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7 Core Skills every Retail Assistant Needs

Kadence Edmonds
3 Jul 2020

In retail stores, there are a multitude of situations retail assistants are likely to face, and each requires a range of different skills. Employees will be required to handle multipurpose roles, and consistently perform under pressure while remaining dynamic and adaptable. Perhaps more than any other, soft skills - like patience, empathy, friendliness, and enthusiasm - are at a premium in the retail sector.

Although jobs in the retail sector don’t usually require a formal education, workers with a strong, tangible skill set are desired. So, if you’re looking for new staff in your retail store, or are personally looking for a job in retail, below are a few skills that you’ll need to check off your list.

Core skills for retail employees

The desire to help others

One of the most important traits to look for in a retail sales associate is a genuine interest in helping others. Since retail is an industry geared towards making customers' lives better and easier through product purchases, helping customers is a daily occurrence.

A retail employee will need to be able to demonstrate an interest in what customers are looking for, before working out a way to help make it happen.

Attention to detail

It’s all in the details, and retail workers, in particular, have to be able to recognize this. Whether it is ensuring correct change is given to a customer during a transaction, or that displays are arranged neatly and orderly, detail and care are at a premium in the retail industry.

Patience & Resilience

Patience and resilience go hand-in-hand, and are two skills that are essential for retail workers.

The honest truth is that you will have to work with customers who may test the limits of your patience. For example, some customers like to shop fast while some like to move at a slower pace, so having the patience to work with a range of different customer preferences really matters.

Workers will also be confronted by customers who could prove difficult to deal with. Handling complaints, returns, and complex queries are part-and-parcel of the job, meaning resilience is absolutely vital.

The ability to learn on their feet

Making sure a retail assistant can learn on their feet is crucial. From that very first day in the store, there will be an abundance of information to learn: how to run a sale, memorize the stock range, how to fold clothes correctly, how to use the register. And the list certainly doesn’t end there.

Updates to inventory will see new products with which you’ll need to familiarise yourself. Sales and displays are constantly evolving, and an employee will need to adjust to those shifts.

Technology in a retail store is a growing factor, and making sure your staff are capable of using it seamlessly is crucial. One way to make this step less demanding is by making sure you have an easy-to-use Point of Sale system in your business. With the ability to be able to train your staff in less than 15 minutes, Epos Now’s easy to use interface makes it a great system to have in your retail store. Learn more here.

Communication Skills

Good communication skills are essential for almost every factor of a retail position. Employees need to be able to communicate effectively with customers, other employees, and buyers.

Situations like greeting customers, responding to queries, handling customer complaints, communicating about a product and taking orders are all daily occurrences in the retail industry. Making sure an employee has the communication skills necessary to effectively carry these tasks out is imperative.

Customer Service

Great retail workers know that communication is about more than just verbal exchanges. It’s also about creating an environment where customers feel valued, understood and appreciated. Ensuring an employee can identify and manage responses in various scenarios goes a long way to providing great customer service.

Selling Skills

The best retail associates are those who possess all the aforementioned skills along with the ability to really sell your items. Having someone skilled enough to know the power of persuasion, without overstepping the line, is extremely important. Retail workers have to have the ability to explain products clearly and then market them effectively to customers.

For more advice on how to run a thriving retail business, visit our resources page where you’ll find the latest industry news and a library of informative articles authored by retail experts.

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