on workflows, process owners, resource requirements, credentials and authentication for various decision-making, etc. These specifications in turn dictate how the required software solution must function.

Measurability of New or Extended Operational Requirements

Before opening new stores or expanding the operations of the existing ones, retailers must be in the know-how of the new and/or additional operational requirements. And doing this is not possible in an undefined operational environment. Knowing or being able to predict is one thing and being able to precisely map the new operational requirements, workflows, and standards is quite another.

For example, if a new store is anticipated to garner more footfalls, the same level of manpower allocation as in other stores may not work. The required information and insights come from the operational and performance standards defined in the existing operations manuals.

Assists in Franchise Expansion

Franchising is one of the most popular and effective business expansion strategies. Today, we no longer need to use the example of any business giant or MNC to highlight the general success of franchising. Many emerging local businesses have proliferated their operations with a network of franchisees within their city or state limits. But like any other business expansion project, franchising too comes with its own set of requirements. Franchisors need to put measures to safeguard their brand name and reputation when handing over franchising rights to another business entity. Apart from broad policies and principles, franchisors may also define the operational framework and standards within which franchisors must operate the business. And to achieve this, franchisees are provided with operations manuals. But this works only when the franchisor executes business with a defined operational framework. It is only when they know, they could prescribe others.

Helps in Attracting Investments

In any organic growth and expansion, securing investments is one of the toughest challenges. The strength of ideas alone is not sufficient to woo investors. Every now and then, they come across many investment proposals. And if an investor is a veteran, s/he would not take much time to see through the loopholes of the business ideas placed before them. Investors also need to see how that idea will perform at the implementation level. A business plan accompanied by a sound operational vision is of great help. It is a good idea to pass the message of SOP-based operational precision with the business plan. With SOP manuals backing the operational planning, it becomes easier for potential investors to trust the operational readiness of a proposed business venture.


What is a retail store operations manual?

A retail store operations manual is a handbook of workflows for various business processes and operations carried out in/by retail businesses. It also contains the operational standards to be maintained for every task. It identifies the process owners and defines the timelines. Please visit our blog page to read more on this subject.

How to design a retail store SOP manual?

It is a long process. But we can help you develop the SOP manuals or the store operations manuals for all the business functions of your retail store or chain.

Why choose YRC for developing retail SOP manuals?

We have ten-plus years of experience in this domain. Our solutions are based on time-tested and proven principles and methodologies with the feature of detailed customisation. We deploy expert and experienced professionals in our projects. With a flexible organisational design, we also serve remotely. Please visit our website to know more about us and our range of services and solutions.

About Your Retail Coach (YRC)

We are a retail and eCommerce consulting enterprise with over ten years of experience in providing business solutions and services to 500+ clients in 25+ verticals. As a brand with a growing international presence, our prerogative is to maintain world-class standards in our service design and delivery. We engage professional and experienced retail consultants.

To know more about our retail SOP consulting services or to speak directly to one of our retail operations 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.

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    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.