The Types of Tasks You May Do Working in Retail

By Danni White on August 10, 2017

via Pixabay

You probably already know what a retail associate does in his or her line of work. These types of people are almost everywhere you go shopping. At Wal-Mart, at Target, at Best Buy, at the mall, retail associates are often eager to tell you about the store’s sales or new products, assist in finding items that are more difficult to find, answering questions of regular shoppers and the occasional curious visitors, and ringing up purchases at the register.

Like cashiers at grocery stores or convenience stores, people who work in retail help to manage the cash registers and keep track of the money that goes in and goes out. Sometimes, we encounter retail associates throughout the day without even realizing that we’re talking to someone in retail.

A good retail associate is extremely knowledgeable about the product or service that is being sold. They also have to have a good deal of patience when dealing with all customers, especially the difficult ones that are bound to come through on any given day. Additionally, a person working in retail must be genuinely friendly, have a cheerful attitude, is a naturally happy person, and have a willingness to go above and beyond for the customer without a lot of prodding to do so.

Long hours, busy days, and nights and weekend work are often a normal course of operation in many places of retail. The busiest time for retail stores is often in the fall/winter months and of course on holidays and special occasions throughout the year. For example, 4th of July may be a busy day/weekend, Memorial Day may be the same way, and graduation/back to school season may be busy as well.

In short, if you’re not the type of person who is cheerful, helpful, and energetic, retail is probably not the right job for you.

If you are this type of person and can see a future in the world of retail, you may be asking what are some of the job positions you can hold?

Good question. There are a couple job titles that you can hold and gradually grow into others as time goes on.

Most new hires will begin as stockers, cashiers, baggers, or sales associates. These are very important jobs as those in such roles also serve as the face of the company in many regards. Companies have been given a bad rap by customers simply because a cashier was rude or unhelpful. On the other hand, some customers love going to certain places not just because of what they can get but because of the people who provide the service.

Then there are middle positions which include team leaders, floor directors, or staff supervisors. Some retail stores even have a lead cashier or someone who unofficially acts as the go-to person, the problem solver, or the one who has earned the respect of his or her peers. In such a role, you will ensure law and order are kept. For example, you’ll make sure other employees sign in and sign out on time, take appropriate breaks, and work well with each other.

Then there are managerial roles. A department manager, store manager, branch manager, assistant manager, or chain manager is often responsible for multiple teams and sometimes, multiple locations. People in this position are responsible for onboarding new staff, training current and new staff, establishing goals, making decisions, and ensuring consistent service is given across all stores or chains.

A fair amount of skill is needed to work in retail. However, if you have the personality, most places will offer training for what is specific to that store. There are many people who rise through the ranks of retail without an education. This is not permission for you to drop school altogether; school is still important, but you can learn specific aspects of the business. Those with a bachelor’s degree, or even an associate’s degree, have a better chance of getting managerial roles quicker.

Abundant opportunities exist in the world of retail. We are always going to need that extra hand to guide or that person to smile at the door or at the register when we come through after a long day at work or school. Finding a position in retail is a great option for a first job in high school and college. It is also a good choice for those who are interested in selling specific products (e.g., selling electronics at Best Buy or selling clothes at Macy’s).

Retail can also be internally rewarding. It presents the opportunity to help people with some aspect of their day. Kindness and helpfulness indeed go a long way in this business. And you’ll enjoy the environment you’re working in much better if you find some real meaning in it, and not just putting in the hours to get a paycheck.

Danni White is a developmental psychology graduate student at Liberty University. She works in the digital publishing, media, and technology industries. After this degree, she will go on to work on a PhD in social psychology in which she hopes to do research on perception and social cognition’s impact on human behavior. She hopes to apply this research in corporate HR departments and community-based organizations. In her otherwise limited spare time, she blogs, writes and reads. She loves coffee, sports, music, cooking, meeting new people, and binge watching Netflix.

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