Posted February 24, 2021

Kickstart Your Retail Career

By Grace Tino

While retail positions are known for being fast-paced, dynamic, and challenging, they also generate valuable job experience that fuels career growth. No matter where you start in retail, you are sure to grow in a successful and rewarding career. Securing your first position in retail opens doors to a multitude of other paths and options in the industry. What makes retail a considerable and exciting industry to start in is the doors it opens. There are a variety of positions to begin a career in, and what is even better is that these areas prepare you for growth in other areas as well.

When it comes to retail, wherever you begin does not have to lock you into one path. The best way to look at your beginning is this: A retail job is a steppingstone in the entire scope of your retail career. Experimenting with various retail positions initially will help you accumulate the skills needed in higher level positions. How can different areas of retail help kickstart your career?

Customer service is a fantastic area to start a retail career in, since the skills it develops are transferrable to essentially all other areas of retail. Those in customer service perform a wide variety of tasks, including but not limited to assisting customers with their questions, completing returns, finding products, and directing customers around the store. However, customer service positions are not just in-store. You can find customer service positions both with online e-commerce platforms, as well as through company telephone help lines. With quite a few different ways to work in customer service, it is no surprise that it is one of the most common retail jobs for beginners. Those who work in customer service will take away a variety of extremely valuable skills for any position in the industry. Some of these skills include problem solving, time management, product knowledge, customer satisfaction, and patience; these are essential skills at any point in a retail career.

Another retail position that may cross your mind is sales. Sales is a common position for beginners in the industry because it allows a development of deep knowledge about the products and the customer. Many skills learned in a sales job are like those learned in a customer service position, which makes them an excellent transition for cross-training. Some of the skills both jobs require include problem solving, customer satisfaction, and product knowledge. However, sales positions also develop a goal-oriented mindset, positive attitude, competitiveness, and drive desirable for any other position in retail, no matter the area or level. If you see yourself working in retail long-term, a sales job is an excellent experience that prepares you for management positions, marketing positions, and more.

Retail involves a complex logistics strategy behind the scenes. Supply chain and logistics within the industry involves a variety of in-store positions, warehouse positions, corporate positions, and more. Kickstarting your career with an entry-level position in this area opens a path for higher level positions, buying and merchandising positions, or even sales. Common entry-level jobs to get started in this section of retail include warehouse workers, inventory specialists, order fulfillment, and delivery drivers. You will learn important skills such as supply and demand knowledge, organization, team management, and scheduling. These skills kickstart careers in higher level supply chain management, manufacturing, buying, and more. Plus, your experience in the backend of retail will be very desirable if you choose to change directions to areas such as merchandising.

If you find yourself leaning to a more creative route, consider exploring opportunities in visual merchandising. Every retail storefront, from grocery stores to fashion, incorporate visual displays to catch the eyes of customers. The people behind these displays put a lot of thought and attention to detail in how they will be perceived by the customer. Those that choose a career in visual merchandising may even find themselves partnering with marketing teams, suppliers, and manufacturers as their career advances. Entry-level positions typically start out in brick-and-mortar stores. A job in this area of retail will cultivate many useful skills no matter what path your career takes, including professional communication skills, creativity, a deep understanding of the customer, and product knowledge.

If you are looking to lead, consider a managerial career path. Nearly all the retail paths mentioned above may lead a managerial option once qualifications are met. Many retailers have implemented managerial training programs specifically designed for those that know it is right for them. If you are looking to dive right into a management track, research positions and companies that offer these programs. These programs are often rotational and take employees through various positions to cultivate a skillset fit for success in a management position. If you are apprehensive about navigating your own cross-training and journey in retail, these programs offer a structured path and access to many connections in higher level positions.

There are a variety of factors to consider when looking for a position, such as the specific retail type, hours schedule, and overall company size. However, no matter what you think is right for you, consider how these factors affect the career path you are most interested in. For example, a small independent retailer may not have as much growth opportunities for those most interested in retail supply chain and logistics; on the other hand, a large retailer with an e-commerce platform has ample positions with retail logistics and supply chain to grow into. Smaller stores may provide you with a more hands-on experience in customer service, since most have fewer associates working.

Regardless of where you begin your retail career, you are never locked into a single-focus career path. Retail jobs in all areas of the industry cultivate transferable skills that are necessary no matter what position you are in. Entry-level jobs are gateways to various paths, and every single retail job you have is a key steppingstone in fueling your long-term career. Keep an open mind and cross-train as much as possible, and you will be a desirable employee no matter what you choose. AllRetailJobs has thousands of positions to help you kickstart a long and successful retail career!