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
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
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
MSA’s learning resources are based on Knowledge Standards:
- Conference Learning Sessions
- Video Learning Sessions
- Museum Store Magazine
- White Papers
- MSA Publications