How to become a stock assistant (including skills)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 11 July 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Stock rotation and replenishment are a vital part of any retail operation, ensuring that customers have access to the newest or freshest stock available. Having a full inventory of stock allows a business to maximise its revenue and keep operating during busy periods. A larger business that has a wide range of stock may hire a stock assistant to manage its inventory as a full-time role. In this article, we explore what a stock assistant is, what they do as part of a larger business and how to become a stock assistant.
What is a stock assistant?
To know how to become a stock assistant, it's helpful to understand what this role entails. A stock assistant is a retail professional that is responsible for organising and replenishing stock in a retail outlet such as a supermarket or clothing store. Busy stores with a large amount of traffic often run out of goods relatively quickly, requiring a stock assistant to supervise the inventory levels and replace any goods as necessary. A stock assistant is sometimes referred to as stock control and works as part of a larger stock team that manages the overall inventory of a retail outlet.
The nature of a stock assistant role means they typically provide information and guidance for customers within the store. This means stock assistants usually have excellent product knowledge about the goods they're stacking and where to find them. Depending on the store, a stock assistant may use digital hardware such as a hand terminal to check the barcodes of items, which then provides information on how many units of that product are in stock and any price reductions that may apply to the item.
How to become a stock assistant
Starting a career in retail as a stock assistant requires a range of different skills relating to customer service, organisation and time management. While stock assistants don't generally require formal qualifications or certifications, a strong educational foundation may lead to career advancement within the retail sector. If you want to start a role within the retail sector, you can use the following steps as a guide on how to become a stock assistant:
1. Earn your education
While there are no mandatory educational requirements to become a stock assistant, a basic understanding of core subjects such as English and numeracy is useful in the role. Some businesses may hold interviews for new candidates to test their fundamental education to ensure they're able to work in the environment. If you're looking for a higher education qualification for your retail career, you may consider earning a diploma or similar degree in retail business or business management.
2. Build up your work experience
Work experience is a useful tool to have when you're applying for a stock assistant or similar role. Having experience in the sector demonstrates to employers that you understand how to properly manage stock, interact with customers and work in a retail setting. You may consider working as a customer service assistant or a similar entry-level role in the retail outlet that you're looking to work in as a stock assistant. Different outlets have different approaches to the role, so working in a supermarket may be very different from working in a clothing store.
3. Complete your CV
It's crucial to have a well-formatted, easy-to-understand CV if you're applying for a role as a stock assistant. You can format your CV in a number of different ways depending on the experience and skills you have already built. If you have very little experience, consider placing your skills and education towards the top of your CV so that recruiters can quickly identify your potential.
If you have work experience in a related field, prioritise this in your CV as it demonstrates what you might provide to a role. Always tailor your CV to the specific position you're applying for, as this allows you to identify the job description requirements and reference these in your application. A cover letter also provides a complete overview of your working style, work ethic and passion for the role, which is useful during your overall application.
Related: CV format guide: examples and tips
4. Earn a full-time position
When you apply for a stock assistant role, take the time to prepare for the interview by looking at commonly asked questions. Most employers ask questions about you and your work history, while also asking you to provide examples of when you've used transferable skills. If you don't have a large amount of work experience, you may consider talking about the skills you've built during your education, such as time management and how these apply to the role you're applying for.
5. Complete your internal training
The majority of stock assistants receive training during the course of their employment, learning from more senior colleagues and specific training programmes. Many employers have induction courses, delivered in a classroom environment that provides an overview of health and safety, company policy and how to handle customer service situations. Depending on the industry you're working in, you may receive specific training around handling and organising different products.
6. Start building transferable skills
During the course of your employment, you can start building transferable skills that apply to a wider variety of roles. The nature of the role means that stock assistants naturally start to learn more about organisational skills, collaborating as part of a larger team and dealing with members of the public in a helpful and positive manner. In many retail roles, you may find yourself in uncommon situations that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills, especially when dealing with customers. You can use these skills across your career going forward and start to list examples of them within your CV.
What skills does a stock assistant require?
It's beneficial if a stock assistant has a good understanding of organisation and stock rotation, especially if the store has a specific policy for replenishing stock. Stock assistants require a positive attitude at all times, especially when dealing with customer complaints or general queries. Stock assistants typically work on the shop floor as part of a much larger team, which requires exceptional communication skills and the ability to collaborate as a team player. The primary skills of a stock assistant include:
Time management skills
Time management is crucial in a busy retail role, especially when it might be necessary for an individual to balance multiple tasks with unscheduled customer interactions. In a supermarket setting, for example, a stock assistant might consider how to best split their time between replenishing stock and retrieving more stock from the storeroom. This is particularly useful in a busy environment when a variety of products require replenishing. Time management skills also include punctuality, which demonstrates to an employer your willingness to work in the role and be a dependable member of the team.
A key part of a stock assistant role is properly organising inventory in a way that is clear to customers and adheres to company policies. Organisation skills help stock assistants perform their daily tasks to the best of their ability while also properly organising their own time in an efficient, effective manner. Depending on the employer, a stock assistant may use digital hardware to help them remain organised, such as hand-held terminals that relay information about the entire business stock.
Customer service skills
Customer service skills help a stock assistant provide a friendly and welcoming environment for customers within the store. These skills help a stock assistant provide useful information about products and where they're located, which is a common query from shoppers. Customer service skills generally include a positive demeanour, a helpful attitude and the knowledge about the products to provide any necessary further information. Stock assistants typically build their customer service skills over time while working within the environment.
Empathy is the skill of understanding another individual's feelings or perspective on a specific situation. Having empathy is ideal for a stock assistant, as it allows you to better address a customer's needs. You may use empathy skills with a customer that is complaining about a situation. By demonstrating that you understand their frustrations and are willing to help in any way, you're more likely to defuse a situation and provide a better level of customer service.
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