To understand what a sales floor associate does, you need to know the sales floor definition. The sales floor is the area where products are displayed and customers shop. A grocery, hardware or "big box" store like Walmart usually has products displayed in aisles, while a clothing store typically has garments hung on racks and folded on shelves or tables in a more open layout. A sales floor associate is an employee who works in these shopping areas, among the customers, so she can answer questions and assist customers in making purchase decisions.
Sales Floor Job Description
The first responsibility of a sales floor associate is to greet customers and ask if they can help them with their shopping. Often, customers will ask where they can find a particular item. Part of the sales floor associate's job is to know the layout of the store so he can direct or take customers to that area. He also needs to be able to explain the differences between products, answer questions about them and be on top of current promotions and discounts.
There's no "down time" for sales associates when they're on the sales floor. If no customers need their help, sales associate duties include restocking shelves and racks; refolding merchandise and straightening stacks of products; cleaning fitting rooms and putting away clothes; handle returns efficiently; take inventory; and clean by wiping mirrors and glass and dusting shelves. In some stores, sales floor associates may usher the customer to a payment desk, complete the sale and bag the purchase for them. Unlike a cashier, however, sales floor associates then return to the sales floor to help other customers.
Above all, sales floor associates are expected to act professional, friendly and courteous at all times so that customers remember the store as a pleasant place to shop. That ensures that they'll return to the store for future purchases.
Education, Training and Salary
Stores typically require that sales floor associates have a high school diploma or its equivalent. An aptitude for basic math is important, as is the willingness to learn the store's procedures and how to operate the point-of-sale terminal. Although experience in a sales environment is helpful when you're applying for the job, stores also hire those without experience. Sometimes the store holds a training class when there are several new hires. Other times, a manager or knowledgeable employee will show a new employee what to do.
Salaries depend partly on the type of sales environment or business. Retail sales associates had a median salary of $11.16/hour, as of May 2017. Sales associates in parts departments or stores had a median salary of $14.13/hour, while those in auto dealerships made $17.06/hour. A median salary is the midpoint in a list of salaries, where half made more and half made less. Sales associates selling high-dollar items, such as autos, may be paid on a commission - a percentage of sales - instead of a salary. Others may have a base salary and receive commission. Sales associates often have a dollar goal of sales they're expected to meet or surpass.
About the Industry
Most sales floor associates work full-time, but there are part-time opportunities, too. Many stores also hire extra workers for busy, seasonal times. Being a sales floor associate requires a lot of standing and walking around as well as bending down and reaching up for products. Some environments may require their associates to be capable of lifting heavy objects.
Years of Experience
Sales floor associates with experience may be paid higher salaries. They may also be considered for advancement to management positions. If you stay at one place of employment for a year or more, you'll usually receive modest raises on your work anniversary. Experience is certainly valuable if you're paid on a commission basis. Being able to sell products without being pushy or overbearing requires techniques that can be mastered with practice.
Job Growth Trend
The need for retail sales associates, which is similar to sales floor associates, is expected to grow two percent from 2016 to 2026. That's slower than the average for all occupations. The increasing popularity of online shopping has reduced the need for in-store sales associates, and is likely to continue to do so.