Career Development

What Does a Retail Associate Do?

Find out what a retail associate does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a retail associate.

Retail associates are the face of many retail stores. They interact with customers on a daily basis and play an important role in building relationships with them. Retail associates help customers find what they’re looking for, answer their questions about products or services, and assist with any other needs they may have while shopping at the store.

Retail Associate Job Duties

A retail associate typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Maintaining security of the store by monitoring the store’s cameras and recording devices
  • Providing excellent customer service to customers by answering questions about products, helping them find what they need, and recommending items based on their needs
  • Assisting customers with purchases by retrieving items from shelves or inventory bins for customers who cannot reach items themselves
  • Performing cashier duties such as scanning items and accepting payment from customers
  • Promoting products through in-store demonstrations, displays, and presentations
  • Performing clerical tasks such as maintaining inventory records and filing sales reports and paperwork with government agencies
  • Selling various types of products such as electronics, home decor, furniture, or apparel
  • Explaining store policies and procedures to customers to ensure a safe and secure shopping environment for all patrons
  • Performing tasks such as stocking shelves with merchandise, cleaning store displays, and arranging merchandise in aisles or end caps

Retail Associate Salary & Outlook

Retail associate salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $39,500 ($18.99/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $60,500 ($29.09/hour)

The employment of retail sales workers is expected to decline over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited by the increasing automation of retail establishments. Self-service checkout systems and electronic price tags allow retailers to reduce the number of cashiers they employ. In addition, online shopping has reduced the need for some traditional retail workers, such as salespeople in clothing stores.

Retail Associate Job Requirements

A retail associate may be required to possess the following:

Education: Retail associates are typically required to have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers may hire candidates without a high school diploma if they have extensive experience in retail or another related field.

Training & Experience: Retail associates typically receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or managers. This training may include how to use the point-of-sale system, how to interact with customers and how to clean and organize the store. Training may also include how to interact with fellow retail associates and how to handle customer complaints.

Retail associates who work in grocery stores may also receive training on how to handle and organize fresh produce.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not generally required for this role. However, certification can give you a competitive edge over other candidates and demonstrate your abilities and aspirations to potential employers.

Retail Associate Skills

Retail associates need the following skills in order to be successful:

Customer service: Customer service is a necessary skill for retail associates. You should be able to answer customer questions, help them find the products they need and provide them with a positive experience. You should also be able to handle any customer complaints professionally.

Product knowledge: Retail associates should have a thorough understanding of the products they sell. This can help you answer questions from customers and help you make recommendations. You can gain product knowledge by reading product descriptions, researching products online and asking your manager for training.

Communication: Communication skills are important in retail because they allow you to interact with customers and coworkers. You should be able to explain product details, answer questions and provide information about promotions and sales. You should also be able to communicate with your manager and other employees to receive training, complete tasks and resolve issues.

Teamwork: Teamwork is a valuable skill for retail associates to have because it allows them to work with other employees to ensure the store runs smoothly. You can apply teamwork in your daily tasks by communicating with your coworkers and helping them complete tasks they may struggle with.

Organization: Organization is a necessary skill for retail associates. You should be able to keep track of multiple tasks and shifts, as well as the locations of multiple products and cash registers. Organization can help you complete your tasks on time and keep your store running smoothly.

Retail Associate Work Environment

Retail associates typically work in retail stores, such as department stores, grocery stores, and specialty stores. They may also work in warehouses or distribution centers. They typically work full time, and their work hours may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Some retail associates may work part time. Retail associates typically stand for long periods of time and may do a lot of walking and lifting. They may also be required to work in a fast-paced environment and to meet deadlines.

Retail Associate Trends

Here are three trends influencing how retail associates work. Retail associates will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of the Digital Shopper

The rise of the digital shopper is a trend that is quickly changing the retail landscape. As more and more people shop online, retailers are having to adapt their strategies to meet the needs of these shoppers.

This means that retail associates need to be familiar with the latest trends in online shopping, such as mobile commerce and social media marketing. They also need to be able to provide excellent customer service through channels such as chatbots and email.

More Focus on Customer Experience

As customers become more demanding, businesses are focusing more on providing a great customer experience. This means that retail associates will need to be well-versed in customer service skills, such as communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution.

In addition, retail associates will need to be knowledgeable about the products they are selling. This includes not only knowing the features and benefits of the products, but also how to set up and demo them for customers.

Greater Use of Technology

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the retail industry. This is evident in the increasing use of technology in stores, such as self-checkout lanes and electronic shelf labels.

As technology becomes more prevalent, retail associates will need to learn how to use it effectively in order to help customers find what they are looking for and make shopping easier. In addition, they will need to be able to troubleshoot any problems that may arise with the technology in the store.

How to Become a Retail Associate

A career in retail can be a great way to get your foot in the door of the business world. It offers opportunities for growth, learning, and personal development. As you progress in your career, you may want to consider specializing in a particular area, such as fashion or cosmetics. You could also move into management or supervisory roles.

No matter what stage you’re at in your career, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in your industry. Read industry publications and attend relevant conferences and workshops. Network with other professionals in your field, and keep track of new products and services that could benefit your customers.

Related: How to Write a Retail Associate Resume

Advancement Prospects

Retail associates can advance to become first-line supervisors of other retail sales workers. Some may move into buying or merchandising positions, or become wholesale or manufacturing sales representatives. Some sales workers may open their own retail establishments.

Many opportunities for advancement exist for retail sales workers. Some may move into management, buying, or merchandising positions. Others may open their own retail establishments. Many sales workers receive on-the-job training that leads to certification in their chosen field, such as jewelry appraising or interior design.

Retail Associate Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide our customers with an exceptional shopping experience by offering high-quality products and outstanding customer service. We are looking for a Retail Associate to join our team and help us deliver on this promise. The ideal candidate will have prior experience working in retail, excellent customer service skills, and a strong work ethic. He or she will be responsible for greeting and assisting customers, maintaining the sales floor, and providing general support to the Retail team. The Retail Associate will be a key contributor to creating a positive and enjoyable shopping experience for our customers.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Greet and assist customers in a friendly and professional manner
  • Maintain knowledge of current sales and promotions, policies regarding payment and exchanges, and security practices
  • Operate cash register and POS system, process various forms of payment, and handle returns and exchanges
  • Keep the sales floor clean and organized, and maintain fitting rooms and restrooms
  • Stock shelves and racks with new merchandise, and set up displays
  • Assist with store opening and closing procedures
  • Help train new employees as needed
  • Handle customer complaints or concerns in a tactful and professional manner
  • Monitor inventory levels and report discrepancies to supervisor
  • Participate in physical inventories
  • Adhere to all company safety and security policies and procedures
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven customer service experience in a retail setting
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time and lift up to 50 pounds
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills
  • Basic math skills and cash-handling experience
  • Flexible availability to work nights, weekends, and holidays

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher
  • 1-2 years experience in a supervisory or management role
  • Experience with point-of-sale systems
  • Bilingual abilities
  • Strong fashion sense and ability to give style recommendations

Similar Jobs


What Does a Maintenance Worker Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a Draftsman Do?