Retail sales positions make up the backbone of any retail store and its financial health. They make up the individuals responsible for selling merchandise and making customers happy. There are typically two retail sales positions: retail sales associates and retail sales managers. It's these individuals' job to work together to appease customers and make sales.
Retail sales associates are on the front lines of retail establishments. It is the job of sales associates to greet customers and figure out what they are looking for, then help them find it. They answer any questions customers may have about that product or the store itself. They may also be required to ring up purchases and handle money. Retail sales managers organize associates, train new ones, enforce store rules, assign duties to associates and take on the role of a sales associate if it is busy or if someone calls in sick for a day.
Those working in retail sales position typically only need a high school diploma to get a job, or a GED. This does not mean that no special knowledge or skills are needed. Customer service skills are essential, and to get sales position in high-end retail establishments a sales associate must polish these skills. This is done with years of experience an ongoing training. Managers can benefit from an associate or bachelor's degree in business administration, as well as experience as a sales associate.
Those who are employed in retail sales positions typically work indoors, in cool environments, though exceptions can me made depending on the place of employment. Often, these positions come with a good amount of stress attached, because of pressure to meet sales goals and catering to a flood of customers at one time. Commissioned employees, who earn a percentage on what they sell, often feel more pressure sell. Stress is often heightened during the holiday season or when major sales occur, as store traffic generally increases.
Advancement and Growth
Retail sales positions allow for growth within a company, so long as an employee performs the job well. Retail sales associates can eventually become retail sales managers. These managers can then become store managers. If the store is big enough, such as in a department store, retail sales workers could branch off into different sections that may have higher positions open, or transition out of sales and into administrative positions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 14, 2010, retail sales associates make an average annual salary of $24,630 in the United States. Managers of retail sales, on the other hand, make an average annual salary of $39,130. Salaries vary depending on the state and whether commission is given for sales.