What does it take to work in Retail?

Have you ever thought about working in retail? It’s certainly a big industry. Over 11% of the UK’s working population are employed in the retail sector and it’s a sector that’s predicted to grow by around 15% over the next 5 years. This makes it a really big business, and one that’s ripe with opportunities for people looking for work.

One of the things that sometimes puts people off working in the retail sector is the thought of working as a shop assistant. Of course, this is an absolutely vital part of retail and the industry couldn’t survive without it, but actually the retail sector is much more diverse than many people think. This means that there is likely to be retail jobs to suit everyone from school leavers and students looking for part time jobs in London to people looking for full time jobs in Bristol.

As well as selling goods and customer service, retail also includes aspects such as buying. This involves sourcing and buying products to sell in shops, as well as sourcing materials that can be used in manufacturing before entering the retail chain. You could also find yourself working in design, coming up with new product ideas or in HR, providing professional support to managers and hiring and training new staff. You could also get involved with the financial side of the organisation, making sure all regulations are complied with, or perhaps developing IT business systems to benefit the whole company. Other retail jobs could be taking care of the PR – promoting the company’s products – merchandising products to maximise sales, managing a store or working in retail banking.

As you can see, there is much more to retail than first meets the eye. If you’ve ever thought about working in the sector and are currently contemplating your next move, what are some of the key qualities you should have to make your retail career a success? Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list as many qualities will vary depending on what sort of job you go for, but hopefully it will give you a guide as to what might be expected of you:
  • Customer service. There’s no getting away from it; retail is always going to be customer focused and so this is a really crucial part of working in the industry.
  • Forward thinking. Much of the retail sector’s success depends on its ability to continue to develop and grow, so if you can plan ahead and assess the potential impact of decisions, you could be great at this.
  • Innovation. Retail also needs things to be done better, faster, to a higher standard and more efficiently all the time. Creative and innovative thinking is vital.
  • Management. Retail depends on good management to keep things running smoothly, so this is another really important quality. If you have good time management skills or experience of managing other people, it could be a good career for you.
  • Perseverance. Like any other industry, parts of the retail sector are very competitive so determination to succeed is vital in this fast paced environment