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Sales Associate Duties

Aparna Iyer
Superior customer service is expected of a sales associate. Retaining customers is what the associate looks into. Besides, ringing up sales at registers, bagging merchandise, and participating in year-end inventory and cycle counts is also a part of their job.
The volume of sales generated by a store is directly proportional to the level of service that is provided to the customer. Good customer service should be the cornerstone for any business since the saying, "Customer is king," indeed, is true.

The Duties

Ideally, customers should be greeted on entering a store...so that they feel welcome to shop. Although, this doesn't seem like a tall order, many a time, businesses ignore this important aspect of customer service. In fact, extending a warm and sincere greeting is an important part of sales associate duties and responsibilities.
A cordial and heartfelt greeting can have a lasting impression on a customer, who may very well prefer shopping in a store on account of superior customer service.
A sales associate needs to be aware of the inventory that is available in the store. ... Unless one is aware of the available merchandise, one cannot hope to guide customers about the range of products available in the store.
Assisting in processing and replenishing merchandise and monitoring stock can, especially be useful in maintaining knowledge about the available inventory. Hence, this has been included as a part of the associate's job description. 
Associates also need to be comfortable with display maintenance and housekeeping. This is because these activities will acquaint them with the shop floor, thereby equipping them to aid the customer in locating merchandise.
Tagging the products ... that would be featuring at the aisle is a part of the sales associates' job. If during the course of time, the price of the product displayed in the store changes, re-tagging and updating the item to the current price is the duty of the associate.
Maintaining the arrangement of products on the display racks and shelves to facilitate convenience for the shopper is important for the product lanes to look inviting.
When there are promotional offers, ... and the order of the store layout needs change, the sales associate is actively involved during occasions like these.
For instance, if the store declares 30% off on shirts for men, the associate has to dress the mannequins, ready the display windows, pin posters and string a few boards declaring the sale. He will also be in charge of the store till the sale is deemed valid. Besides, retaining order in the store and maintaining overall presentation is also a part of the job.
Racks shouldn't be left empty; if they are, ... they must be replenished without delay. Customers look around the store, may pick something, and go in for a trial. He may take it, or leave it. If he rejects the shirt he had picked, it needs to be replaced and the rack must look organized again. This way the store looks welcoming, neat, and tidy.
A sales associate may be required to take charge and open the store. ... This means he needs to resume work before anybody else arrives at the store. Keeping the store customer-ready is what he ought to do.
However, this does not mean he may leave early for the day or complete his stipulated duty hours and head home. He may be required to stay back, check the accounts, and close the store. Thus, he may be the last one to leave the premise.
Inspecting the housecleaning department, or ... for that matter, helping them organize their duties and activities through the course of the day is part of their job.
Attending customer queries - in person or on phone with courtesy and due respect and making their shopping experience worthwhile - is a career element  sales associate must aim at achieving with every customer he communicates. On administrative front, the associate is responsible for scheduling meetings with other team members and assign shifts for the team.

The Skills

The earlier discussion makes it evident that sales associates have a number of responsibilities that need to be discharged to the best of their ability. The effective discharge of duties requires the associate to have superior communication skills.
Communication skills are necessary from the perspective of being able to interact with the customer and ensuring that the customer's requests are clearly relayed to the management. The associate also needs to be able to communicate well with other associates.
A sales associate needs to be skilled at operating equipment is necessary from the perspective of demonstrating the working of the equipment to the customer. An associate, who is skilled at handling various tasks and preparing the necessary documentation, is a definite asset to any company.
Basic idea regarding sales management, sales training, and employee training is also desirable, since these skills will come in handy once he/she advances in his/her line of work.
Though selling his product to the customer with alacrity and adroitness is part of his job profile, things do not end there. Well, it, only is an overture to a better and efficient provision of after-sale service.
If you act lackadaisical, when the customer needs assistance, his regard for your store and its staff would be dropped by the wayside. Your motto is to have the customer leave the store satisfied and reassured. The fact is all stores vie for customer loyalty, but few work toward it.
A majority of businesses seem to believe that the economic recession is over. Job prospects for sales associates are bound to assume importance, once the number of retail stores increase, and the economy is in full swing. A conscientious sales associate, eventually, can become a store manager, provided he/she is capable and has the perseverance to endeavor.