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Organizational Patterns of a Retail Business

    Organizational Patterns of a Retail Business

    hand drawing a flowchart

    What you’ll learn to do: Describe the organizational patterns of a retail business

    Varying sizes of retail businesses utilize different organizational patterns and organizational charts. Each level of a business from executive to floor staff of a retail business need to have a job description, and clear outline of the duties.

    From the smallest local store to national chains and diversified retailers, insuring clear job descriptions and hierarchy are imperative to an effectively running business.


    • Explain how organizational structure determines the activities that specific employees will perform
    • Describe the typical structure of a single-store retailer, national chain, and diversified retailer
    • Name some key divisions of a retail business and the people who head them

    Organizational Structure and Employee Activities

    As with any business, the organizational structure of a retail chain will depend considerably on the type of store and its size.  Retail stores generally have numerous types of employees who do a multitude of jobs. Starting at the top of a national chain’s organizational structure a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), also sometimes called the President of the company, makes the major decisions for the business such as what wholesalers to buy from and where new stores should be built.  “The role of the chief executive officer (CEO)… consists of planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting is arguably the most important and influential in an organization.”[1]

    The next level of hierarchy in the organizational structure of retail, who report to the CEO, is management.   In the management sector general manager, assistant manager and regional manager are a few of the types of management titles held within the retail organizational structure.  “The top managers of an organization will develop social capital through a variety of personal relationships with their suppliers, customers, competitors, trade associations, government’s political institutions and community organizations. This capital can then be used for the benefit of their organizations.”[2]

    Organizational Structure Determines Employees Activities

    The organizational structure of a retail store greatly determines what the daily activities and tasks that specific employees will perform. If the retail chain is for instance, a furniture store, then human resource personnel would want to hire warehouse workers who are physically fit enough to lift and move heavy or large merchandise.  Although warehouse personnel’s jobs characteristically have no set educational requirements they are an integral element of the structure of a retail business. “With the rise of e-commerce, while these “traditional” retail job numbers (cashiers, store clerks and stocking crews) are indeed shrinking, there is an accompanying rise in “non-traditional” retail jobs, like warehouse personnel and delivery drivers.”[3] While a warehouse employee would not be expected to file tax forms on behalf of the company or report on profit sharing, such as a CEO would, it is a vital sector of the organizational structure.

    Other general titles which are interchangeably used within a retail setting are cashier and customer service representative.  Cashiers, merchandising and floor personnel would need to be personable and capable of dealing with the general public as their jobs consist of conducting point of sale transactions and assisting costumers.  Just as one would not expect a warehouse worker to perform the duties of a CEO, you would not expect a cashier to explain a personnel handbook to new employees as expected from the human resources division. A cashier’s daily duties are to greet customers, operate cash registers, bag merchandise, use scanners/scales and handle the types of transactions one would experience at a checkout counter such as returns, the loading of gift cards, etc.  This requires accuracy and some basic math skills, for that reason, when hiring for cashiers these are characteristics a retail manager should look for in a prospective employee. Thus, retail managers rely on the organizational structure of their company to determine which employees will fit cohesively into each particular job position.

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