Career and Job Search Guide

Retail Sales

To assist consumers who spend millions daily on consumer products, companies hire retail salespeople. They help people find the products they need and persuade them of the quality of their store's products. The majority of retail salespeople can explain product aspects and purpose with consumers.

Many salespeople also have responsibilities similar to cashiers, usually in department stores. For example, they often ring customers up at cash registers and bag the purchased products. If they work at the beginning or end of the day, salespeople are sometimes required to open or lockup registers. As with cashiers, salespeople are held accountable for money in a register and can be fired if large amounts are frequently missing.

Companies rely on friendly and helpful service to attract customers. If a customer is searching for an item and it is not on the shelves, a salesperson could attempt to locate it in the stockroom or order the item on the spot.

Companies that sell luxury or complicated products usually hire salespeople with specialized knowledge of the products they sell. A good example is a person selling cars since they need to explain specific car features and financing options available.

Some salespersons are responsible for handling items returned to their store and coordinating gift wrapping for clients that request it. Many are also assigned to restock shelves, coordinate product deliveries or shipments, keep track of product inventories, and setting up displays.

Salespersons need to be up to date on their store's promotions and special offers. They need to be aware of security risks and properly handle dangerous scenarios such as robberies.

Work environment. Salespersons working in retail stores usually work in brightly-lit and clean buildings. Salespeople are on their feet for extended periods of time and usually need approval from their manager to leave their sales area. Some salespeople, such as cars salespeople, are required to work outside.

Salespeople are frequently required to work nights, weekends, and long hours during the holiday season. Because of increased sales demand during the holidays, companies usually restrict salespeople from taking time off during the holiday season.

Since there are numerous part time job opportunities in sales, many students and other people seeking additional income work as salespeople. During 2006, a little more than one forth of salespersons were employed part time. Salespeople selling luxury or expensive goods usually are experienced and employed full time.