What You Need to Know to Succeed in the Retail Industry

Written by Peter Jones

Retail can be an excellent job for anyone—especially college-aged or retired people who need or want the flexibility and human interaction. It used to be fairly easy to just show up and get hired. Nowadays, it’s becoming a competitive field in its own right.

Here are a few things to know to succeed in landing yourself a retail career.

1. Performance Matters

You’re not simply there to help customers when they need it. You’re also there to perform well across a variety of metrics. Make sure you know what these are for your job and that you are meeting them. Otherwise, you will be let go.

2. Customers are the Reason You Have a Job

Everyone you speak to is your customer. And you should treat them with respect—each one is precious to your company, which can’t afford to lose any customers at all. If you get a totally unreasonable person, get management involved instead of getting snippy.

3. Don’t Complain

Neither customers nor bosses (nor coworkers, for that matter) appreciate a Negative Nelly. Don’t gossip, don’t complain, don’t gripe about your hours. And never bad-mouth your company in anybody’s earshot. Be a positive force and get respect.

4. Be Flexible

Being a team player is important. Be willing to help your teammates get their work done, and to swap shifts with a desperate coworker in occasion.

5. Respect the Rules

Try not to cut corners. Respect your company’s policies. Don’t try to make new rules for yourself. Stick to what you’re told and be trusted to follow it to the letter.

6. Take Initiative

Self-motivation is important, as is the ability to take delegated tasks and do them without issue, promptly, and well. If you go above and beyond, as a rule, everyone will notice. And you’ll likely get ahead.

7. Be Professional

Retail may seem like a more casual industry than others, but professionalism is no less important. Follow standard business etiquette at all times. Be courteous and polite and make a good first impression at every turn.

8. Keep in Mind: There is a Future

Retail may just seem like a stop-gap job, but there are ample opportunities for growth if you keep your eyes open and continue striving.

9. The Hours Can be Tough

Keep in mind you’ll be working a lot of evenings and weekends. These are very busy times for most retailers and you’ll likely have to work some of these times. Some work environments will be slow, others will be rapid-paced and rapid-fire. Make sure you know which you’re most suited for before accepting any jobs.

10. Confidence is Key

You might not realize how important it is to engage with every customer, but it is crucial. Patience, empathy, respect, and positivity are also important. Greet every customer afresh, with a smile and a willingness to help, and you’ll do fine.

About the author

Peter Jones