There are a variety of retail management courses that range from an entrepreneurial focus to visual merchandising to technology and information systems. Those who pursue education in retail management typically aspire to become some sort of leader in a store location or a behind the scenes buyer or analyst at the corporate level. Degree programs that offer retail management courses include associate's, bachelor's and master's. In addition, there are also diploma or certificate programs and online, distance learning options.
Retail management courses may be taken as a part of a business administration degree. Choosing the best courses depends on the individual's future career aspirations. If a management position in a store is desired, taking general courses in retail distribution, management and marketing in conjunction with core business classes may be the best route. Store leaders and managers usually need to be acquainted with general business and finance concepts and can gain industry specific knowledge on the job.
Those whose aspirations include being involved in the merchandise planning process might benefit from taking retail management courses in purchasing. These courses focus on identifying the right product mix, how to locate suppliers, establish relationships, and manage proper inventory levels. Schematic and plan-o-gram design may be included in these courses, which introduces students to arranging products in sets that best appeal to the retailer's demographic and stimulate impulse sales.
The different types of retail management courses can vary by school. Some creative or artistic schools offer programs in fashion and retail management. This type of degree program may suit those who want to be involved in the higher end or specialty fashion retail segment. Quite a few of the courses expose students to design concepts, such as color theory, visual merchandising and textiles.
Most retail management courses take an administrative or managerial approach. They assume that the student is interested in a future leadership role of some sort. Even more creative retail management degree programs teach students about classic business concepts, such as sales, marketing, product development and accounting.
Several degree levels are available. Choosing the best track again depends on the individual's aspirations. A bachelor's degree may be required for corporate positions, such as merchandise planner, buyer or retail analyst. Store level leadership positions may just require an associate's degree or several years of experience.
More competitive and specialized retailers may prefer master's degrees that specialize in business administration, along with merchandise management courses. Certification and continuing education programs are available for individuals who already possess a bachelor's or master's degree and want to gain specialized education in retail management. Many of these degree and certification programs can be taken online, either through a traditional university, an online school or retail management trade school.