Retail sales associates mostly sell mass-manufactured products and make them more accessible to consumers. They sometimes manage inventory and innovate their presentation through marketing materials, trend books and friendly communication. This job requires steel nerves sometimes, as customers will bring up issues that may be unrelated to your job, such as the construction quality of a sweater, and expect the sales associate to fix it for them. If you’re a retail sales associate or want a job as one, we’ve created a detailed page you can use as a reference to build a new and improved resume.Let’s begin by looking at the three conventional resume formats:
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Job Duties of a Retail Sales Associate
Retail sales associates are indispensable. They are the public face that the retail industry presents to its customers. A large part of this job involves being in direct contact with customers for long periods, meaning you have to pay careful attention to each of their questions and their experience. Retail sales associates are also subject to their employers’ policies and principles, so what is appropriate for one store may be totally different from another. Even different types of stores from the same companies may have different expectations. Consider Nike’s flagship Niketown stores versus its clearance stores. The former usually has sales reps coming up to people asking if they need help. Simultaneously, the latter is hands-off, letting customers roam around the store, making their own decisions, and only connecting with employees if they really want to.
Being a retail sales associate involves performing the following duties:
Managing all inventory.
Designing visual merchandising.
Assisting shoppers with their questions, including informing them on possible discounts and expirations in addition to suggesting products according to their preferences.
Explaining product features and benefits such as price and ingredients.
Cross-selling and up-selling products, as required by the business or local, regional, national or international sales strategies.
Staying informed about company policies regarding exchange and refunds.
Documenting all customer purchases through their profiles using cloud computing.
Maintaining customer email and text preferences for instant promotions.
Knowing about and training others in all safety and emergency protocols.
Knowing how to search online for the latest competitor sales.
Retail Sales Associate Median Annual Salary
Retail sales associates generally receive payment on an hourly basis or might get commissions or a combination of the two. Retail personnel selling large merchandise, such as electronics or automobiles, are more commonly paid commissions.
In May 2019, the mean annual salary for retail salespersons was $29,360, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Top Skills for Retail Sales Associates
Since retail sales is a highly interactive job, employers seek candidates with excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
We have curated a list of the top skills required for this job:
- Financial management ability, including quick arithmetic: Retail sales associates handle cash and transactions all day, so it is paramount to have good knowledge of arithmetic to make decisions quickly. For example, suppose a customer wants to buy a motorcycle on the spot but wants a discount. In that case, you need to quickly determine how much of it you can provide based on your overall sales figures, inventory stock, overall monthly profits, and more. To improve your financial understanding, you can participate in training programs like the one offered by the brain-fit company CogniFit. Apart from increasing your arithmetic proficiency, it will enhance your memory power, attentive ability, and reasoning skills.
- Product awareness: To provide impeccable assistance, retail sales associates need to be well-versed in the main features of all products sold in their stores. They should know details like price, features, expiration date, and usage method of the product, as these are some common questions that customers often raise. For example, if you work at Uniqlo, you should know all men’s jeans and pants come with the same leg length of 34 inches and that customers can get free or relatively cheap alteration tailoring if they go into the store. Thus, it is imperative to become a product expert and provide practical solutions to buyers’ problems.
- Cross- and up-selling: Being a retail sales associate involves marketing efforts such as cross-selling and up-selling to boost revenue and introduce new and upcoming products to consumers. It is essential you thoroughly understand your customers’ exact needs and sales-centric customer relationship management tools (CRMs) like Sales Xceleration. On-premise and on-demand CRMs will also help you understand parts of the business you need to upsell, like customer cataloging, sales funnel management, and email automation. With these tools, you will better know specific user requirements and obtain higher customer retention rates.
- Computer literacy: Technical skills are not just a requirement of sales associates working with technological equipment. Instead, being tech-savvy is essential for all retail sales associates due to regular interactions with POS (Point of Sale) systems and to boost customer satisfaction. Square, Toast, ShopKeep, SalesVu and Shopify are all standard POS systems.
- Exceptional interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills are indispensable to retail as it is a people-first industry. According to market industry analyst firm Forrester, more than 60% of customers will leave a retail store after a single bad experience. Therefore, good interpersonal skills enable retail sales associates to deal with obstacles without jeopardizing their professional relationships.
- Adaptivity: The retail industry is an ever-changing one, and to thrive in the long run, retail sales associates need to keep abreast with fluctuations in the market and adapt to changing technology, such as augmented shopping and cashier-less stores. They also need to handle the dynamic nature of their jobs with ease.
Educational Requirements for Retail Sales Associates
A degreeThe primary educational requirement to obtain a retail sales associate job is a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development). There is no post-secondary educational qualification mandatory for this role. Instead, this field takes in a lot of entry-level employees. The job involves customer service and product knowledge, taught by on-the-job training.However, a college degree is a welcome addition to your resume and is a beneficial choice if you wish to advance to executive positions later. Plus, it gives you an upper hand over those with a high school diploma, leading to higher wages and better opportunities.You can go for a B.S. in retail management in the U.S. from Oregon State University, University of Arizona, American State University, and Lamar University, among many others.
