Why work in retail? 8 reasons retail can be rewarding

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 September 2022

Published 30 November 2021

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.

If you enjoy being around people and have strong interpersonal skills, working in retail might be the right career path for you. Retail often offers flexible hours that help you to achieve a good work-life balance, and sales retail jobs can offer competitive pay and the opportunity to grow within the company. Learning more about retail can help you to decide if it's something you'd like to pursue professionally. In this article, we provide possible answers to 'why work in retail?' and outline a range of retail jobs.

Why work in retail?

If you're looking for a new role, you may have seen many job opportunities for working in shops or sales and be wondering, 'why work in retail?' If you're a people person who enjoys being around others, are adept at handling stressful situations and are effective at multitasking, you could have a promising career in retail. Working with customers directly can be challenging, but it can also be highly rewarding. Being able to help someone find something they like and make their day better can be a good feeling.

The retail industry is shifting as new technology changes the customer experience and allows for online selling. This has led to new roles opening up at all levels within the retail industry, so there's likely something to match your experience or interests. Here are eight reasons you might want to choose retail for your next job:

1. You enjoy working with people

Retail jobs usually involve a lot of interaction with people. If you're a person who likes being busy and talking with different people, being a sales assistant could be a rewarding experience. Some of your duties may include talking to customers, figuring out what they want and making sure they get it quickly. Being able to empathise with others understand what they're trying to communicate is important. As a sales assistant, you serve as a sort of ambassador for the company you work for. Being friendly and supportive to the public can improve their opinion of the company at large.

2. You want to work flexible hours

If you're looking for a job that gives you more freedom with your schedule, then a career in the retail sector is a suitable choice. Shops often have a range of part-time and full-time positions to accommodate different operating hours throughout the week. If you have other commitments like school or family, you may find that retail work allows you to earn a wage while attending to other things that are important in your life.

Related: How does retail work? (Including definition, types and tips)

3. You're looking for an entry-level opportunity

Retail is a great choice if you don't have much work experience, as soft skills are usually more valuable than your technical abilities. Many retail employers don't require any experience at all, as they like to train new employees whilst on the job. Entry-level jobs are an excellent way to test out an industry. You can learn about customer service and how retail works while gaining valuable experience if you decide to pursue a career as a buyer or manager later on.

4. Your goal is to work higher up in a specific company

Working in retail is a great way to start out in a company if you're at the beginning of your career. You can use your time as a sales assistant to pursue promotion through various schemes or training sessions. Eventually, you may be able to rise to leadership or executive positions. If you're already working at a company and a higher-level position becomes available, you may have an advantage over external candidates because you're familiar with how the company works.

Related: What is a retail job and how to get one (plus salary info)

5. You want to improve your time management and organisation

If you endeavour to improve your time management and organisation, then retail is a fantastic industry to become a part of. Retail employees usually have a number of tasks to complete throughout the day and may work on two or more at once to get everything done. Throughout this process, you can learn the importance of task prioritisation. This is a highly transferable skill that future employers are likely to appreciate.

6. You want to improve your problem-solving skills

Problem-solving is another important, transferrable skill that you may use in a retail environment. Whether you're operating tills, handling stock deliveries or assisting customers with requests, you're likely to encounter a number of unexpected obstacles throughout the day. Learning to handle these in a calm, logical manner can prepare you for many other roles in the future.

7. You want to get better at handling pressure

Working with the public can be rewarding, but it can also lead to tense situations or conflict, especially around busy times in the year like Christmas or Black Friday. It's crucial that you're able to handle pressure calmly while diffusing any tensions in a resolute and tactile manner. You may deal with all kinds of people every day, including those frustrated or disappointed about not getting what they want from you, a product or the company. Working in retail can quickly improve your communication and conflict resolution skills.

8. You're a student

Students who want part-time income or have little experience may find retail work invaluable. If you're looking to enhance your CV with real-world experience while earning a wage, it can be a good idea to start in retail. Students may also enjoy retail jobs because they're more social than traditional office work. Roles like a cashier or customer service representative can provide great opportunities to interact with the public regularly and strengthen your interpersonal skills.

Having regular contact helps you build patience, empathy and charisma. Each of these skills can help you to be a more attractive candidate during job interviews in the future. The experience can also show you what kind of career you want to move into after completing your education. For example, marketing students can gain insight into advertising products and prices, while business students can gain an understanding of different aspects of running a company.

Related: How to write a student CV (with template)

What sort of retail job should you get?

Depending on what you're hoping to gain from your retail job, there are a number of different roles you can choose from. Your chosen role may influence which company you choose to work for. For example, if you're interested in dealing with people directly, customer service roles, such as salesperson or cashier, might be right for you.

If your passion is looking after products, a role handling the store layout could be a great choice. If you're hoping to make a big difference for society, working for a charity may be the best fit. If you're more interested in making a positive impact on a business through sales numbers or analytics, then maybe head into merchandising or supply chain.

What are the most important skills in retail?

Being a retail employee can help you to build a range of transferable skills. These include:

  • Sales: At times, you may encounter customers that aren't sure about a purchase. You use a combination of product knowledge and persuasion to entice a customer to buy the goods.

  • Multitasking: Retail workers usually have a range of admin tasks to perform alongside interacting with the public. You use multitasking skills to complete each of these while balancing other duties.

  • Time management: You complete your duties throughout the day according to a set time limit, so it's important to use your time effectively.

  • Accounting skills: Depending on your level of seniority, you may handle accounting duties for a company. This means keeping track of financial documents, taxes, making reports and tracking inventory.

  • Interpersonal skills: A lot of your day is likely to be spent around customers or coworkers. Being proficient in communication, active listening and negotiation can improve the service you provide and improve your working relationships.

  • Resolving conflict: Working with the public also means that you're likely to occasionally communicate with disgruntled people. Resolving conflict efficiently can make your day less stressful and incentivise customers to return to the business.

  • Problem-solving skills: Obstacles can arise at any time throughout your day, such as stock shortages, shoplifting, technology not working properly and late deliveries. Problem-solving skills help you to handle each of these issues calmly and effectively.

Related: 10 essential retail skills

Responsibilities of a retail worker

If the qualities and skills above sound like you, you could suit working in a retail position. If you intend on taking a job in retail, it's important to know what employers expect of you. A few responsibilities a retail worker might have on a daily basis include:

  • greeting customers

  • handling customer complaints

  • assisting customers with their purchases

  • processing returns or exchanges maintaining inventory levels

  • keeping displays stocked with product samples

  • maintaining the cleanliness of floors, counters, shelves and merchandise

  • operating point-of-sale systems to check out customers

Related: Cash handling skills for your CV: examples and steps

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