Before I tell you what are, in my opinion, the 25 best books for retailers, I think you should know a little about me. This way, you can know if these books are also a good fit for you.
I am a retail owner and consultant. What I know about retail is what I learned by doing, and also by what I learned from others.
And by others I mean, in first place, other retailers and businesses across various industries. And secondly, by what I learned reading books in retail and general management.
In my life I have read hundreds of business books.
Some of them, didn’t bring any new knowledge. But many others, made me think of new ideas.
I am a person of action, so I try every new ideas that seem to have potential.
In this list I will only refer books for retailers who brought me some practical results. And that’s a funny thing, because some of theses books are very theoretical.
Books for retailers but not specifically in retailing
1 — The purple cow
The Purple Cow, by Seth Godin – Godin is one of the most important marketeers in the world.
In this book you will understand the importance of being remarkable and not average.
2 — Thinking, fast and slow
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman – This book is about behavioral economics.
It’s not an easy book to read. Take your time. You’ll learn that many called “laws” of economics are wrong, and you can use this knowledge in your advantage.
Consumers are usually not rational.
3 — The Paradox of choice, why more is less
The Paradox of Choice, why more is less, by Barry Schwartz – Also a book about behavioral economics.
This book had a huge impact in my business and in my customers’ businesses.
Main idea for retail: there’s always a number of choices that from beyond that number, people will buy less.
4 — Influence: the psychology of persuasion
Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini – This book is about psychology.
There are a lot of practical advises for using influence, to make your customers do what you want.
5 — Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
In this digital world that we live, it’s very important to understand why some ideas become viral.
Those ideas could be one of your products or you brand.
6 — The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
This is a classic in marketing. There are some “laws” in marketing that seem to apply forever.
7 — The E-Myth Revisited
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber.
This is probably the more important book for small business owners.
Main idea: Make your business work for you. Not the way around.
8 — My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising
My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins.
This is a very old book, but the lessons are invaluable.
This will help you not to make some mistakes we all make (I made myself some) when advertising.
9 — Breakthrough Advertising
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz and Martin Edelston.
Another classic in advertising.
10 — Confessions of an Advertising Man
Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy.
An autobiography by one of the most important copywriters of all times.
11 — Blue Ocean Strategy
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.
This is a book about marketing strategy, on how to find a profitable market where there is no competitors (everyone’s dream).
12 — How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger.
This is one of my favorite books.
It’s about sales. Even though it’s not about retail sales, the lessons are precious.
What I like about this book is how the author puts the customer in first place.
You should read the book.
13 — The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson.
This book teaches us some differences between selling offline and online.
A good book if you sell online.
14 — The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy (and Why They Don’t)
The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy (and Why They Don’t) by Sean D’Souza.
Sean is a master in storytelling.
After starting to read, you won’t stop until the end. An there are a lot of interesting ideas.
15 — Eat That Frog!
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy.
We don’t need only technical books. Sometimes we need to get motivated.
Brian Tracy is a master of motivation.
Books for retailers, about retailers or written by retailers.
16 — Sam Walton: Made In America
Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton.
The founder of Walmark wrote a marvelous autobiography.
There are a lot of important lessons, but let me give you three:
- hard work is necessary for success;
- there’s a lot of money to be made in small towns;
- learn everything you can from other retailers (even in different industries).
17 — Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s
Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s by Ray Kroc. Another autobiography.
This is a book every store owner will feel empathy.
- overnight success is a myth and sometimes success comes later in life;
- expand your business or someone else will do it;
- keep it simple and use systems.
18 — Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing
Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing by A. Alfred Taubman.
The autobiography of the creator of the most important malls in America.
19 — A Retail Investigator: Lessons learned in 24 years of retail security
A Retail Investigator: Lessons learned in 24 years of retail security by Mark Hudson
This is an interesting book about a not so common topic: security and theft (customers or employees). It’s interesting and I learned some secrets.
He knows what he talks about.
20 — Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping
Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill.
The first book for retailers about retailing that I read. It will open your eyes to: the importance of testing and measuring everything; the importance of wandering around the shop, just listening to what customers say and do.
21 — The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business
The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business by Bob Phibbs.
If you read this book as customer service and retail sales book, than it’s a good book. Other topics than sales, are not so good. After all, the author is an expert in retail sales training.
22 — Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz.
An autobiography of the man who made Starbucks.
23 — Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh.
These last three books are about online retailing.
Zappos is one of the most important success case studies on e-retailing.
He proves it’s possible to make a remarkable online store, without having the lowest prices.
24 — The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone.
The story of Amazon and Jeff Bezos.
A must read for anyone who has an online store.
25 — #GIRLBOSS
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.
This last book is more than a book for retailers, it’s a book about fashion retail.
It’s the autobiography of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal.
It’s interesting because she represents a new type of retailers. Nowadays, the majority of entrepreneurs in retail are young women.
This is it. The 25 best books for retailers.
If you need handbooks or courses about retailing (specifically), check my products
- How to increase sales in retail (there are only 4 ways)
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – A Retail Perspective
- How to create a store business plan
- Why you need a retail consultant to help you (or maybe you don’t)
- How to open a clothing business from home