What It’s Like to Work in the Retail Industry
April 19, 2011
Working in the retail industry involves interacting with people to provide excellent customer service and information about products and services as well as handling and resolving complaints. You are there to greet and serve the customers and you will get immediate feedback. A lot of retail jobs involve problem solving. It helps to have sales and marketing skills to show, promote and sell the products or services. The ability to speak English and use basic math is usually important. You may be selling merchandise, such as furniture, cars, clothing, home and office supplies or appliances, and much more. Barcode scanners are used to compute prices and the total the purchases before you receive and process a cash or credit payment on the cash register or computer.
Sometimes, you may have to describe merchandise and explain its use, operation, and care to customers, and answer questions about the store and its merchandise. You have to know about the current sales and promotions, policies regarding payment and exchanges, and security practices. You may also be asked to recommend, select or find merchandise based on the customer needs. It’s not a ‘laid back’ job. Successful retail workers strive to maintain a good relationship with their supervisors. Managers are often encouraged to push employees to work at their maximum performance, and sometimes will ask employees to double up on work in order to cover for workers who don’t show up. Trying to meet the needs of people and the retail business is a challenge, but when you get it right, it can be satisfying.
How to get ready:
Some previous work-related skill or experience and a high school diploma or GED is usually needed. You will likely need to know how to apply online or in the store at a computerized hiring terminal. You may take a computerized evaluation, or a series of questions, such as whether you think it is okay to steal or accept “free” merchandise, or get angry and yell at people easily. Once hired, you’ll go through training in the store. It may be classroom work, going over information on various forms and computer-based learning.
Several positions include: Sales Associate, Sales Consultant, Sales Clerk, Salesperson, Clerk, Sales Representative, Bridal Consultant and Customer Service Representative. High turnover is common in retail, as many people become frustrated with working conditions or their managers. Salaries are modest, and there are limited benefits.
What can you expect to earn?
Average hourly salary $8.00 – 9.74