Essential Retail Skills (With Steps To Improve Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Retailing refers to selling various goods and services to targeted customers, and retailers often work with customers to complete their tasks inside and outside the store. Retailers engage in the retail process across industries, but they require a specific skill set and persuasive abilities to help perform their duties effectively. If you want to become a retail manager or a retailer, learning about the essential skills that support these professionals' daily work activities can help you enhance your abilities. In this article, we discuss essential retail skills, along with their importance and steps you can take to improve your skill set.

Why are retail skills necessary?

Having the right retail skills is necessary because it can help employees in the retail industry perform their daily duties of purchasing and selling goods effectively. When you apply for a retailer's position, your employer may prefer candidates with adequate retail experience, exposure, knowledge and skills to contribute to the job role. These skills also enable retailers to change and adjust their selling strategies as per the customers' needs and strengthen their understanding of consumer psychology. When you have a thorough understanding and experience of these essential skills, you can enhance your competence and increase your practical knowledge.

Read More: What Does A Retail Salesperson Do? (Duties And Career Path)

Essential retail skills for professionals

Here is a list of essential skills for retail professionals:

Customer service

Having suitable customer service skills can help enhance customers' and retailers' overall selling and purchasing experience. When retailers work with the right customer service skills, it also boosts the effectiveness of communication and other exchanges within the retail ecosystem. Professionals with strong customer service skills often improve their transferable and interpersonal skills. Customer service abilities also helps these employees work with politeness, friendliness and helpfulness. This skill also allows them to suggest suitable products and services to their customers while assisting them with their daily purchasing needs, exchanges, refunds or repairs.

Read More: What Is Customer Service? Definition And Career Advice

Communication

Communication is often an essential aspect of most retailers' jobs and helps them efficiently deliver their services to customers. When retailers have excellent communication skills, they can better cater to their customers' needs and resolve their purchasing issues effectively. Excellent communication skills also enable these professionals to communicate their ideas clearly and ensure that all relevant parties understand what they are trying to convey. This skill can also help them suggest innovative selling strategies that can help enhance the impact of their organisation's marketing and sales initiatives. Effective communication also entails active listening skills and boosts their engagement with customers.

Read More: Verbal Communication Examples In The Workplace (With Tips)

Confidence

Confidence is an essential skill for retailers as their job requires them to perform several tasks using point of sale or POS technologies to ensure the customer purchase process runs smoothly. The confidence to execute retail functions using POS technologies is beneficial to successfully processing customer payments and other financial transactions.

Retailers can conduct POS operations online or offline, depending on the specific industry type. The retailers can use this skill to enhance the overall customer experience and satisfaction with their company's offerings. Proficiency with common POS technologies like cash registers and barcode scanners can boost their confidence and enhance their performance.

Business knowledge

A retailer works across industries with businesses that want to make more sales with their products or services. Having good business knowledge allows these professionals to proactively engage and understand a company's culture, business values, practices and product or services to perform their job effectively. When they have accurate business knowledge, retail professionals are more equipped and aware of answering questions a customer may have regarding their company's offerings.

Business knowledge also enables them to understand the background practices and merchandise control procedures to help sustain and grow their business. This skill also helps them identify areas for business improvement.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is an essential skill for retailers as they often face unexpected situations with their customers regarding product stocking, merchandising, shipping or delivery services. Knowing how to handle challenging situations without letting them affect the trust of their customers is an essential retailers' skill. Excellent problem-solving skills allow these professionals to suggest actionable solutions to any issues the business may face and tackle unexpected situations with professionalism. This skill also ensures that they prioritise customers' needs and deliver a fulfilling and helpful experience. Good problem-solving skills help retailers perform their duties with due diligence.

Read More: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Time management

Good time management skills help retail professionals ensure they can efficiently perform their customer management duties on time while executing time-sensitive retail tasks. These professionals often complete various tasks, so good time management skills can help them perform their duties efficiently. Their daily activities may include sorting stock, assembling displays, cleaning stores, maintaining cash registers and resolving customer queries. When retailers have strong time management skills, they can prioritise their work better and ensure that they meet the company's standards in delivering products and services. Excellent time management skills also enhance their productivity.

Organisational skills

Retailers' jobs often require them to stay organised and follow a structured approach to deliver excellent customer service and perform their retail duties flawlessly. Good organisational skills help these professionals to manage their projects and daily tasks effectively while allowing them to enhance their overall productivity at work. This skill also helps them meet deadlines and boosts their prioritisation skills. Organised retailers are professionals who can think clearly regarding their duties, suggest actionable advice when their customers face an issue and tidy their items and tasks to make space for essential projects.

Punctuality

Good retailers are often punctual professionals who can perform their daily duties on time and show up to work every day. It helps boost their professional competence and credibility in their domain. Punctuality positions them as reliable retailers who know how to do their job better and engage with customers while boosting their time and project management skills. When retailers are punctual, they can better organise and manage their daily tasks such as purchasing and selling goods, maintaining financial records and managing relationships with customers. This skill also helps them meet their individual, mentor and customers' needs and expectations.

Teamwork

Retailers collaborate with other skilled professionals who assist them in a store's management and enhance a customer's overall buying process. Having excellent teamwork skills also enables them to work in alliance with their colleagues to help achieve organisational objectives. These professionals work with various teams and team leads to provide a holistic shopping experience for customers. Retailers often liaise with manufacturers and other relevant stakeholders to complete tasks that support their organisation's business development. Good teamwork skills also allow them to receive and provide honest feedback to and from their colleagues.

How to improve your retail skills

Here is a list of steps you can take to improve your skills:

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

The first step you can take to improve your skills is identifying your strengths and weaknesses and working on them to improve your knowledge and retail expertise. Consider preparing a list of areas where you are already proficient and areas you would like to improve in your job. Once you have a list, identify the tasks and steps you can take every day to build upon your skills. For example, you can consider enrolling in a customer service management course to boost your customer engagement, management and communication skills.

2. Learn by emulating the skills of coworkers

Another essential step you can take to upskill yourself as a retailer and boost your learning process is by emulating the skills of your coworkers. If it is a skill you want to master and one of your coworkers or mentors performs better in that domain, then following them and their work ethics can help you identify methods to improve yourself. You can begin emulating your colleagues by observing how they interact with stakeholders and customers and learning from their techniques to re-skill yourself. You can discover successful ways of boosting the business outcome as a retailer.

3. Ask for feedback from your team

Asking for feedback or constructive criticism from your team members or mentors is a helpful practice to help advance your experiential learning as a retailer. The knowledge and insights you can gain from honest feedback can help you develop your skill set and improve your professionalism at your job. Often, your manager may evaluate your overall work performance. If there is no systemic way of getting feedback directly from your manager, consider getting proactive and asking them for their input on your performance.

4. Advance your learning

Advancing your learning process can be helpful for your overall professional development. There are many ways you can improve yourself at your job, whether it is through online courses, reading books or networking with seasoned professionals. Determine what strategy works best for you and devote your time to upskilling and improving your work practices to become a better retailer.

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