Customers rarely notice them, but stock associates play a critical role in the retail industry. Without their work, stores would be messy and shelves empty. A large store can't function without at least one stock associate – who may also be called stock clerks – and, they're as important as cashiers, managers and other visible retail workers. Stock clerks add value to stores, although their paychecks may not reflect their importance.
Although stores of all types employ stock clerks, the typical stock associate job description is pretty similar across the retail industry. Basically, these workers are responsible for managing and moving merchandise. They accept shipments from suppliers, verify that the shipments are correct and complete, prepare items for sale (which might include cataloguing merchandise in a computer system and creating price labels) and putting stock on the shelves. They also rearrange displays, and set up and move signage.
Stock associates also restock shelves when the shelves become sparse; they remove old stock if it hasn't sold within a specified time. Often, stock associates are responsible for unloading shipments from delivery trucks. If items need to be assembled, as they would for a furniture store, stock clerks might be responsible for accomplishing that task. Although these jobs generally are not customer-facing roles, a key stock associate duty is to help customers and other store employees find merchandise in the store.
Stock associate jobs are all about manual labor. As such, it's uncommon for a store to require that its stock associates meet any strict educational requirements. Many employers will hire stock associates who don't have a high school diploma or GED, so a college degree is virtually never required. That said, some employers do require employees to have high school degrees or equivalent.
Small shops often don't employ stock clerks, instead requiring cashiers and other employees to maintain the stock. All types of large stores do employ stock clerks. Grocery stores and big-box stores often have teams of stock associates on staff, who may specialize in different areas of the store.
Some stock associates work during typical daytime hours, but many of these jobs require early morning or overnight hours. It's easier for clerks to organize shelves and unload shipments when the store is either quiet (for 24-hour businesses) or closed to customers.
Years of Experience and Salary
Although some stock associate job postings specify that candidates should have experience, these roles don't usually require it. Stock associates can be quickly trained on the job. These are good entry-level jobs for young workers with plenty of physical strength and stamina.
Because they don't require any specialized knowledge, stock associate jobs aren't highly paid. The average hourly pay for stock clerks is $13.20, as of 2017, but these jobs typically pay between $8 and $15 per hour. Having prior experience working as a stock clerk is unlikely to affect your pay much, if at all.
Job Growth Trend
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track or predict the growth trend for stock clerks, it's safe to say that stock associate jobs will continue to exist in brick-and-mortar stores. That said, people who manage stock in warehouses may have cause for concern as some companies introduce robotic automation into their processes, which eliminates some jobs.