Retail Sales Associate Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: July 28, 2022


A Retail Sales Associate, or Sales Associate, helps customers find merchandise and purchase products in a store. Their duties include ensuring the store is appropriately stocked with merchandise, assisting customers as needed and performing transactions like sales and returns.


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Retail Sales Associate duties and responsibilities

A Retail Sales Associate is responsible for handling various sales activities in a retail store, including facilitating purchases and providing customer service. The specific duties and responsibilities of a Retail Sales Associate vary widely but typically include the following: 

  • Greeting customers when they walk through the door
  • Building rapport through conversation and honest recommendations
  • Ringing up sales and arranging for delivery or pick-up of the customer’s order if needed
  • Inviting customers to search the company’s website for coupons and other ways to save money
  • Informing customers of any extra charges if necessary
  • Inviting the customer to join a loyalty program if there is one
  • Assisting in maintaining the back stock room and setting up merchandise displays on the sales floor
  • Collaborating with fellow team members to keep the sales floor area clean and organized at all times


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What does a Retail Sales Associate do?

Retail Sales Associates typically work in brick-and-mortar stores that sell products and merchandise directly to customers. They are responsible for ensuring customers have a positive and productive experience while in the store, by helping when needed and keeping the store looking clean, orderly and well-stocked. They may also write reports or handle inventory and deliveries, depending on the size of the store and the needs of the retail location. Most Retail Sales Associates perform a variety of duties that can shift day to day depending on the needs of the store.


Retail Sales Associate skills and qualifications

Successful Retail Sales Associates should have the following skills and qualifications: 

  • Familiarity with POS (point of sale) systems and the ability to learn new technologies
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Cheerful working attitude
  • Outstanding customer service skills
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule
  • Ability to upsell


Retail Sales Associate salary expectations

A Retail Sales Associate makes an average of $12.66 per hour. The exact amount will often vary depending on the location of the position and the exact division of retail that the Retail Sales Associate works in. 


Retail Sales Associate education and training requirements

A specific level of education generally is not a requirement for Retail Sales Associates, though most stores require an advanced degree for management positions. While many stores prefer Retail Sales Associates with a high school diploma or equivalent, it is generally not a requirement. Many high school students work part-time as a Retail Sales Associate. 


Retail Sales Associate experience requirements

Most stores prefer Retail Sales Associates with some prior retail experience. Often high school and college students work retail jobs to help boost their resume. It’s a good way to get experience and move up into management.


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Frequently asked questions about Retail Sales Associates


What makes a good Retail Sales Associate?

Excellent Retail Sales Associates tend to share a number of skills and attributes that allow them to perform exceptionally well at their jobs:

  • Communication: Communication is a vital skill for Retail Sales Associates. Since their primary focus is helping customers select and purchase products, knowing how to communicate clearly is necessary. 
  • Knowledge: Great Retail Sales Associates have extensive knowledge about the products they sell. They’re able to share details and facts with customers when needed. 
  • Enthusiasm: Good Retail Sales Associates are enthusiastic about the products and merchandise they sell, and they’re excited to share their knowledge and appreciation with customers. 
  • Problem-solving: Knowing how to solve customer problems with the right product is an important attribute for a Retail Sales Associate. 
  • Empathy: Occasionally, Retail Sales Associates may encounter customers struggling to make a decision or facing a challenge in their buying journey. Empathy for their situation can help turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer. 
  • Relationship building: Outstanding Retail Sales Associates can quickly develop positive relationships with customers, leading to customer sales. 
  • Number literacy: It’s important for Retail Sales Associates to have a firm grasp of basic math skills to help make sales and complete transactions.


What is the difference between a Retail Sales Associate and a Sales Associate?

Often, the titles Retail Sales Associates and Sales Associates are used interchangeably. The key difference between the two is the industries in which they work. Generally, Retail Sales Associates work exclusively in retail locations where they interact with customers face to face. Sales Associates can work for companies who conduct business over the phone or online rather than through a brick-and-mortar store. Usually, Retail Sales Associates perform additional duties, like stocking shelves or handling inventory, that Sales Associates who work out of non-retail locations may not have. 


What are the daily duties of a Retail Sales Associate?

In the course of a day, Retail Sales Associates can expect to perform a number of different tasks. Usually, Retail Sales Associates arrive to their place of business before the store opens for customers. They’ll ensure the store is stocked and ready for customers before unlocking the doors. When customers arrive, the primary responsibility of a Retail Sales Associate is to help customers find the merchandise they need and answer any questions they might have. They may also assist at the cash registers and help with stocking shelves as needed. 


What should you look for in a Retail Sales Associate's resume?

When reviewing a resume for a potential Retail Sales Associate, you should look for certain skills and accomplishments, including:

  • Customer service: Retail Sales Associates perform customer service responsibilities when they help customers find the products and merchandise they need. Look for evidence of this on their resume. 
  • Sales: Helping customers make decisions and close sales is a key skill for a Retail Sales Associate. Ensure they have this capability. 
  • Knowledge: Ideally, a top Retail Sales Associate candidate will have experience and knowledge of the products in your industry. 
  • Quantification: The best resumes often have quantification, listing the specific number of units they sold or the amount of money they earned the company in revenue.

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