Skills You Will Gain from Working in Retail

By Grace Tino

Working in retail is a very dynamic and rewarding career, and there is more to the industry than meets the eye. A retail job is not simply made up of ringing up a customer, folding clothes, or stocking shelves. When you work a retail position, you play an important role in creating a positive customer experience and memorable reputation for the company. Starting out in retail can set you up for a long-term and markedly successful retail career. However, if you are nervous about being locked into a retail position, don't be! Any experience in retail generates very desirable and transferrable skills that can assist in any career path. Whether you are running the customer service desk, assisting customers on the sale floor, or even managing the store's inventory, you are cultivating invaluable skills that will play into your success in your current and future jobs. What are the retail skills you can gain that will make your resume shine?

  1. Customer Service: Customer service skills are one of the most well-known skills to come from retail experience. Customer service is the assistance and guidance of customers throughout their shopping, returns, online orders, and more. You will learn more than just answering questions; customer service skills involve a care and knowledge for the consumer desirable at any client-focused business. Customer service skills involve making customers feel cared for, important, and happy. If you have customer service skills, you know what it takes to represent a brand and create loyal customers. For retailers, as well as other service-oriented businesses such as food, supply chain, hospitality, and even banking, maintaining a client base is crucial for survival. Any business you apply to, whether retail or something else, is looking for a candidate that understands how to assist and maintain customers.

  2. Interpersonal Communication: While customer service heavily involves communication, the skillset can be somewhat broad to some employers who are looking for more specific talents. Interpersonal communication skills are important to customer service, coworkers, and upper-level management. Retail jobs will have you communicating all day, every day. Even more importantly, you will gain experience working with a diverse community of coworkers and customers. Your interpersonal skills will show hiring managers that you not only know how to keep customers happy but can also effectively communicate in any situation.

  3. Mathematical/Financial Knowledge: All retail positions involve a certain level of numeracy. If you are working at the register, you are constantly improving your knowledge of transactions. You will be handling debit cards, credit cards, and calculating the change for different customers. If you are on the inventory side, you will be tracking stock levels throughout the store. Retail salespeople must track and analyze their sales to find trends and areas to improve. No matter what area of a retail business you work in, you will cultivate mathematic skills desirable in any business.

  4. Teamwork: Chances are that you will not be working solo in your retail job. There are usually multiple teams coordinating together within one retail storefront. Some common teams in a retail store go by department: customer service, sales, inventory, order fulfillment, and cashiers. Teamwork skills include proper communication with others, multitasking, and knowing when to accept or give help. Teamwork experience is extremely valuable in any other profession; plus, a team player demonstrates valuable potential for a leadership position!

  5. Problem Solving: Many retail positions involve constant problem solving. A retail customer service associate must be able to brainstorm possible solutions to make an unhappy customer leave satisfied. Perhaps you are a merchandiser that needs to strike a deal to bring in a new vendor. Retail salespeople need to be quick on their feet when helping a customer find what they need. After working retail, you are guaranteed to leave with a well-developed sense of initiative and creativity that support you in taking on problems in any industry.

  6. Working Under Pressure: It is no secret that not every day working in retail is an easy one. A rather impressive skill that comes from working retail is composure in stressful situations. Retail workers can be presented with numerous stressful situations daily; long lines, a disgruntled customer, messy displays, or missing orders can all factor into a high-pressure situation. If you are skilled at working under pressure, you are prepared to multitask and act fast; that is a skill that is transferrable to any career, as stressful situations can pop up in any business.

  7. Business Knowledge: Working in retail means you get to see how a business runs firsthand. Retail workers gain skills in business awareness such as product knowledge, consumer habits, sales analysis, and day-to-day operations. Consider the impact you have brought to your store when presenting your business skills to a hiring team. Did you have any creative ideas? Did you get to make an impact on any large decisions? Business awareness is transferrable throughout the spectrum of retail positions and to other industries. In an interview, connect your business skills to the company you are interviewing with and share some ideas on how you make an impact- you will surely impress the hiring team!

  8. Responsibility: A retail worker is not just responsible for his/her routine tasks; retail workers are responsible for the overall success of the store and the company. As a retail worker, you are on the front lines for managing the daily operations of a storefront. Some responsibilities that come with a retail job include customer satisfaction, team coordination, safety, and sales. However, to successfully manage these responsibilities, a retail worker must also exercise strong self-discipline. A sense of responsibility starts from within- being on time, dressing and presenting yourself properly, having a positive attitude, and seeing problems through. A responsible employee is desirable at any business, no matter the position, company size, or industry.

Retail jobs develop skills that are highly coveted by hiring teams in any industry. Whether you plan to stay on a retail career path, or you are simply looking to gain work experience, a retail job is one of the best places to start. A retail position will cultivate some of the most sought-after transferrable skills and make you a standout candidate in any interview. Start your retail experience today and explore the best job opportunities with AllRetailJobs!