Types of Retail Jobs

If you haven’t worked in retail before, you may be surprised at just how many different retail job opportunities are available. Below, we’ve made a list of some of the most common.

In retail, who work for can make a huge difference in what your job is, how you’re treated, and how much you enjoy your work. In larger stores, your specific role and experience can vary from department to department, depending on who your manager is and how the store is structured.

Stock Clerk

Ever wonder who moves the inventory from the back room to the store shelves? In many cases, that job belongs to the stock clerk.

In short, a stock clerk’s job has four major components: keeping the stock room clean and organized, keeping the shelves properly stocked, re-organizing the shelves after customers inevitably make a mess of your work, and helping customers locate the products that they’re looking for.

Depending on the type of retail store you work in, this can be a physically demanding job. For example, a stock clerk in a home improvement store may have to move heavy items like grills and lawnmowers. If you struggle with physical labor, make sure to keep that in mind when considering the places you’d like to work.

Cashier

If you’ve ever bought something at a store (who hasn’t?!), then you have a basic understand of what a cashier does: ring up items, receive money, and make change. However, unless you’ve worked as a cashier, you probably don’t understand exactly what the job really entails.

Standing in the same small square all day can be difficult. Not just physically difficult, but emotionally difficult. It’s human nature to move around while you’re on your feet, and it can be exhausting to fight that urge all day. And while most customers are friendly, there are usually just enough angry ones to make standing in that little square all day that much harder.

Having strong customer service skills is also a core component of the job. After all, where would you rather shop: a store where the cashiers treat you well, or one where they seem indifferent to your presence?

Retail Salesperson

If you’ve ever shopped for clothes in department stores, then you’re most likely familiar with retail salespeople. To put it simply, the job of a retail salesperson is to listen to a customer’s needs, and present them with the products that best suit their needs. Though the ability to communicate well is important for any sales job, the ability to listen well is just as (if not more) important.

In some cases (particularly in more up-scale retail environments), retail salespeople work hard to establish a list of clientele who will come to them repeatedly for their advice. They may send out occasional personal mailings, announce new products, or otherwise stay in touch with the people they’ve helped over time. Developing loyal clientele can take a long time and a lot of work, but is essential for many retail salespeople who work in those upscale types of stores.

Depending on the store, retail salespeople may or may not work on commission. Working on commission can lead to bigger paychecks, but it also usually results in inconsistent income and increased pressure to make sales.

Customer Service

Working in customer service at a retail store can be equal parts rewarding and frustrating.

On one hand, you get to help customers solve their problems, locate items, and handle their exchanges or returns. On the other hand, you will encounter a fair number of people who are just flat out angry, unreasonable, or even trying to rip off the store (trying to return a box without the actual item inside, for example).

Regardless of the circumstances, you will be expected to maintain a professional and reasonable composure. If that’s something you’re able to do, then a job in customer service could be just the right thing for you.

Retail Management

Management roles vary greatly depending on the specific store that you’re working in. Larger retail stores (think Target or Walmart) often have many different managers working at any given time. Some managers manage specific departments, others manage the warehousing or receiving, while others manage the hiring and human resources elements of the store.

Not all retail stores have so many managers, though. For example, smaller stores like Gap or Gamestop often only have one or two managers working at a time. One will likely be the store manager (in charge of the whole store), and the other may be a shift manager (in charge of keeping their shifts running smoothly).

In many retail stores, management jobs are usually only given to employees who have been with the company and established themselves as strong employees, but companies will often consider someone with strong retail experience outside of their company as well.

Product Demonstrator

Ever go to Sam’s Club or Costco on the weekends, and notice the employees handing out the free samples of food? Those employees are product demonstrators, and their job is to demonstrate the value of a product to customers with the goal of moving inventory and making sales.

As you’d expect, this job requires you spend long shifts on your feet, as well as constantly interacting with customers. Good people skills are a major requirement for this job.

Warehouse Worker

Not all retail stores have warehouses, but the big ones (think Walmart or Target) sure do. Warehouse workers are responsible for unloading merchandise from the delivery trucks and organizing it in the store’s warehouse, so any given item can be quickly found and moved out to the store’s shelves.

In some stores, this can be a very physically demanding job. In other stores, most of the heavy lifting will be handled with forklifts and other machinery. Regardless, the job requires a lot of time on your feet, and a very detail-oriented mindset.

Updated: 09/03/2017

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