Committed and driven, Harvey Norman's Cara Sherman is one inspiring woman Photo Tim Swinson / Style Magazine

How to stay ahead in retail.

Cara Sherman began her career with Harvey Norman in a casual sales position, but after completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree, she climbed the corporate ladder. “I acquired my first Harvey Norman franchise in Sydney’s Liverpool 11 years ago at age 23, and I am now the operator of my fifth franchise in Toowoomba and one of the largest electrical superstores in Queensland,” she told Appliance Retailer.

When asked about the biggest challenge in retail: Change in consumer behaviour and interaction.

“Retailers have needed to diversify their messaging and become omni-channel in a shorter time frame than anyone would have expected. Therefore, there is a larger requirement for staff education and training in the forefront of product innovation,” she said.

As for trends in the market: Multi-purpose functionality, colour and style.

“In the laundry category, bigger capacity to reduce wash loads; in refrigeration, better cooling technology to keep food fresher for longer; and in cooking, the introduction of steam and steam assist ovens, as well as further development of induction with maxi sense or flex induction,” she explained.

And Sherman is determined to stay ahead of the game. “I am always aiming to be innovative, to adapt and to evolve; a mentality I learned from Gerry Harvey and Katie Page, which flows throughout the company. The electrical industry is competitive so I am always thinking of ways to enhance the business, motivate my team and get the best out of them, in order to provide the best level of customer service.”

The key to a good relationship with suppliers is respect. “Treat them the same way you would like them to treat you. If you do the right thing by them, they want to work with you and help grow your business.”