What can MSA Knowledge Standards do for you?

MSA’s goal is to assist members in furthering their career paths. Knowledge Standards represent skills that are at the core of MSA learning programs designed to support your professional development. They are a comprehensive summary of what today’s nonprofit retail professionals need to know. They are more than a list of responsibilities. They help you validate your current position, guide your institution’s understanding of a nonprofit retail enterprise and serve as a road map to your success. The curriculum for MSA’s certificate and the upcoming certification programs is designed around the Knowledge Standards.

Here are the eight Knowledge Standards with a complete list of the critical elements of each skill.

Skill: Merchandise Planning

Merchandise Planning is creating a plan for the purchase, development and display of merchandise.

SKILL 1 Sources and selects appropriate merchandise that supports the institution’s mission.

  • Identifies the institution’s and store’s mission
  • Identifies channels and methods of purchasing
  • Plans the merchandise assortment
  • Understands and develops vendor strategies

SKILL 2 Creates and executes product development strategy.

  • Plans product development strategy
  • Sources new and custom product opportunities
  • Evaluates possible new and custom products
  • Acquires and sells new products in the store
  • Identifies and determines new trends to introduce into the product mix such as Fair Trade, green, new materials, color, etc.
  • Participates in seminars, webcasts, lectures, industry-related associations and networking opportunities with colleagues

SKILL 3 Prices merchandise to maximize gross margin.

  • Understands pricing theory
  • Understands pricing strategies
  • Knows industry standard pricing trends

SKILL 4 Implements a buying plan that maintains appropriate on-hand stock levels.

  • Implements and manages an inventory software package
  • Understands and applies open-to-buy (OTB)
  • Understands inventory shrinkage factors
  • Factors in consignment products when calculating inventory on hand

SKILL 5 Analyzes sales in order to adjust the buying plan.

  • Creates sales projections and monitors sales results annually / monthly / weekly by key categories
  • Understands stock availability factors
  • Adjusts budget projections based on actual data

SKILL 6 Creates and executes a visual merchandising plan.

  • Understands basic visual merchandising design principles
  • Incorporates institutional goals into store design and merchandising
  • Researches fixture companies for various display needs such as lighting, showcases, shelving, props, floor coverings, signage and window treatments
  • Creates a plan to maximize revenues per square foot

SKILL 7 Creates and implements a plan for receiving and storing merchandise.

  • Creates processes for receiving and storage

SKILL 8 Trains and educates staff about merchandise.

  • Conducts regular information sessions regarding new products, product features and their relation to the institution and its collection
  • Trains staff on selling techniques
  • Works with related departments on merchandise education

Skill: Customer Relations

Customer Relations is the management of the interactions between the customer and the nonprofit retail team.

SKILL 1 Identifies and meets the unique needs of all customers.

  • Greets customers and identifies customer objectives or needs
  • Completes the sale and strives to exceed customer expectations

SKILL 2 Seeks customer feedback to improve service levels.

  • Establishes a communications plan to assess customer satisfaction
  • Ensures customer satisfaction

SKILL 3 Models and reinforces positive customer service behavior.

  • Establishes customer service expectations
  • Offers staff educational opportunities to learn customer service techniques
  • Ensures visibility of management in the store

SKILL 4 Enhances the customer’s total experience in the store, the institution and the community.

  • Ensures a quality customer experience in the store
  • Connects the customer shopping experience to the institution
  • Extends the cultural experience beyond the institution

Skill: Operations

Operations includes the ongoing management of the store and its related sales outlets.

SKILL 1 Oversees merchandise receiving, fulfillment and tracking for all outlets.

  • Manages receipt of deliveries
  • Knows fulfillment and storage policies and procedures

SKILL 2 Conducts periodic physical inventory and reconciliation.

  • Plans for physical inventory
  • Establishes processes for reconciliation

SKILL 3 Maintains the physical condition and appearance of the store and the merchandise.

  • Oversees daily cleaning and maintenance
  • Manages larger facilities management issues

SKILL 4 Ensures the security of personnel, inventory, fixtures and equipment.

  • Provides a safe environment for staff
  • Knows loss prevention practices

SKILL 5 Supervises the sales floor.

  • Manages staff sales function
  • Ensures fluid daily sales operation of the store

SKILL 6 Coordinates special events and promotions.

  • Plans special events and promotions
  • Executes special events and promotions

SKILL 7 Operates and maintains retail store equipment, systems and supplies.

  • Manages technology issues
  • Ensures appropriate stock of business supplies

Skill: Financial Management

Financial Management is a comprehensive system of controlling, measuring and maximizing fiscal performance.

Skill 1 Develops and implements a budget for a profitable nonprofit retail enterprise.

  • Assesses big picture impacts on budget planning
  • Understands and evaluates store and institution budget needs and resources

Skill 2 Selects and implements an appropriate retail and financial management system.

