What Does a Retail Project Manager Do?

by | Jan 21, 2022

If you’re a traditional retail store owner, you already have work cut out for you. First, you have to fend off competitors chomping at the bit on your store’s success. 

On top of worrying about mom-and-pop shops within the exact location, e-commerce stores and virtual shopping are probably taking a chunk of your customers and target audience from your back.

At this point, you have no choice but to expand your business or take it online. Doing so allows you to compete with online stores that take the lion’s share of the market.

However, this is easier said than done. Pivoting one’s local operations online is a huge undertaking. And the person who can help facilitate the smooth and seamless transition is a retail project manager.

The question now is, how does this person perform all these tasks?

Retail Project Manager: A Primer

Before we talk about what a retail project manager does, we must first discuss what a retail project manager is

This manager type is responsible for developing and executing a plan that meets the retail store objectives over a period. In this case, s/he must coordinate the migration from local to online retail store and everything that goes with it.

Another type of retail project manager is responsible for building new stores in different locations. Their goal is to get the store up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If you’re thinking about hiring either type, you’ll want to make sure you’re grounded in the basics of retail marketing strategy so that, as you and your prospective retail project manager discuss your new venture, you can be sure you are aligned on a strategic level. 

Like any professional project manager s/he will rely on project management software, which not only organizes steps and timing, but prevents important steps from falling through the cracks.

Unlike your typical project manager, a project manager in retail must understand the ins and outs of the business model as a whole. In particular, after developing the project deliverables, s/he must focus on effective change management. 

For instance, once the move from local to online retail is set into motion, the project manager must devise ways to generate new customers from your website and perform reputation management to preserve and protect your brand’s good name in the online world. More importantly, from there, s/he must ensure that placing orders from the site is as easy as processing in-store purchases.

So, What Does a Retail Project Manager Do?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, below is the step-by-step process that a retail project manager can do for your store, whether you’re moving your store online or setting up one at a different location. Although your project manager will start with the big picture, they will break each of these areas into hundreds of smaller tasks that they control by using highly detailed project management tools.

#1 – Develop the Goals in Line with Company Mission and Objectives

The first thing the project manager must do here is to determine the methodology and lifecycle the team plans on running the project. 

The choice will depend on a variety of factors such as project complexity, the flexibility of the work environment, and your team’s overall capacity. That’s where workload management comes in, so you meet your goals without burning out your team. For example, if you wish to initiate the change as quickly and possible and make iterations down the line, your project manager may decide on the agile framework. 

Ultimately, there’s no wrong answer here, but choosing the best methodology that coincides with your business values will produce the best results faster.The project manager must also be in constant search for new and better opportunities to pursue project tasks based on their progress from their chosen methodology. 

Finally, every experienced project manager knows they will be judged on meeting the company’s objectives and achieving its key results. That’s why they’ll rely on the best project management tools, choosing the one that best fits your particular retail venture.

#2 – Organize Team Meeting and Updates

A quality that separates an effective project manager from the rest is communication. Getting the project team and the stakeholders on the same page regarding the project and its progress is vital to the success of the undertaking and will dictate how the newly established store will perform over time.

First, the project manager must run productive team meetings. The purpose of these meetings is to get updates about the task statuses of the project and allow the team assigned to different tasks to solve problems together. 

The project manager will also have to run a different meeting engaging with stakeholders (whether as a  group or one-on-one) to update them with your progress. This meeting allows the higher-ups such as yourself to either give your support to your project manager or ask them issues and how the manager plans on resolving them.

In this case, expect to receive briefing packs or update papers from the manager. These make you and other stakeholders aware of what’s happening with the project.

The frequency and duration of the meetings will depend on the project manager and their methodology. Teams using the agile methodology may require daily meetings, especially if the tasks are urgent and require completion at the earliest time available. 

#3 – Supporting the Project Team

Another quality that any organization should look for in a retail project manager is making themselves useful in any way possible. This applies when the project or change team is short on labor or needs more direction with the task at hand. 

The meetings should keep the project manager abreast of the teams’ project management KPIs. Receiving updates from everybody allows the manager to reach out and apply their expertise to the issues they’re facing.

Also, the manager needs to work cross-functionally externally as well. This means lending their help to IT, suppliers, commercial, property, and operation teams that require their skills or project information.

One of the most important tasks for a retail manager, especially at the start of a new venture, is scheduling the retail staff. Small things, like confusion about a shift swap or someone calling in sick, can throw a big wrench in the works. So, many retail project managers install retail scheduling software into any new store’s operations from the very beginning. 

At the end of the day, the project manager is responsible for whatever happens. S/he will be accountable if the team fails to complete the project on time and at the expected quality. So, it’s in their best interest to make everything work under their power and do whatever it takes to finish the tasks and the project.

#4 – Review and Gather Information

Part of a retail project manager’s job is to review documents related to the project.

Is the project going along as planned? Are all your assets, from network to customer data, covered by your risk management plan throughout the process? If you’re using project management software, are there bottlenecks in the process that are keeping the progress of your teams at a standstill?

Finally, do you have a point-of-sale system that makes placing and fulfilling orders online and offline convenient?

These are questions your project manager must deal with and must eventually communicate with you.

Finally, the retail project manager must visit other stores and channels where the retail business operates. This allows them to gather feedback from employees or workers regarding the operations. Also, the manager can adequately set expectations from the project after completing it after what s/he observed.


The success of your retail’s grand plans hinges on the kind of retail project manager you plan on getting. The project manager must properly fulfill any of the steps above and with care, and they must be knowledgeable enough to choose the right software and tools to support your new venture’s objectives and strategy. At the same time, you can expect an open line of communication with them regarding the team’s progress on the project.

If the person you hired can come close to becoming the retail project manager they should be, expect your brand to sustain its level of success moving forward, if not overtake your competitors both locally and online!