Retail sales representatives are responsible for helping drive a store's sales of merchandise and services to customers. With the wide variety of retail environments, the specific products and services they represent can differ significantly between retailers, however, many of the tasks are universal for retail sales reps. They are generally expected to have working knowledge of the majority of the products a store sells, even when the representative is assigned to specific locations. Retail sales representatives should have a friendly demeanor, the ability to make customers feel welcome, excellent communication skills, the ability to explain the functions of various products and to direct customers to the locations within the store where they may find the products they're seeking.
Retail sales representatives typically work in a single location and are assigned shifts. Some retailers are open 24 hours, and may assign overnight shifts. Other retailers will have overnight shifts so that their stock rooms can be replenished while the store is closed to customers. Depending on the structure, representatives may work alone or in teams, and may or may not be assigned to specific departments. In most instances, retail sales positions include moderate physical demands, such as standing or walking for the majority of a shift, and the ability to lift heavy objects. Representatives may also be assigned secondary duties such as cash register operation, cleaning, inventory management, maintaining fixtures, loss prevention and stocking merchandise on shelves. Representatives assigned to specific areas may be reassigned to other areas as needed.
There are no formal education requirements for retail sales representative positions. Prospective employers often desire previous retail experience, while it is usually required for specialized departments. However, there are many positions that are entry-level (many high school and college students will work as retail sales reps as their first job). The majority of retail establishments train their reps in-house, either directly by managers or with other hourly employees acting as mentors.
Retail Sales Representative Tasks
- Ensure that paperwork such as contracts or warranties are completed properly.
- Provide customer service, answering questions and resolving problems.
- Sell products and services to customers, explaining and demonstrating their advantages.
- Process sales transactions and handle customer payments.