Looking for some retail therapy?
OK, so you love working as part of a team and excel in customer-facing positions – whether it’s talking about the latest trends or pontificating on state-of-the-art products. But what happens when you’re ready for retail, but just don’t know where to start?
To help you choose the career that’s right for you, here are some of the best jobs in the retail industry (and some tips on how to get there):
What they do: Sell the products and/or services of their business, to help meet the company’s sales targets. Sales Assistants are usually customer-facing, and their main role is to ensure shoppers have a pleasant shopping experience – whether it’s by giving advice on products, answering questions, or processing payments. They may also replenish, restock, and tidy sales areas.
What you need: A confident, outgoing, and accommodating attitude with an ability to communicate with all kinds of people. You’ll also need to use your knowledge and initiative to diffuse tough situations with unhappy customers.
What you can earn: This may vary according to industry, experience and hours worked. However, full-time Sales Assistants will usually earn between £12,000 and £16,000 – which is often paid at an hourly rate.
Perfect for: People who love people.
Our advice: Don’t be tempted to take the first role that comes up. Instead, play to your strengths and try and find a store you’re passionate about. Not only will you enjoy working there more in the long run, your enthusiasm will also help you to stand out at the interview.
What they do: Oversee the overall operation of a retail store to maintain the smooth-running of a business, and meet budgetary demands or sales goals. Store Managers are also accountable for all aspects of service – so it’s vital that they motivate and guide colleagues, maintain team morale and set the bar for excellent customer service.
What you need: Aside from excellent management and customer service skills, you’ll also need an ability to delegate tasks and motivate others. Store Managers often start from the bottom in order to learn the skills needed to progress, so previous experience in retail is usually essential.
What you can earn: Salaries will vary depending on location and the size of the store you work for – and your pay will usually reflect the amount of money the store makes on average. Store Managers in smaller stores could earn around £20,000, while those based in larger stores could earn £30,000 or more.
Perfect for: People who like to lead.
Our advice: If you’re struggling to break into a store management role, consider getting experience in similar retail positions. Even if you join a company as a Sales Assistant, there are almost always opportunities to quickly move up – whether it’s to a supervisory or team leader position, or to an assistant/deputy manager role. From there, you’ll gain the essential leadership attributes many employers consider prerequisites. And, as an internal employee who’s knowledgeable about the company, you’ll be more likely to be considered for a Store Manager role if it comes up.
What they do: Design window displays, in-store promotions and product placements to increase a business’ overall aesthetics and sales. Whether they’re arranging the window displays of a big high-street brand, or presenting a range of products in a smaller retailer – a Merchandiser’s role is based around improving and maintaining the effective organisation of the products sold in a retail store.
What you need: You’ll need to be commercially aware, with an eye for detail and a good knowledge of effective visual sales techniques. Excellent creative ability is also essential.
What you can earn: Salaries start at around £15,000, rising to around £24,000 once you’re fully qualified and experienced.
Perfect for: People who like to make things look pretty.
Our advice: If you’re not successful applying directly for visual merchandising positions, don’t be discouraged. Working in other retail roles can be a great way to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t and can help provide some essential experience to help you become a Merchandiser when the right role comes up.
What they do: Use factors such as customer buying habits, price, quality, market trends, to select a range of suitable products to sell in the retailer they work for. Buyers need to be ahead-of-the-game in terms of what’s popular (and what’s not) to keep their business as cutting-edge and relevant as possible.
What you need: Excellent commercial awareness, good business acumen, and the ability to anticipate what people will want before they know themselves. As the role will involve observing and examining buying patterns, an analytical mind is equally essential.
What you can earn: A Junior or Assistant Buyer will make around £14,000. But with a proven track record of success, it’s not uncommon to earn £30,000+ – especially when working for a premium brand.
Perfect for: People with who can predict the future (trends).
Our advice: Keep up-to-date with developments in your industry, whether it’s the latest fashion trends or upcoming developments in technology. You need to know what the next big thing will be before anyone else does (or, at the very least, at the same time as everyone else)
Head Office positions
What they do: Aside from the aforementioned buying and merchandising positions, everything from careers in HR and finance to administration and marketing can be found in the head office of most retailers.
What you need: To be an advocate of the brand, whatever position you’re in. You will also need excellent skills in your specialism, as well as the ability to work as part of a team. Specific requirements will vary from role to role.
What you can earn: Initial salary may range between around £15,000 and £20,000 depending on your position, but this will quickly increase if you’re working for a recognisable name.
Perfect for: People who like to be behind the scenes.
Our advice: Even if you’re looking for something that isn’t traditionally considered a retail role, don’t rule the industry out completely. Working for a retailer in a finance position, for example, may be easier to get into than some other roles in the industry and could allow you to gain qualifications while you work which will take your career to the next level.
Other jobs in retail to consider: Personal Shopper, Area Manager, Team Leader, Supervisor.
Here are some of our top tips for finding a job in the retail industry:
- Be practical – Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. With the right attitude and experience you will quickly work your way up.
- Be passionate – Choose a store or product you actually like – it’ll be far easier to sell the products effectively.
- Be pro-active – Keep up-to-date with developments in your industry.
- Be focused – Where do you want your career to take you? ‘I want to work in retail’ will not give you the direction you need to succeed.
- Be specific – Use specific examples of how you’ve hit previous targets to help quantify your CV.
- Be confident – Excellent interpersonal skills and a positive and enthusiastic nature will be key to finding the right role. Underestimate their importance at your peril…
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