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10 Positions in Retail (and How to Hire Them)

Positions in retail span from entry-level roles to high-level management jobs. Your retail store might not need all positions, so understanding the differences can help you tailor your roles. Explore common retail job titles and tips for hiring for them.

Related: How to Hire for Your Customer Service Team

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1. Cashier

Cashiers work directly with customers when they’re ready to buy their merchandise. The primary duty is operating the cash register, which includes entering purchases, applying discounts and processing payments. Some stores have cashiers handle product returns and exchanges, while others have a separate service desk to complete those transactions.

Typically an entry-level position, the cashier role is important in building relationships with customers. High-quality cashiers know how to interact well with consumers, answer questions and solve problems for them to encourage them to come back.

Hiring tips

When hiring a cashier, consider customer service and interpersonal skills. It’s relatively easy to teach someone how to run a cash register and process transactions, but it’s not as easy to overcome soft skills that could affect the customer experience. While POS systems handle the math for your cashiers, it’s still helpful to have basic math skills for this role.

2. Sales associate

Sales associate might seem like another term for a cashier, but these positions in retail stores often work more closely with the customers. They’re often out on the sales floor where they can greet and interact with shoppers. They typically ask customers if they need help and can explain different products or make personalized recommendations.

In some stores, the sales associate also handles the role of cashier. They might help customers select what they want and then take them to the cash register when they’re ready to check out. Sales associates might also handle other duties when they’re not busy, such as straightening up displays, stocking displays and handling your cleaning checklists.

Hiring tips

Sales associates don’t have to be experienced salespeople, but it helps to have strong interpersonal skills and some basic sales knowledge. Candidates are typically more effective if they have the emotional intelligence to understand different customers and tailor their approach. It’s also helpful to hire someone who is flexible and willing to take on different tasks.

3. Stocker

Some retail stores hire stockers to handle putting new products on the shelves. They put out new inventory as it arrives or when the displays are low on products. Stockers also put returns back on the shelves. When they’re not putting out new products, they might straighten the displays and tidy the shelves to create a more appealing atmosphere. Stockers might help at the cash register when the store gets busy, and they often help customers find the products they need.

Hiring tips

When hiring a stocker, look for someone who is organized and can keep accurate records.It can be helpful if they understand how inventory works.

4. Custodian

Having a clean store creates a positive experience for your customers and makes them want to come back. If you run a small retail location, your cashiers, sales associates and stockers might handle the routine cleaning tasks. Some businesses also outsource to cleaning companies.

However, you might hire custodial staff if your store gets particularly messy or your other employees don’t have time to clean. This role might be combined with a maintenance role to handle basic repairs and tasks like changing light bulbs.

Hiring tips

Custodian and maintenance roles require a basic knowledge of tools and cleaning processes. Candidates should be comfortable getting dirty and handling all types of messes and spills. If you use or sell hazardous materials, they also need to be comfortable working around those products.

5. Security

Loss prevention is a priority for retail locations where shoplifting is a concern. You might hire dedicated security team members to minimize theft. Just the presence of a security guard can sometimes discourage people from shoplifting. This person can also help handle escalated situations to keep the store safer.

Hiring tips

Store security personnel should understand various security techniques. Previous security experience is helpful when hiring a security officer. They should also feel comfortable confronting shoplifters and handling potentially dangerous situations.

6. Visual merchandiser

Your merchandisers focus on how things look in your store. Getting the displays correct can entice people to come into your store, create a pleasant experience and increase sales. Merchandising involves design elements to make displays look nice, but it also involves psychology to determine what will encourage shoppers to spend more money.

Hiring tips

Successful candidates have an understanding of design and sales psychology. Having previous experience setting up store displays can be beneficial.

7. Department manager

Strong leadership helps operations run smoothly in your retail location. Hiring multiple levels of managers gives you an effective leadership structure. Department managers are responsible for overseeing individual departments within your store. Think about how your store is logically divided into departments. Assigning a manager to each one can provide support to those team members to keep the department efficient. Smaller shops might not have different departmentsor need multiple managers.

Hiring tips

The department manager role is one that your current associates might move into as they climb the retail ladder. They already understand how things work, so they can lead the processes as a department manager.

8. Assistant store manager

An assistant store manager oversees the operations in all departments. They help the general store manager keep everything running smoothly. The store manager often delegates some of their duties to the assistant manager. For instance, the assistant might train new hires.

Hiring tips

This is another role that you might fill from within, especially if an employee has held many roles within the store. Working as an assistant manager typically requires some previous supervisory experience, and the candidate may need to have extensive retail experience to understand the operations.

9. Store manager

Your store manager typically oversees all of the employees and department managers within the store. The duties vary and might include hiring, training, budgeting, safety and operations. Managers might also handle escalated customer concerns.

Hiring tips

Some companies look for a bachelor’s degree and previous management or supervisory experience for a store manager role. Retail experience is also important. You might promote a current assistant manager to your store manager role for an easier transition.

10. District or regional manager

If you run multiple retail locations, you might hire a district or regional manager. This person oversees all store locations within the assigned area. For larger operations with locations across a wider geographical area, you might hire multiple district managers with the locations divided into territories.

Hiring tips

A district manager often needs an extensive amount of management experience, preferably in the retail industry. They’re responsible for managing multiple locations, which can be challenging, so they need to work well under pressure and know how to prioritize duties. Candidates should understand advanced business practices to run a successful retail operation and manage all ranks of employees working for them.

FAQs about positions in retail

Is there a career path in retail?

Retail workers often move up through the ranks to earn higher pay and take on more responsibilities. Someone who starts as an entry-level cashier or sales associate might move into a specialized role, such as merchandising or inventory. Moving up through the management ranks is often a popular retail career path.

How do you write a job description for positions in retail?

Detail the specific duties of the role and systems they use, such as specific POS systems or inventory software. Outline your requirements and preferred skills as well as the expected working hours. Retail jobs often fall outside normal work hours, so applicants should be aware of the expectations. Include perks, such as discounts, that might attract more attention.

How do you choose retail job titles?

When deciding which roles to have for your retail store, consider the customer experience and the nature of your business. Stores selling technical or high-end products could benefit from specialized sales associates who can nudge shoppers toward a purchase, for instance. The size of your store and the volume of business you do can impact the number and type of roles you need. Smaller stores might share duties, such as inventory, with other roles instead of having specialized positions.

How do you advertise openings for positions in retail stores?

Hanging advertisements in your store can encourage customers who already shop there to apply. Offering discounts could make the job even more appealing. Word-of-mouth and referral bonuses for your current employees might generate more applications. You can also post your openings on Indeed and talk about your hiring needs on your social media accounts.

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