Do you know what skills retail employers look for? If not, then read on to know the most important seven retail skills and how to develop them.
Retail is a flourishing and one of the highest paying industries. In order to seek a career in retail, it is imperative to know the skills required and how to acquire them to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors.
There can be different roles in the industry that demand specific set of competitive skills. For instance, a visual merchandiser needs to have a keen eye for 3-D design and flair to convert these design concepts into display products for customers. On the other hand, a store manager should typically be an all-rounder, including team leader, target achiever, innovative, sales person, pleasant, and confident. Most of these skills can be developed on the job, while there are a few skills that one must already develop during the work placement.
Job description and Work Activities
Understanding the kind of work involved in retail industry helps you to get an idea about the type of skills required to match with the work requirement. Working in a retail industry as a retail manager involves a wide range of activities. However, the main task of a retail manager is to minimize cost and maximize profits. Depending on the company structure, job role and the size of the retail store, the professionals in the field need to be involved in several work related activities. Some of them include:
- Managing stock level
- Motivating team members
- Analyze and forecast sales figure
- Customer service and quality assurance
- Responding to customer queries and complaints
- Analyzing market trends
- Initiating changes
- Monitoring competitors
- Arranging promotional events
Now, once you have an idea about the kind of work involved, discussing about the skills required and how to acquire them is easier.
Tips to Develop Retail Skills
When you find a lucrative job opportunity in retail industry, there is a set of four competencies that a person seeking a career in retail must know. These include:
- Relationship Management
- Business Focus
- Critical Thinking, and
- Personal Effectiveness
These key competencies revolve around the idea that retailing is all about being customer focused, and not product focused. A range of skills are required to develop these four competencies.
Let’s take a look at the seven skills and tips to develop them:
1) Interpersonal and Communication Skills
A career in retail management demands excellent communication as well as interpersonal skills, which are required while dealing with people. Being a customer centric industry, a retailer needs to interact with customers on daily basis, which requires excellent PR and communication skills. Strong interpersonal skills create an interactive environment for employees and customers. Building such skills require understanding relationships, customer’s needs, practicing empathy and communicating clearly.
2) Understanding Responsibilities
Being a reliable, trustworthy, dependable and responsible employee is the demand of retail industry. To understand your responsibilities, you need to work upon self-management, which involves being flexible, adaptable and punctual. These skills can be developed when practiced in your daily work.
3) Commercial Awareness
In retail management, commercial awareness is crucial. It involves understanding of your business and customer demands. As an employee, you need to understand situations from commercial perspectives to take right decisions for your business. These skills can be developed with work experience, and regular visit to sites sharing the industry specific knowledge.
4) Cultural Awareness
When you work with and for people belonging to a wide range of cultural backgrounds in retail industry, cultural awareness serves as an added advantage for you. Many big multinational retail chains such as Wal Mart, McDonalds and Sears recruit employees who are efficient in building rapport with customers and employees across the globe. The best way to develop such skills is learning more about different countries and cultures on the internet or books. Cultural awareness will help you in communicating with people, task completion and resolving work related conflicts.
5) Numeracy Skills
It is very important for retail workers to develop numeracy skills, which involves the understanding of sales trends and stock taking. This skill helps an employee to save time and develop negotiation skills.Once you acquire numeracy skill, analyzing and understanding data becomes much easier. All you need to develop this skill by brushing up basic arithmetic functions. After all, it is never too late to learn anything!
6) Customer Focus
Customer service is one of the most important skills required in retail industry. Customer focus skills include serving customers in polite manner, resolving queries and grievances, and being friendly and helpful to them. This skill can be easily developed once you start working.
7) Time Management
Being able to work and manage your work pressure is what time management is. In a retail job, it is one of the most important skills required to seek a successful career in retail and keep your customers happy!This skill is required not only to improve on customer service, but also in working as a team. To gauge your time management skills, find out the situations where you panicked due to a tight work schedule, kept your customers waiting for long, how your attitude was, and how efficiently you managed the situation. Being cognizant about these details will help you to work upon your time management skills.
Apart from the above mentioned seven skills, there are other important skills that demand your attention as employers look for them too. These include:
- Problem solving and analyses
- Initiative to find ways to improve on work and organizational effectiveness
- Effective negotiation skills
- Flexibility to adapt to different work situations
- An eye for every detail
- Leadership skills, and
- Strategic thinking to work in the direction of organization goal
These skills can be developed easily with work experience. However, pursuing a retail management course from a recognized institution can also educate you about the industry demands and develop the required skills.
So, are you ready to excel in your retail career by showing your employer that you possess the abilities, skills and the right attitude to become a retail employee?
Swati Srivastava is a dedicated blogger and writer with a rich experience of over four years in the writing field. Her articles and blogs on education and career related topics help the education seekers to find relevant information about hot topics like career in retail management, hotel management, management skills, and engineering courses.