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Retail Sales Associate Job Description

Aparna Iyer
The bracketed job description of a retail sales associate demands a flair for marketing and selling products without coming across as an aggressive salesperson. However, the work profile stretches beyond this definition.
With most retail stores closing down, retail sales associates are finding themselves in the unenviable position of looking for alternative employment. In the present market, pursuing a career as a retail sales associate, doesn't seem like a feasible option. However, on a positive the slump in the retail market will not continue indefinitely.
The retail industry in the U.S. is said to have been gravely affected by adverse market conditions; however, it is said to gather momentum, and job opportunities for retail sales associate, definitely, would be on their way to improvement.
With regard to what a retail sales associate job profile involves; they are representatives who are expected to generate sales by providing outstanding customer service, where customers are welcomed to shop at the store.

Job Minutiae of a Retail Sales Associate

Retail sales associates, employed by small specialty stores and large departmental stores, are expected to provide courteous and quality service to the customers.
A sales associate should be able to connect well with people. Specific education, as such, is not required in order to perform this job. However, a brief exposure to conduct sales and services is a definite add-on. Nevertheless, periodic training may be provided in order to help the associate bag the necessary skills and successively excel at work.
  • Greeting the customer, attending to his needs, and building a loyal customer base are some of the duties of a sales associate. Patience is a prerequisite, and to make it to the top, you sure need it in ample measure. Why? Well, in a job that is meant 'for the people', you would have to deal with a few customers having an unpleasant disposition.
  • However, handling their throes with a pleasant demeanor is expected of you. On the other hand, you may also find yourself interacting with customers who are gentle and considerate. Thus, a congenial personality brimming with positivity is a plus.
  • The most successful sales associates are those who know how to portray their product. The job is to impress and not impose the product on the customer. Being a retail sales associate, you ought to know the inside out of your sell. Your job involves a fair share of talking. You are the virtual spokesperson for the product at hand.
  • The sales associate has to be aware of any promotional offers and encourage the customer to avail discounts on the products promoted by the store. They have to be aware of the merchandise in the shop and arrange for stuff not available in the store.
  • Working under pressure, especially when sales are expected to peak, is part of the job. The nature of the job depends on the kind of store that employs the retail sales associate. For instance, a sales associate working in the cosmetics department of a store has to assist the buyer by providing tips on the kind of cosmetics that would be most suitable.
  • An associate who works in a store selling women's clothing should have a flair for picking out clothes besides being aware of changing trends and fashion.
  • A person working as a retail sales associate in a car dealership should be comfortable with cars and should provide the necessary technical details about the working of the car to interested customers. 
  • Besides, a sales associate job demands long working hours. It also means dedicating your weekends on the job. Approaching, and ongoing holiday seasons demand your presence, this being a peak period for most retail outlets.
  • Assisting customers to find what they are looking for, requires you to be up and about, and to be efficient in this sphere, you need to be comfortable in your shoes. Besides, if your customer is looking for a garden equipment, such as a dethatching rake, you are required to stay outdoors and demonstrate its working and the technical details involved.
  • In addition to assisting customers and generating sales, the job profile of a retail sales associate includes making sales checks; receiving cash, checks, debit, and credit card payments; bagging purchases and giving receipts. They may be required to open and close cash registers and may be held responsible for the contents of their register.

Advancements and Career Prospects

Advancements depend on the ability of sales associate to market products. A good sales associate can become a retail store manager if employed in a large retail store. The larger the store, the better the prospects. Some retail stores hire college graduates as management trainees. Even if a college degree is not mandatory, it opens up many new opportunities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for retail sales associates is expected to increase by 2% in the coming years. This is because retail associates are needed to service the growing population.
Since the employee turnover is very high in case of the retail industry, one can safely assume that as long as people decide to shop, the demand for retail sales associates will continue to climb the ladder.