Massey grads ready for a new world of retail

What do you want from a degree? How does this sound: “employable, work-ready graduates who have a good understanding of the industry and its connections to other disciplines”?

Sounds like a great result to us, and what every student (and parent) might hope their degree study and effort will produce.

That’s the description being applied to the first students to graduate from Massey with the new Bachelor of Retail and Business Management degree.

The country’s first degree programme focused just on the $85 billion retail industry (that employs over 300,000 New Zealanders) was started four years ago at Massey. It was designed to fill some major skills gaps, especially in retail management, buying and merchandising, and digital.

Why a specialist retail degree?

Professor Jonathan Elms, head of Massey's retail programme, explains the difference between the specialist retail degree and a regular business degree.

“A general business degree teaches marketing, research and strategy, but very little on logistics, supply chain management, buying and merchandising,” he says. “ That’s been a big gap because you can promise the consumer the world through marketing, but if you can’t actually deliver the goods, you have no business.”

Around 180 students are currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Retail and Business Management at Massey. These students are learning the skills for success in the rapidly changing retail sector that is adapting all the time to the new demands of an online world.

The retail shop is still the home of the brand experience, providing a level of personal customer service and a direct experience that can’t be matched online. Even online giant retailer Amazon is opening stores, as they have recently done in Australia.

Do you have what it takes to succeed in retail?

 SchoolLeaver’s Top 8 Retail Skills

1. Attention to Detail

From changing money correctly to knowing if items are in stock, or being displayed at their best – detail is vital.

2. Business Awareness

Understanding how the company or industry operates, the products you’re selling and who is buying them, market trends, marketing initiatives and more.

3. Communication

Listening and speaking clearly and effectively with people, greeting, explaining, helping…..all are based on your communication skills.

4. Customer Service

Listening, understanding, helpfulness, problem solving, even your body language skills (eg. eye contact, smiling) all combine to build your customer service skill set.

5. Information Technology (IT)

IT skills needed in retail include analyzing data, helping customers online, operating point-of-sale systems.

6. Interpersonal Skills

You need to keep your friendly face on, be patient, flexible, friendly and outgoing. Applies to customers and your workmates.

7. Numeracy

Numeracy is a vital skill in retail. You need to be able to calculate prices, add up discounts, make change for customers, count inventory, use data and more.

8. Selling Skills

Retail workers must be persuasive and persistent with customers, convincing them that certain products are worth purchasing. Sales skills can convert buyers into loyal customers, and will always make you popular with your managers.