It's not all smiles and staff discounts, you know!

Fancy a role where you get to meet new people every day? Working in retail could be the answer. Ahead of finding your first job in a shop, there are some important things to know about a retail job before setting your sights on one. What do you know about working in retail? Retail roles are multi-faceted, and have a whole lot to offer when you find the right one.

Top things to know about a retail job before you start

There's loads of choice when it comes to retail jobs, and even those with no experience are welcome to explore this sector. So what is retail work? And what are the retail skills you'll need? Before you get your CV spick and span, take a look at the nine vital things to know for a retail job below:

1. Customer satisfaction is everything 

The customer is always right, so the saying goes. When working in retail, this will become your mantra as you'll need outstanding customer service skills. In fact, this is one the most important skills for any retail CV. Every time you meet and greet a new customer, you'll have to make them your top priority. That means listening to their needs and doing everything you can to serve them. In some roles – such as technology-based retail positions – this may mean explaining complex issues. In others, it might simply mean helping them when they need to return a faulty item of clothing. 

2. You'll be judged on your performance

A high-quality performance is expected. When working in retail, a core task could be upselling. That means helping customers find extras to add to their basket or offering them a loyalty card where they earn points the more they shop at your store. Much like any other sales role, yours will likely come with a set of targets and key performance metrics. You're going to need to show a variety of skills to excel in retail, such as being driven and hard-working. 

Of course, different retail positions will have different goals. When you're interviewing for a new role, you should be able to gauge how important reaching these targets will be. You can ask the interviewer directly about this aspect of the job to determine whether it's for you. The more information you have ahead of signing on the dotted line, the better. 

3. You'll need to get to know the shop inside and out

Do you know where the new season skirts are? How about the comfortable work shoes? When you're working in retail, you need to know the shop floor like the back of your hand. If you land a job in a shop, take the time to really get to know your surroundings. That means learning where different products are, so that you can point customers in the right direction. Chances are, stock will move around from time to time so you need to always have your finger on the pulse. 

4. Wave goodbye to your weekends

Love Sunday brunch with the girls? Working in retail may not be for you. The fact is that this is shift work and – spoiler alert – weekends are usually the busiest times, so you need to adapt. This is one of the biggest adjustments you'll have to make when working in retail for the first time. When Saturday comes around, it's all hands on deck. You may also find that it's tricky to get weekends off for special occasions, such as weddings or parties. For that reason, you need to consider whether working in retail is the right move for you as your lifestyle will play a huge role in whether this job suits your needs or not.

5. Organising stock will be key 

Whether it's folding clothes or stocking shelves, you'll spend large amounts of time organising stock when working in retail. Understanding the realities of the job ahead of time could make all the difference when you get through the door. While you may be on the checkout for some shifts, you may also spend hours on end dealing with organisational tasks.

6. It's physically demanding 

Charge up your Fitbit, as you'll be walking thousands and thousands of steps every single shift. Much of your work will involve walking around the shop, or standing in one position, which can be equally as tiring. The truth is that retail roles are very demanding physically. You may also find yourself lifting heavy boxes or moving large pieces of furniture. Rest assured though, if you're not in tip-top shape when you start a role like this one, you will be by the end of it!

7. You'll need to be a team player

One of the main things to know for a retail job is that you'll be working in a team. If you want to work in retail, this should come naturally to you. You'll be working closely with coworkers to get things done. If you get put on the same shifts with the same people again and again, you'll probably become close to them. Think of them as your “work family” – always there when you need them. If you're the type of person who prefers flying solo, you may find that this is not for you. Figure out whether it will work before sending off those applications. 

8. It's all in the detail 

When working in retail, you're representing a brand. You need to align with the brand values and get all of the finer details right. For example, you may find you have to fold clothes in a particular way or use certain terminology with customers. The moment you get a role in a shop, you'll need to familiarise yourself with these quirks. The sooner you get to grips with in-house ways, the sooner you'll feel comfortable in the position. 

9. You'll have to remain positive 

Long hours, demanding customers, and organising stock – it's enough to wear down even the most positive of people. However, if you want to succeed in this role, you're going to need to be as positive as possible. That means focusing on the good sides of the job, while facing the bad with a smile. If you're someone who has a naturally sunny disposition, you might just be perfect for this one! 

How to work in retail with no experience

If this is your first foray into the retail job market, worry not as most of the retail skills listed above are soft skills, or transferable skills which you probably already possess. While some employers might look for industry-specific skills in your CV, hiring managers in the retail world often place a bigger emphasis on soft skills as many hard or technical skills in retail, such as product knowledge, can be learned on the job anyway. Regardless of your work experience, you can still land a job in this sector by showcasing your strengths in your CV

Still up for it?

Working in retail can be demanding. However, if you're looking for a flexible role where you'll meet loads of new people, it could be just the ticket for you. And now that you've got a good grasp of things to know for a retail job, why not go ahead and see if this sector is the right fit for you? You might just end up loving it!

Looking to land a job in retail? Supercharge your CV by submitting it for a free CV review today.

This article was originally written by Charlotte Grainger and has been updated by Elizabeth Openshaw.

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