  • Evaluates product availability and technology
  • Assesses the retail and financial management needs of the store and the institution
  • Implements or upgrades the retail and financial management system

Skill 3 Maintains inventory control.

  • Knows inventory control principles and techniques
  • Evaluates and determines optimal store inventory levels

Skill 4 Maximizes revenues and margins.

  • Understands impact of revenues and margins on financial goals
  • Applies effective retail pricing policies

Skill 5 Applies IRS Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) guidelines.

  • Understands general objectives and compliance legislation regarding UBIT
  • Tracks and documents unrelated sales

Skill 6 Controls and monitors money handling procedures.

  • Knows and understands institutional and store policies and procedures related to security of money handling
  • Works with the finance department to ensure institutional financial policies are followed

Skill 7 Quantifies and analyzes financial results.

  • Comprehends retail financial concepts, terminology, ratios and formulas
  • Applies financial expertise

Skill: Human Resources

Human Resources involves skillful management of personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.

Skill 1 Effectively recruits and hires personnel.

  • Is knowledgeable in standard hiring practices
  • Executes a recruitment and hiring plan
  • Assesses current needs and structure of the retail department
  • Examines all current data pertaining to department positions
  • Provides compensation recommendations with supporting documentation

Skill 2 Assimilates volunteers into the work force.

  • Creates a volunteer program
  • Facilitates integration of volunteers and paid staff

Skill 3 Implements a well-developed training program for personnel.

  • Develops training modules for specific skills by job level
  • Sets schedule for training and assessing progress level of trainee

Skill 4 Ensures that all personnel comply with institutional and departmental policies and state and federal regulations.

  • Fully understands and communicates regulations as they pertain to departmental staff

Skill 5 Encourages professional development and growth to achieve store goals.

  • Establishes a professional development plan
  • Creates a “team” environment and approach for the operation
  • Develops rewards and incentive programs for staff, both individually and as a team

Skill 6 Applies disciplinary standards according to institutional policy.

  • Ensures staff meets conduct expectations

Skill 7 Conducts timely and productive performance evaluations.

Establishes processes for employee evaluation

Skill: Communication

Communications is the exchange of information for successful outreach to all audiences.

Skill 1 Establishes productive collaborative relationships with other departments in the institution.

  • Works to build synergy between institutional departments
  • Understands institutional communication protocols

Skill 2 Maintains ongoing communications within the nonprofit retail department.

  • Promotes open dialogue within the department

Skill 3 Actively markets the nonprofit retail industry to the community.

  • Creates an external communication plan incorporating institutional goals
  • Implements external communications plan
  • Defines the message that conveys the importance of nonprofit retail

Skill 4 Maintains ongoing communications with nonprofit retail colleagues.

  • Networks with individuals and groups throughout the nonprofit retail community.

Skill: Business Relations

Business Relations is the development of relationships that enable a successful and profitable nonprofit retail enterprise.

Skill 1 Develops and sustains business relationships.

  • Strategically develops relationships

Skill 2 Negotiates agreements benefiting the institution.

  • Strategically approaches new business opportunities
  • Follows institutional guidelines for new business agreements

Skill: Strategic Management

Strategic Management is the development and implementation of strategies that ensure the long-term success of the business.

SKILL 1 Plans, develops and implements a business plan.

  • Creates initiatives to support the strategic business plan
  • Researches and selects appropriate business models that support the institution’s strategic goals

SKILL 2 Monitors socio-economic, political and general business climates.

  • Is aware of external macro- and micro-economic trends and their possible impact on the business

SKILL 3 Advocates on behalf of the nonprofit retail operation.

  • Creates alliances with other institutional departments and the community
  • Knows the institution’s mission statement and how nonprofit retail relates to it
  • Creates the nonprofit retail mission statement
  • Builds and retains customer base

SKILL 4 Ensures staffing and systems align with the needs of the operation.

  • Creates, monitors and periodically updates staffing plans to respond to economic and institutional variables
  • Executes a periodic review of operational systems to meet changing business goals
  • Researches leadership development plans and identifies best practices
  • Identifies potential candidates for leadership development internally and in the hiring process

Knowledge Standards Content

MSA’s learning resources are based on Knowledge Standards:

  • Conference Learning Sessions
  • Video Learning Sessions
  • Webinars
  • Museum Store Magazine
  • White Papers
  • MSA Publications

Certificate Program

MSA certificate curriculum in Financial Management and Merchandise Planning is based on Knowledge Standards. Here’s why you should enroll:

  • Multiple ways to earn credits
  • Exclusive for MSA members
  • Knowledge you can put to work
  • Knowledge you can share with others
  • First step toward certification (coming soon!)

For Members Only

Only you can participate in the certificate program.

  • You receive free and discounted learning programs and resources
  • You have member-only access to online content that supports your learning
  • Use the MSA online community to connect with others pursuing certificates