CertificationThe role of a retail sales associate will seem achievable if you earn a certification as offered by the following universities or colleges, member associations, for-profit companies, and related industry groups. Each of them also offers certifications in specific aspects of the retail industry. For example, if you are a retail sales associate in jewelry, there are Certified Diamontologist options available to you. If you only work in food, there is a Certified ServSafe Food Handler option.
- Universities and colleges: If you want to get into the retail sales associate career path successfully, you need to have a solid base in retailing, merchandising and management. The best way to accomplish this is by graduating with a degree from relevant programs. The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Retail Merchandising is one such program offered by Casper College. This on-campus program has a duration of two academic years, requiring you to complete 15-17 credit hours every semester. Through this, you will come across every aspect of retail marketing and get equipped with critical marketing and communication skills. The program will also give valuable insight into the best way to present merchandise to customers, analyzing market trends, and responding to customers’ needs.The institution also offers a Retail Management certification that will give a head-start to your retail associate career. Endorsed by the Western Association of Food Chains, the program is nine months long and will offer you a robust understanding of the retail industry.
- Industry-related certifications: The Inbound Sales Certification by HubSpot can demonstrate your sales acumen and heighten your suitability for the position. In this program, you will learn the skills necessary to build connections with customers and receive a high satisfaction rate. There are other certifications available from companies like Oracle.
- Member associations: To cultivate and improve customer service skills, the National Retail Federation Foundation provides an online Customer Service and Sales certification. It educates aspirants about the foundational skills required in retail sales and other operations, such as inventory management and merchandising. The minimum requirement is a 10th-grade education or being at least 15 years of age.If you’re working in food retail, the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) offers a Retail Management Certificate, which you can get through community colleges or online. Subjects you can learn include business communications, management skills and marketing.
- For-profit educational companies: Organizations like edX and Coursera provide complete online courses related to the retail industry that will enhance your chances of grabbing the retail sales associate position. The Retail Fundamentals course at edX is best for beginners and lasts four weeks. You will get to learn a plethora of things, including demand forecasting, pricing decisions, assortment planning, and inventory management. The Retail Management course at Coursera will equip you with crucial leadership and customer service skills and give you insights into stock operations, marketing and financial resources.
Retail Sales Associate Resume-Writing Tips
Based on the resume format you choose, there are many ways in which you can approach writing your resume. But you do need to design your resume according to the requirements of the job. Always remember to tweak your resume before applying to other companies/organizations.
Here are three pro tips to help you write an interview-landing retail resume:
- Emphasize relevant soft skills: Retail sales associates work predominantly with people. To prove that you have the chops to handle social situations well, highlight your soft skills and character traits, such as “problem resolution,” “customer assistance” and “teamwork.”But don’t go adding all your virtues to your resume just yet. First, learn about the company’s policies and values and find if you have any in common. Once you add the ones that match your resume, the job you are applying to will make you seem like the perfect fit.
- Provide specific numbers: You can tell employers about your past responsibilities and achievements, but nothing catches the eye like a number. Quantifying your achievements in the percentage of sales completed or amount of money made (or saved) amounts to impersonally describing your accomplishments in an objective manner that can’t be denied. It also makes employers visualize your work for their organization. For example, increased sales by 30% after arranging merchandise to highlight products’ features is, if true, a great way to show that you’ve accomplished the primary sales goals of previous companies. Remember, a great way to show an employer you can do a job is by showing them you’ve done it before.
- Describe past leadership roles: Adding leadership examples to your resume helps define your job candidacy. You can do so by writing, “Trained new employees weekly in cashiering duties and handling customer issues, leading to high customer satisfaction ratings.”This can be a far better alternative than stating leadership as one of your skills in your resume. Including past leadership positions in your resume also benefits you if you do not have work experience in the field.
- Use industry-specific terms: But don’t go overboard. The key here is to include words that catch employers’ eyes while being intelligible. Using the right terminology gives you a professional appearance and creates the perception of experience. Using terms like “cross-merchandising experience,” “inventory management expert,” and “POS systems manager” boosts credibility and increases your chances of getting hired.
Is retail work an excellent first job?
Working in retail is very common. It provides new, usually young employees the opportunity to gain transferable skills. Even if you do not pursue a lifelong career in retail, the job is still beneficial. According to an NRF (National Retail Federation) study, 71% of hiring managers from various sectors believe that an employee can acquire fundamental skills required for other jobs from retail positions.
Does a job as a retail sales associate provide growth opportunities?
There are ample growth opportunities. According to a GfK analysis study, most retail workers earn a promotion within a year of employment. And, 60% of retail employees, in that time frame, are also promoted, while more than 80% receive a raise.
There are also, of course, several instances of entry-level retail employees rising to executive positions.
What is the work environment like in retail sales?
The job of a retail sales associate is dynamic and can be culturally and socially educational. It instills valuable and transferable skills, like learning how to listen to customers. At least 60% of people in the United States have had a retail job in the initial phase of their career. Retail sales associates are expected to handle physical exertion well and handle chaotic situations with class and calm. The seasonal nature of retail sales jobs and the significant presence of part-time employees make it possible to pursue education simultaneously. Employee satisfaction also tends to be at a high-level, making it a rewarding and enriching career choice.