Top 10 skills all retail employees have

There are approximately 3 million people working within the retail sector in the UK. As an industry, retail offers a broad spectrum of careers, from customer facing roles to strategic head office positions. However, despite the abundance of retail jobs, competition is still strife within the industry. In order to get those sought after promotions, you have to display competency and enthusiasm.  


Now, you may be wondering, “How on earth do I stand out from the crowd in a retail interview?” or “What retail skills do I have, and how do I demonstrate them?”. Thankfully, we have compiled a list of 10 essential skills needed to thrive within the retail industry. If you’re already 1 of the UK’s 3 million retail workers, we’re certain that you’ll discover a skill that you never even knew you had!

1. Patience:
A customer can test a retail workers patience in many ways. For example, a customer may demand a refund without proof of purchase, refusing to leave the store until reimbursed. In order to deal with the situation, patience is key, as it may take time for them to realise that as an employee, all a retail worker can do is follow company guidelines.

2. Resilience: 
Some people can be extremely belittling towards retail staff (you know who you are!). If a customer is in a rush, a staff member’s feelings will be the last of their concerns. In these situations, retail workers must remain thick-skinned and professional, despite how difficult it may be. Remaining calm when dealing with difficult customers is a great skill, and one that managers look for when seeking to promote.

3. Computer Literacy:
Technology is advancing every day, and it is critical for retail workers to stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends, such as social media, wireless devices, and contactless payment. Not only do employees on the shop floor have to be competent using the till’s computer interface, retail workers have to adapt to changing digital trends within the retail sector. Online retail stores, for example, are becoming increasingly popular. Therefore, employees must understand how to navigate their company website, and how to assist customers with their online orders.

4. Numeracy:
Math skills are essential in retail, in fact, many retail job postings mention numeracy skills as a basic requirement. At the least, retail workers learn how to count money and calculate change whilst on the job. Depending on the type of store, workers might also learn how to determine cost by measuring unit weight, and how to apply percentage discounts. Individuals working in head office positions, will also have an understanding of how to forecast income and expenses based on store performance. 

5. Business Awareness: 
Retail workers need to understand the company that they work for, the products that they sell, and the companies target market. Without this knowledge, key targets will not be met. For instance, if a customer asks for product advice, a retail worker must be able to find the right product and discuss how it meets the customer’s needs. By doing this, they may be able to secure a sale.

6. Self-motivation:
This may seem trivial, but in order to hit individual KPI’s, retail workers have to be self-motivated. This is especially important when working for small independent retailers, as employees are likely to work shifts independently, without encouragement or supervision.

7. Organisation:
Even people new to retail can be thrown in at the deep-end and be given multiple responsibilities. Therefore, retail workers learn very quickly how to manage their time. Tasks such as stock taking, cleaning, and working on the checkout, must all be scheduled into the working day.

8. Customer service:
We all know the age-old saying, “The customer is always right”, and whilst it technically might not always be the case, it’s vital that customer’s leave the store 100% satisfied. Great customer service involves many interpersonal skills, such as empathy, negotiation, listening, and creative thinking.

9. Flexibility:
Not only do the majority of retail staff work weekends, they are also required to work over the holidays. The Boxing Day sales, for example, are critical in the retail calendar. Therefore, retail staff have to be flexible with their plans in order to work within the industry. Of course, there are benefits to working these tough shifts. Companies usually offer incentives like increased pay and cash bonuses.

10. An eye for detail:
Store layout and appearance greatly effects the buying habits of customers. If retail workers can maintain attractive ‘point of sale’ displays, they can increase store income and hit business targets. Visual Merchandisers are employed to create these displays, and Store Assistants are vital in their upkeep. An eye for detail therefore ensures that the store is appealing to customers.

Have you spotted some skills that you’ve missed off your CV? Make sure to update your CV regularly in order to be ready for those promotion opportunities! You may even be able to think of times that you’ve used these skills to mention at your next interview!


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