Retail Assistant Store Manager Job Description

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A truly important role in today's retail environment, the assistant store manager spends his or her time working at the front lines where all the action takes place. The retail store manager or store owner makes the plans and strategy for the store, but it is the assistant store manger who carries this out. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "key holder" (incorrect because what we expect and need from an assistant manager is much different than a key holder) this position maintains the service culture of the store while the manager is off or away. 

Skills Required:

  • People Skills. Ability to keep employees motivated to do the things necessary for the store's success. You must be able to balance praise with correction. The better your people skills, the better you can develop your team. 
  • Leadership Skills. Will the employees follow you? Will they willingly submit to your authority? This comes from your leadership skills. 
  • Autonomy. Something every employee wants, but only few actually deserve is autonomy. An owner needs to be able to leave the store and know that it is in good hands, safe and secure. But he or she also needs to know that the customer experience is in tact as well. In other words, that there is no drop-off in the level of experience in your stores when the owner is not there. The assistant manager has a vital role in maintaining that experience for the customer and the employee. 
  • Selling Skills. The assistant store manager is a sales leader in the store. They must be able to demonstrate personal sales performance for the team. 
  • Time Management: This is two-fold - managing your time as the assistant store manager and managing your staff's time. The store manager creates schedules, orders supplies and writes reports, but the assistant store manager executes on all of those plans.  
  • Decision-Making Skills:  When dealing with employees, customers, owners or other managers, you will have to make decisions that either negative or positively affect the profits of the store every day.  An assistant store manager must be confident in his or her decisions and be quick and efficient when making them. 
  • Math: Retail is a numbers game and the better equipped you are to analyze and examine the numbers the higher your success rate. A store manager and the assistant store manager should be expected to be able to read, interpret, analyze and plan strategy from P&Ls (profit and loss statements.) 
  • Speaking and Writing: A more direct way of saying communication skills, a store manager needs to be able to articulate his or her vision, plan and strategy for the store. Not only should the store manager be comfortable in front of a group, but his or her spelling, grammar and diction need to be top notch as well. Employees follow people who can inspire. 
  • Service Skills: Every week, a customer is going to ask to speak to a manager. Not only does the assistant store manager's skills need to be well honed when it comes to dealing with customers, but his or her ability to teach others (see training above) is paramount. The store manager is responsible for creating a culture of service in the store and the assistant store manager is responsible for keeping it. 

Education Required:

While many companies will require a bachelor's degree for competency specific roles, the best part about retail is that you can prove your skill and value to the organization without a degree. There are only a few degrees (among the thousands) that prepare someone specifically to be a retail manager. Most managers have spent years working as a sales associate which is the best preparation to manage. However, don't let years of experience trump the skills listed above. In other words, just because someone has been in retail for a long time, does not mean he or she is ready to lead others. 


Typically, compensation for an assistant store manager role runs from $25,000 - $35,000 per year. The broad range is due more to the number of employees and size of location than anything else. Although, good compensation plans have large incentives to earn extra income for performance. The assistant store manager should be compensated for his or her ability to generate sales and profits in the store while maintaining a high service culture. Unlike the store manager, the assistant store manager should be compensated for his or her personal sales. He or she is the sales leader and should be treated as such.