Careers in retail are readily available and can be really rewarding. They are far from being limited to customer service and shop floor roles too! If you are looking for a career in retail, you will be glad to know there are plenty of choices available to you, from customer-facing roles to jobs in head office, careers in retail cover all bases. Find out what those options are, which skills to master and how to get into a career in retail.
- Why work in retail?
- What careers are available in retail?
- What skills are needed to work in retail?
- What degrees help with a career in retail?
Why work in retail?
If you enjoy being around people and have strong communication and interpersonal skills, a career in retail would be a great fit for you. Here are more reasons to consider a retail career:
Huge variety of opportunity
There are hundreds of roles in the retail sector that you could take up. There are also countless sectors within retail. Love gardening? A retail career in a garden centre could be a good option. Love fashion? A career as a buyer for a multinational fashion corporation might appeal to you. A career in retail has the potential to combine your passion with your day job.
No two days are the same
If you tend to get bored with a daily routine, a career in retail would be a good option for you as no two days will be the same. Working with customers, suppliers and team members continually can assure that your work day will always be changing.
Develop your career
A retail job can be a great starting point for loads of different career journeys. Not only will you be working towards a career in retail management, but a role in retail can also provide knowledge of products and services that you could apply to the corporate sector. As well as this, you will be building key skills that employers look for such as communication, team working skills and commercial awareness.
If you’re not the type of person who enjoys a 9-5 job, a retail career could be perfect for you. Many shops offer flexible working patterns to either start earlier or finish later in the evenings.
What careers are available in retail?
If you are looking for a career in retail, there are endless choices available to you. Whether you get a buzz from meeting new people or have dreams of being a brand’s best buyer, the most popular careers in retail are:
Cashiers have many vital duties in retail. Their main responsibility is to serve customers, process and receive payments, and issue receipts to customers. Cashiers also handle vouchers, customer queries and help to keep the store tidy.
Consultants are similar to cashiers, but sales consultants have specialist knowledge of a subject. For example, a beauty consultant on a make-up counter will give customers demonstrations, share knowledge of the products and make recommendations to the customers. A car sales consultant would offer something very similar, but instead of makeup, the product is a car.
Retail team leaders offer vital support to managers, deliver exceptional customer service and always provide positive experiences to the customers. Most importantly, team leaders coordinate the work of the team to complete tasks, identify opportunities that drive sales and ensure merchandising, service and promotional activities are all in line with the store manager’s instructions. They are also there to deal with any difficult situations that may occur.
Store managers are responsible for the whole shop. Whilst the responsibilities of a store manager will vary between shops, they generally oversee a number of things: Store managers will be given sales targets, they help motivate staff to hit these targets, whilst organising promotional events, and overseeing pricing and stock control.
Sales managers have similar responsibilities to store managers. Sales managers usually look after a team of sales representatives and work to ensure all sales targets are hit. Sales managers usually have great customer service skills and are there to respond to inquiries or complaints.
Human resources manager
Human resource managers are responsible for a few key elements of retail. These are: Hiring and interviewing staff, administering pay, benefits and annual leave and making sure current staff are up to date on training. Human resource managers are also there to deal with any complaints or grievances that are brought up by staff. This role is often based in head office, however some retail businesses have HR managers on site.
Loss prevention specialist
Loss prevention specialists work to minimalise and prevent theft or fraud in retail. Loss prevention specialists regularly audit processes and products and look for incidents that would lose companies money, and advise on how to best avoid this.
Logistics coordinators facilitate the shipping of products from one destination to the other. This can be facilitating the logistics of the company warehouse to the transportation to the shop, or the hauling of customers’ goods to their addresses. Logistics coordinators also monitor the supply chain, make key decisions about stock levels, and communicate with manufacturers, suppliers and retailers.
Visual merchandisers in the retail setting are responsible for promoting brands, products and services. Typically this is done in-store, but visual merchandising roles are changing and online visual merchandisers are becoming popular with e-commerce retailers too. A store-based visual merchandising role would involve producing new window and promotional displays, signs, interiors, floor plans and advertising displays as well as creating all other store graphics.
Pharmacists help people with minor health issues or injuries by providing over-the-counter medication and clinical advice. Pharmacists are specialised retailers, who require specific training. Read our Careers in Medicine post for more information on how to become a pharmacist.
Buyer or merchandiser
Retail buyers are responsible for identifying, selecting and purchasing stock that matches the retailer’s requirements. Buyers must have a keen eye for detail, trends and what types of products are selling well with the retailers’ audience. Similarly, retail merchandisers ensure that the right amount of goods are for sale in a shop and that they are being sold at the right price.
What skills are needed to work in retail?
Some of the retail roles listed above will have individual skills and specialisms needed to succeed. For example, a buyer should be skilled in knowing which trends will be popular in a few months’ time, and a loss prevention specialist will possess problem-solving skills that might not be needed in a cashier’s role. If you are interested in applying for a job in a specific area, we would suggest finding adverts for those roles and looking at the job description and person specification. Here you can identify the skills and experience you already have and where you need to improve in order to meet the essential criteria for the role.
However, here are some skills that would be beneficial to any role in retail:
- Customer service skills
- Cash handling
- Commercial awareness
- Attention to detail
- Time management
What degrees help with a career in retail?
There are many routes into a career in retail, it really depends on which sector you are most interested in. Many people working these roles start as a cashier, and work their way up to being team leaders, department leaders and eventually store managers. For more specialised areas, or to join a company in a more senior position, a degree in any related subject would be beneficial.
Last updated on 18 January 2023Share this article