The retail industry is at the top list of largest sectors for jobs in the US. Retail is a diverse sector that is centered around selling goods to the public. It offers a range of career opportunities for people who enjoy selling products, serving customers and developing business skills. To excel in retail, you need to know what a retail job entails and the abilities and skills you need to do well.
What is a Retail Job?
First, what does “retail” mean? – the term refers to a business model in which products are sold to customers from a single point, such as a local mall or a department store location.
A retail job is a position that primarily involves selling products directly to customers. Retail jobs are widespread and may involve working in small or large businesses, including local convenience stores, supermarkets, major department stores or specialist retailers. Positions range from cashier roles, where customers accept money in exchange for goods, to more supervisory and managerial roles.
Things to Expect in a Retail Sales Job
Retail roles are multifaceted and have a whole lot to offer when you find the right one. Let's take a look at nine things that you should expect in a retail job before you start.
- Performance is key - Performance is everything. When you're working in retail, one of your core tasks may be upselling. That may mean helping customers to find extras to add to their basket or offering them a store card. Much like any other sales role, yours will likely come with a set of targets. To make sure that you excel in this position, you're going to need to be driven and hard-working.
- Customer satisfaction - The customer is always right, or so the old saying goes. When you work in retail, this will become your mantra. Every time you meet and greet a new customer, you will have to make them your top priority. That means listening to their needs and doing everything you can to serve them.
- Get to know the shop - Do you know where the new season skirts are? How about comfortable work shoes? When you're working in retail, you need to know the shop floor like the back of your hand. If you land a job in a shop, take the time to really get to know your surroundings. That means learning where different products are, so that you can point customers in the right direction.
- Goodbye weekends - Love weekends off? Working in retail may not be for you. The fact is that this is shift work weekends are the busiest times. When Saturdays and Sundays come around, it's all hands-on deck. You may also find that it's tricky to get weekends off when you have special occasions - such as weddings or parties - to attend.
- Organizing stock - Whether it's folding clothes or stocking shelves, you'll spend a huge amount of your time organizing stock when you work in retail. Understanding the realities of the job ahead of time could make all the difference when you get through the door.
- Physically demanding (except for virtual sales roles) - As you'll be walking thousands and thousands of steps every single shift. Much of your work will involve walking around the shop or simply standing in one position. The truth of the matter is that retail roles are highly physically demanding. You may also find yourself lifting heavy boxes or moving large pieces of furniture.
- Be a team player - Working as a team should come naturally to you in this role. You will need to work closely with your coworkers to get things done. If you get put on the same shifts with the same people again and again, you may find that you become close to them.
- Brand representative - When you work in retail, you're representing a brand. That means that you need to align with the brand values and get all of the finer details right.
Crucial Skills to Land a Job in Retail Sales
- Communication skills - Retail jobs bring you into contact with large numbers of people. You're expected to interact with a diverse range of customers, fellow sales professionals and supervisory staff. Being able to listen carefully and communicate is advantageous as you can understand and respond to the needs and requirements of people around you.
- Exceptional customer service - Businesses rely on the customer service of their staff to thrive. This means that you need to be personable, accessible and willing to assist your customers throughout your workday. You want to create the best experience possible to your clients to make sure they return.
- Team work - Knowing how to work with different people is essential for retail. Retail professionals work as part of a team with members fulfilling different roles to provide customers with products they need with excellent service. They need to work together to run a store and may be required to work interchangeably.
- Numeric skills - Retail jobs involve repeated mathematical tasks like calculating totals for sales transactions or inventory management. Numeracy skills are essential to fulfill these tasks quickly and competently. Your level of attainment in math may need to be highlighted on your resume so that employers can see that you can carry out these responsibilities.
- Basic IT skills - To competently operate the Point of Sale (POS) systems used in modern retail requires basic computing skills. As retail professionals become more senior, they need to operate more complex sales and inventory software.
Basically, searching for retail sales roles does not differ much from searching other roles. Your only main focus is to target the right industry while doing your job hunt. Some employers prefer candidates with at least a high school diploma or equivalent, particularly for those selling more expensive items. Most companies offer on-the-job training for new associates. While a college degree isn’t usually required, having one could help you advance to a supervisory position, such as a store manager.
Keep in mind these retail sales common interview questions:
- Why are you interested in working at this store?
- What do you think is required to be successful in sales?
- How would you respond to a rude or angry customer?
- What does outstanding customer service look like to you?
- Tell me about a time when you’ve worked as part of a team?
- What are your plans in achieving your target?
For additional information on how to crush your next interview, read this blog post!