What is a retail management course?

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Find out what’s covered in a retail management course, which is designed to prepare you for the diverse and innovative retail sector.

The retail industry is vital to the UK. According to the latest government figures, it employed 4.3 million people in 2013, 15.8% of the UK workforce, and contributed £180 million to the UK economy last year, 11% of the total.

The retail sector is an incredibly varied and dynamic sector that’s constantly adapting to consumer needs. Recently revolutionised by the arrival of online retail, its businesses can vary from small, one-man operations to vast international organisations.

All of these retail businesses, big or small, online or on the high street, need to have organised managers in place to run efficiently and profitably – and that’s where retail management training comes in.

What is a retail management course?

A retail management course is designed for anyone interested in working in the retail sector, for retail industry employees who want to develop their career in management, or simply anyone who wants to know more about the world of retail.

What types of courses are available?

You can study retail management at many levels, including:

  • In-house training and development
  • Diplomas and Foundation Degrees
  • Undergraduate degrees
  • Masters degrees
  • Top-up degrees

What will I learn?

Courses vary depending on where and what you study, but because the retail industry is innovative and dynamic, it’s always very engaging. The goal of a retail management course is to prepare you for a management role within this expanding industry. You’ll learn how to manage the entire retail management chain. A typical course involves:

  • Examining the retail management process as a whole – encompassing online and mobile retail, as well as in-store and multi-channel retail chains
  • Understanding the wide variety of functions within the retail sector – including logistics, marketing and advertising, buying, finance, procurement, logistics and merchandising
  • Studying contemporary factors that affect retailing – including technology, social and ethical issues, globalisation and trends
  • Understanding the consumer – looking at consumer behaviour and the marketing techniques that influence human behaviour, encompassing economics, personal preferences and culture
  • Strengthening your management skills – including your analytic and problem solving skills
  • Studying the competition – getting to know how a range of retailers operate, compete and implement their retail marketing techniques

Can I learn on the job?

While many retail managers work their way up from the sales floor, it’s easier to land the job if you have a degree. Understandably, some employees are reluctant to give up their existing retail jobs, and salaries, for several years to study for a degree qualification.

Work-based distance learning (WBDL) courses, like the University of Lincoln’s WBDL Retail Management Degree course (a two-year top-up degree), are designed to allow retail employees to attain their degree qualification while remaining in employment. Degrees like this are specifically tailored to fit in with your existing job and employer, taking into account and accrediting your previous retail experience. Studying online and in the workplace gives you flexibility, makes the course affordable, and it allows you to keep a foot in the door in a sector where real-world experience really counts.

What can I do with my qualification?

Once you’ve qualified with a retail management degree, your options are many and varied. You’ll be prepared to manage across a whole range of retail organisations – from banks and supermarkets to online retailers and fashion outlets. Your qualification will propel you forward, whichever retail area you want to work in. You could choose to:

  • Progress within the retail organisation you already work for
  • Enter a retail organisation at a higher level
  • Establish your own small business, and see where it takes you

The University of Lincoln Work-Based Learning top-up degrees will help you achieve your career goals and obtain a qualification with a global focus. Find out more about the Lincoln WBDL programmes.


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