Sales Associate Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Sales associate greeting customers in the store. Perhaps a rack of clothing in the background as a silhouette to illustrate the environment.Text reads:

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Sales Associate, or Retail Sales Associate, is responsible for assisting customers throughout the buying process. Their duties include greeting customers when they enter the store, helping customers find specific products or showing them how to use them and ringing up customer purchases on the POS register.

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Sales Associate duties and responsibilities 

The primary duty of a Sales Associate is to promote a company’s products or services through excellent customer service. They welcome customers, guide them through the products, answer questions and make sure guests have a pleasant experience. Some common responsibilities of a Sales Associate include the following: 

  • Welcoming customers into the store
  • Staying knowledgeable about our range of beauty and skin products
  • Explaining to customers the best products for their needs
  • Recommending related products to increase customers’ options and enrich the shopping experience 
  • Explaining the benefits and functions of products, method of preparation and how to use them to achieve the best results
  • Accepting and processing orders, operate the POS register and resolve returns issues
  • Promoting special sales, offers and awareness of store loyalty program

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What does a Sales Associate do?

Sales Associates typically work for retail stores across a range of specialties, including clothing and accessories, technology, beauty, home decor or media and entertainment. They work closely with other Sales Associates to ensure that customers have a positive experience with their business. Their job is to assist customers in finding gifts and other items within their price range while also maintaining the sales goals of their employer. They may also be responsible for purchasing or wearing items sold in their store to be able to describe them to customers in an effective manner.

Sales Associate skills and qualifications

A successful Sales Associate candidate should have various prerequisite skills and qualifications needed for their duties in the store. They have to be strong in their customer service, sales and knowledge of the store’s products and services. Depending on the business, the ideal applicant may need a college degree, but most Sales Associate positions only require a high school diploma. Some common Sales Associate qualifications include the following:

  • High school diploma  or GED
  • In-depth knowledge of beauty and skin products 
  • Excellent sales and communication skills 
  • Working knowledge of POS payment systems 
  • Valid Class-A driver’s license

Sales Associate Salary Expectations 

A Sales Associate makes an average of $11.30 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Sales Associate education and training requirements

Most Sales Associates need a GED certificate or high school diploma to get hired, but some positions may require a college degree. Candidates with work experience are ideal, but expect to provide extensive on-the-job training. This will allow them to have an in-depth understanding of your products or services, company policies and operational procedures. If the role requires special handling, be sure to provide proper training or list it as a requirement in the job description. 

Sales Associates require no certifications or licenses except in a few specialized roles. A great candidate will be an excellent communicator and have exceptional customer service and interpersonal skills. They will also have outstanding sales knowledge, manage their time well and deal with customers professionally.

Sales Associate experience requirements 

An experienced Sales Associate should be comfortable interacting with customers and spending long periods walking around the store to answer questions about products or services. They will also understand how to operate point of sale systems and have a working knowledge of bookkeeping to balance registers after their shift. A good candidate is knowledgeable about inventory management and has enough experience to promote your business with confidence. 

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Frequently asked questions about Sales Associates


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

Both Sales Associates and Cashiers work at retail stores to provide assistance to customers, but they do so in different ways. For example, Sales Associates have a less stationary role than Cashiers because they have the responsibility to engage with customers, redesign displays and show customers how to use or style their products. Sales Associates may also help ring up customers in the absence of a Cashier role. 

In contrast, Cashiers situate themselves behind the counter in a retail store. Their job is solely to help customers check out and process customer payments. They also count the drawer at the beginning and end of their shifts and process returns. Further, Sales Associates may receive commissions for the sales they make, whereas Cashiers typically receive hourly pay.


What are the daily duties of a Sales Associate?

On a typical day, a Sales Associate starts by restocking displays and ensuring the store’s cleanliness. Throughout their shift, they greet customers, answer their questions and provide demonstrations about how to use a particular product. During downtime, they clean surfaces, restock shelves, take inventory and rework displays. Those working in small shops receive product shipments and work with other staff to unpack and store new products. After closing, Sales Associates walk around the store restocking items and performing cleaning tasks.


What qualities make a good Sales Associate?

A good Sales Associate is someone who has a personable nature. This quality allows them to connect with customers and make them feel comfortable. They enjoy working as part of a team and assist their team members in miscellaneous tasks. Further, a good Sales Associate has a commitment to learning about the products they sell so they can provide customers with accurate, persuasive information. A good Sales Associate also has good social queues and adjusts their communication techniques to enhance their customers’ experiences in their store.


Who does a Sales Associate report to?

Sales Associates typically report directly to the Senior Sales Associate to ask questions and receive tasks during their shift. In lieu of a Senior Sales Associate, they report to the Sales Manager or Assistant Store Manager. For Sales Associates working at small businesses, they may report directly to the Business Owner.

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    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021