The retail industry is comprised of a wide variety of companies and products, and a retail sales associate is on the front line of the business. This position is responsible for selling or renting the products and services of the company. People in this position typically have many duties throughout the workday, including greeting customers, assisting customers with product or service selection, maintaining merchandise, utilizing sales techniques and sometimes handling financial transactions.
Customer service is a major responsibility for a retail sales associate. A retail salesperson usually is in charge of the entire customer experience in the store. This begins with a friendly greeting and assessment of the customer’s needs. If the potential client is looking for a particular product or service, the sales associate helps to identify the specific item and usually offers guidance and advice in product choice. The main agenda is letting the customer know that the retail clerk is there to support him.
Retail sales associates sometimes help stock and refill product displays as well. They are responsible for ensuring that sales displays are well stocked and clean, as well as placing new products on display. In certain arenas, such as clothing stores, the sales associate usually folds and refolds items in display areas.
Another main feature of this position is applying sales techniques to sell the product or service. This might include answering questions about the items, performing product demonstrations and fitting or sizing potential customers. Retail sales associates must learn about current sales and product promotions and be able to effectively communicate their benefits to customers.
Many retail sales associates also are responsible for financial transactions, such as purchases, returns and refunds. This requires training and knowledge of basic math, how to operate a cash register and how to process checks and credit card transactions. The associates often are in charge of the contents of the cash register and must count money and calculate sales totals as well as organize receipts, coupons and vouchers.
The qualities needed to be a retails sales associate typically include a well-groomed appearance, a courteous manner and a helpful disposition. This position requires some organizational skills, the ability to work under pressure and the ability to work with many different types of people. Advancement opportunities from this position might include management positions or corporate sales positions, depending on the size and type of the parent corporation.