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Skills Required for Jobs in Retail

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Retail jobs exist in many functional areas, including information systems, human resources, finance and accounting. However, when retail job skills are discussed, the conversation typically centers on skills specific to in-store retail sales and service associate positions. These are the employees who interact directly with customers. Retail job skills include a combination of soft skills and technical talents.

Patience with Customers

Patience is a necessary and often overlooked virtue for retail employees. Not all customers are exceptionally kind, and good retail associates have the patience to diffuse tough situations with difficult customers, notes JobBankUSA.com. Service associates typically listen first when a customer shares a complaint. Patience includes hearing out the customer before responding. In a retail environment, it also means taking the time and steps necessary to work through a customer-service issue to a complete and accurate resolution.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are universally important in many jobs, but JobBankUSA.com and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook both specifically mention communication skills as essential for retail associates. The required skills include listening effectively and explaining the specific benefits of various products and services to customers. Retail associates must also clearly explain the information and processes the customer needs to complete a transaction. At the same time, they must maintain a pleasant and approachable demeanor.

Dependability and Reliability

Dependability is vital for sustained success in retail. Employers want employees they can confidently rely on and can trust to make important decisions. This is especially true in 21st century retail, where empowerment is the norm and workers may also be customers. Companies are allowing employees to make more decisions and resolve customers' problems. This empowerment is good for both the employee and the organization. However, empowerment only works if employees are knowledgeable and dependable.

Going Above and Beyond

One skill that employers often desire from employees is initiative. This is the ability to see beyond specifically defined tasks, to perform better and to find extra things to do when one job is done. Retailers value college degrees, but a degree is not usually necessary for advancement to supervisor or administrator. Associates who prove capable of going above and beyond and seeing what needs done without being told are more promotable.

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About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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