MSA Knowledge Standards

Knowledge Standards are a comprehensive summary of what today’s nonprofit retail professionals need to know and represent skills that are at the core of MSA learning programs.  As a museum store professional, strengthening your skill levels within these standards will 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.

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

For Members Only

  • 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 the non-profit retail community