Retail Associate Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Retail Associate, or Sales Associate, is responsible for serving customers in a shop or showroom. Their duties include greeting customers, offering advice and information about products and services and taking payment for items. 


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Retail Associate duties and responsibilities

Retail Associates are the public face of their employers and they are responsible for a range of tasks, including: 

  • Welcoming customers and offering assistance
  • Showing customer where to find items or directing them to alternatives
  • Handling cash, using tills and Point of Sale (POS) equipment
  • Working towards sales targets
  • Maintaining merchandising stands and tidying item displays
  • Increasing sales and highlighting promotional items to customers
  • Rotate and replenish stock on the shop floor
  • Deal with customers returning and refunding items


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What does a Retail Associate do?

Retail Associates handle customer enquiries and provide information about the various product lines available, store policies and the services on offer. They provide a link between the business and its customers, promoting the company culture and maintaining a thorough knowledge of the products available. They also handle complaints, often acting as the first point of contact with customers. Retail Associates typically clean and clear various areas of the shop floor, including relocating miss-shelved stock, tidying up displays and ensuring that the shop floor is kept clean. 


Retail Associate skills and qualifications

Retail Associates can be responsible for a number of different jobs including dealing with customers, managing stock and reaching sales targets. To succeed, they need various skills and qualifications, including:

  • Excellent customer service skills and knowledge of company policies
  • An eye for detail 
  • Sales and marketing skills
  • Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills
  • Proven problem-solving skills 
  • Time management and multitasking skills
  • Ability to work well with the team
  • Decision-making skills


Retail Associate experience requirements

Retail Associate can be an entry-level job with no experience required, but some companies prefer candidates who have worked in a similar environment. Applicants who have experience working in customer-facing roles will have an advantage, as will those who have worked in any retail role. Any previous experience of sales or marketing is useful, as is previous experience of working in a fast-paced, and sometimes highly pressurised environment. Although full training is usually offered, applicants who have used Point of Sale (POS) or till systems before must be confident handling money and processing payments. 


Retail Associate education and training requirements

Retail Associates must have a GCSE in maths and English (or equivalent) to demonstrate basic literacy and numeracy skills. Applicants who have completed training in health and safety or manual handling will have an advantage when it comes to maintaining safety standards and moving stock. There are a number of specific vocational qualifications that will show candidates’ proficiency such as a Level 2 certificate in retail skills, a diploma in retail skills for sales professionals or a City and Guilds in visual merchandising.  


Retail Associate salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary of Retail Associates is £8.87 per hour, although this depends on the level of seniority, the area in which the shop is located and the requirements of the role.


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Retail Associate job description FAQs


Who does a Retail Associate report to?

The reporting structure for Retail Associates depends on the size of the shop. In larger department stores, Sales Associates will typically report to a Team Leader or Departmental Manager. They may also report to a Visual Merchandiser or another creative team member. In smaller shops, Retail Associates often report directly to the Store Manager or the Retail Manager. 


What should you look for in a Retail Associate CV?

Retail Associates must be flexible and able to deal with a range of different tasks, so candidates who have experience of working in a busy environment will be an asset. Applicants who can demonstrate a strong work ethic and a commitment to providing excellent service will have an advantage. Retail Associates who are physically fit or have experience of heavy lifting can also be a useful asset to the team. Administrative and organisational skills are incredibly helpful in a retail environment, so candidates with either are in demand.


What qualities make a good Retail Associate?

Retail Associates need to be quick-thinking in order to help customers in a variety of situations, and a diplomatic approach to dealing with complaints is also a bonus. A good memory helps Retail Associates to learn the product knowledge they need to encourage customers to complete a purchase. Good Retail Associates are interested in improving the customer experience and they take the initiative when they see jobs that need doing around the store. 

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