April 2024

Directing value in Direct Store Delivery: Store Manager

by Nick Capuano & Jordan Mullins

Back to insights

Directing value in Direct Store Delivery: Store Manager

April 2024 by Nick Capuano & Jordan Mullins

Back to insights


There are many players in the complex system of Direct Store Delivery (DSD), where suppliers and retailers must partner to achieve mutual success. In this article, we look at the frontline leader and main point of contact for retailers—the Store Manager.

Store Managers serve as pivotal figures, shaping the success and value derived from this symbiotic partnership between suppliers and retailers. Their actions and engagement with DSD vendors significantly influence the store's performance and the overarching success of the supplier-retailer collaboration. Let's explore the distinct behaviors of good, better and best Store Managers, shedding light on their varying impacts in the context of DSD.

This knowledge and implementation of advisement are a core part of The Gap Partnership’s consulting services.

The role of the Store Manager: Cultivating value in retail

Store Managers are more than just the on-site person in charge. Their engagement with DSD vendors significantly impacts the store's performance and the collective success of both the supplier and retailer.

The good Store Manager: The foundation of communication

A good Store Manager recognizes the importance of leveraging DSD vendors and communication. This interaction is crucial to ensure flawless execution and synchronization with the company's expectations. Their behavior includes:

  • Basic operations management: Ensures the store operates smoothly, meeting daily tasks like inventory management, staffing and compliance.
  • Effective communication: Maintain open lines of communication with their team and DSD partners to convey the company’s goals and expectations.
  • Adherence to protocols: Enforce company protocols, including the execution of planograms and promotions as per the supplier's or retailer's guidelines.

While these efforts are essential, the good Store Manager's actions primarily focus on maintaining store operations and are more foundational than strategic.

The better Store Manager: Infusing strategy and adaptability

A better Store Manager elevates their role by implementing strategic adaptations and maximizing value. Their behavior encompasses:

  • Proactive partnership: Actively engage in conversations with DSD partners to understand upcoming initiatives and collaborate on impactful strategies.
  • Space optimization: Strategize the allocation of shelf space and displays, maximizing profitability and customer engagement.
  • Innovative problem-solving: Adapt to unforeseen challenges, collaborating with DSD partners to find creative solutions and maintain smooth operations.

This shift involves more strategic thinking and a proactive approach to align with both the retailer’s and supplier’s objectives.

The best Store Manager: Strategic alliances and business growth

At the apex is the best Store Manager, often underestimated in their influence on value creation. Their behavior comprises:

  • Strategic collaborations: Lead in-depth discussions with DSD partners, seeking synergies in Joint Business Planning (JBP) to create innovative strategies.
  • Innovative display curation: Curate displays that blend high-turnover items and innovative products, creating high-value sales and increased profitability.
  • Team empowerment: Empower their team by delegating tasks to DSD partners, aligning priorities and fostering a shared responsibility for success.

The best Store Manager: Strategic alliances and business growth, continued

  • Resourceful problem-solving: Handle challenges with cross-functional collaboration, leveraging collective expertise to find innovative solutions.
  • Visionary leadership: Inspire a culture of collaboration, accountability and continuous improvement among their team and DSD partners.

These actions are transformative, strategic, and foster a culture that resonates throughout the store and the broader retail ecosystem.

Inside their head: Ray’s reallocation of resources

During the bustling holiday season, Ray, a Store Manager, faced a considerable challenge due to a sudden labor shortage amid a plethora of displays needed for the store's seasonal sales drive. Recognizing this as an opportunity rather than a setback, Ray took a proactive approach. He arranged meetings with the Direct Store Delivery (DSD) partners over two days, emphasizing the labor shortage and the urgency to alleviate the strain on his staff.

By initiating open discussions, Ray allowed the DSD partners to propose their holiday initiatives. Leveraging these insights, Ray strategically allocated display space, reducing the burden of building and maintaining the 22 displays to a more manageable seven for his team. The remaining 15 displays were delegated to the DSD partners, aligning priorities and maximizing mutual gains. This ingenious strategy not only mitigated labor costs and staff burnout but also resulted in a substantial 19% boost in profits compared to the previous year, showcasing the exceptional foresight and collaborative leadership of the best Store Manager within the realm of Direct Store Delivery.


In the dynamic landscape of Direct Store Delivery, the Store Manager is a linchpin in driving value that transcends daily operations. While a good Store Manager ensures the store’s daily function, a better Store Manager collaborates with DSD partners to strategize and optimize store potential. However, the best Store Manager stands as a strategic leader, driving innovation and collaborative value throughout the supplier-retailer partnership, ensuring sustained success and profitability in the realm of retail.

About the authors 

Nick Capuano, Senior Consultant, The Gap Partnership

Nick Capuano is a results-driven Senior Consultant at The Gap Partnership, based in Philadelphia, PA. With a career spanning over a decade, Nick has honed his expertise in business development, account management, and strategic leadership across various industries. His exceptional proficiency in delivering and facilitating core development workshops, coupled with his talent for building and maintaining positive collaborative relationships with clients, are fundamental drivers of his success.​

During his tenure as the National Business Development Manager at PepsiCo Foodservice, Nick led national new business initiatives in specialty retail, amusement, and fitness sectors. His exceptional abilities in prospecting potential customers, developing relationships with C-suite executives, and structuring national deals across all lines of business were pivotal to the company's success.

As the National Account Sales Manager at MFO Restaurants, Nick cultivated relationships with national customers, including renowned concepts such as Papa John’s, Little Caesar’s, Jersey Mike’s, Dairy Queen, and Capriotti’s. ​

His proficiency in understanding and managing customer organizations, utilizing personal influence and knowledge to achieve goals in a matrix environment, greatly contributed to the company's growth.

With a proven track record of success in strategic business development, relationship management, and leadership, Nick Capuano is a dedicated professional committed to driving excellence and achieving impactful results in every endeavor.

Jordan Mullins, Senior Consultant, The Gap Partnership

Jordan has spent the last 10+ years working and growing within the CPG industry, spending time with multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Coca Cola, Kraft Heinz, and Colgate Palmolive. During this time, he realized his passion not only for negotiation, but his desire to help his co-workers become the best versions of themselves, which led him to the Gap Partnership. ​

During his time prior to joining The Gap Partnership, Jordan was tasked with improving the processes for multiple national sales programs and being able to successfully train and deliver significant financial results across the organization simultaneously. Jordan has achieved a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration as well as a Master's in Business Administration from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.​

Jordan is currently a Senior Consultant and is responsible for delivering our portfolio of workshops brilliantly across all sectors such as CPG, Retail, Oil and Gas, Automotive, and Pharma. ​

Jordan finds passion for helping all of the participants find who they need to be during these workshops while helping them implement these behaviors and reap the benefits of the program.

About The Gap Partnership

The Gap Partnership is a management consultancy specializing in negotiation. We help organizations drive profitability, increase efficiency and reduce cost.

Negotiation is an integral part of everything a business does. It exerts a critical influence on the profitability and market value of the organization.

At The Gap Partnership, we provide development programs and negotiation training to our clients. We work with you to understand your challenges and performance needs. Our negotiation consultants come from your industry and will support you with a 'complete' solution that embeds learning, measures capability and delivers sustainable change.

We hold ourselves accountable for your success. 70% of our business comes from clients we have worked with for over five years

If you require further information on how we can help you and your teams make the most of every negotiation, or simply need to ask us a question - just call, email or complete the form.

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Nick Capuano & Jordan Mullins