Retail Worker: Job Profile and Role

Do you love working and communicating with people? Are you also interested in retail and selling products to people? In this case, we may have a job that could be the perfect fit for you: the job of a retail worker.

In this blog, you will find out if your future career is, indeed, in retail. You will get a first inkling about the annual salaries you can expect and who will likely pay them. Naturally, we will also tell you what it takes to become a retail worker when it comes to both hard and soft skills. With our insights into a day in the life of a retail worker, you can see which tasks will await you. And to further your career prospects, you will get three important tips for thriving as a retail worker.

Short Summary

  • As a retail worker, you are responsible for assisting customers with their queries, for example, by providing information about the merchandise your company is selling.
  • As a retail worker, you are asked to keep track of the inventory. This includes ensuring that the goods for sale are sufficiently stocked in the store/the shelves.
  • As a retail worker, you are responsible for handling returns, all the time ensuring that you adhere to your store’s return policies and enable customer satisfaction.

Job description

Being a retail worker involves several varied daily tasks. If you work on a shop floor, you are in charge of selling merchandise, handling payments, and advising customers on the goods you have on display. You may also be asked to keep track of the inventory and restock merchandise if and when needed. Also, you are likely tasked with handling returns and exchanges. Here, you need to keep in mind that you must adhere to the store’s return policies, while at the same time ensuring your customers’ satisfaction.


  • Sales
  • Teamwork
  • Answer Queries
  • Customer Service
  • Stock Management
  • Handling Complaints
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Security/Loss Prevention
  • Cleaning and Maintenance
  • Processing Customer Payments
  • Restoration/Conservation Advice

Different types of Retail Workers

  • Stockroom Assistant
  • Shop Floor Assistant
  • Product Demonstrator
  • Online Retail Associate
  • Fitting Room Attendant


As a full-time retail worker in the UK, you can expect to earn between £15,000 and £21,000 per year. Typically, work experience increases your annual wages. Other factors that can decide what you earn each year tend to be the size of the company you are working for and its location.

Working hours

If you have a full-time contract, your weekly working hours will likely amount to 35 to 40 hours. Note that you will work shifts, meaning that your starts can vary from early morning to late afternoon. The latter also means that you will work in the evenings till closing time. Keep in mind that weekend work is also a likely possibility – and it may not be restricted to just working Saturdays. Also, peak times – that is, the holiday season – can increase your weekly working hours.


You can find employment in pretty much any sector that sells merchandise, be it groceries, clothes, luxury items, or beauty products. Your future employer can either be found in small and independent stores or with big and popular chains, such as Sainsbury’s, H&M, Tesco, or Marks & Spencer, to name but a few of the big names in UK retail.


Generally, you do not need specific qualifications to work in retail. Depending on your employer, you may be required to have some GCSEs at certain pass grades, for example, 9 to 3 (A* to D). Besides, you should be familiar with retail software and Point of Sale systems (POS), such as Shopify, Retail Pro, Lightspeed Retail, and Vend, to name but a few.

The job as a retail worker could be suitable for you if you have one or more of the following qualifications:


Being good with people is one of the most important skills you need when you want to work in retail. What this competency includes is one of the things we will explore in this section. Before we look at two other skills that will come in handy in retail, we want to give you some important advice: you always need to check the required skills in the job posts. Even though the skills we will look at in a sec are typical requirements, your future employer may value other or further competencies.

Is the retail worker job a good fit for you? Typically, a retail worker should have or develop the following skills:

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills – or “being good with people” – are vital if you want to work in retail and keep your job. This may sound blunt, but that is the way it is. Your company will not sell a single product if you are rude, obnoxious, or oblivious to your customers’ needs and expectations. Therefore, you should have a general idea of this competency when you apply for a retail job. Also, you should have strong communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal.

Sunny Personality

A sunny personality is another quality you should have when you want to work in retail. Granted, being in a good mood daily is something hardly anyone ever achieves. But having a positive outlook on life will help to get through working days in which all you want to do is throw the merchandise at a wall or out of the shop windows. Moreover, a sunny disposition will make your customers feel welcome and looked after. Because let’s face it – when have you ever felt compelled to enter a store where the staff greeted you with faces like thunder?!

Sales Skills

Your interpersonal skills and your sunny personality will also help you with the last competency a retail worker should have: sales skills. As a retail worker, you should be able to sell every piece of merchandise, especially to those customers who were very certain that they did not need it in the first place. Okay, this may sound a bit OTT, but we are sure you get the gist. Having excellent sales skills will not only help you to perform an excellent job. It will also help your career prospects since no employer will let you go if you are the main reason for sales going through the shop roof.

Career Path

Your career starting point in retail is your first job on the shop floor. What direction your career takes after this job is entirely up to you. Maybe you are happy to stay in this job since you value daily and direct contact with your customers. Maybe you want to progress and take on more senior and managerial roles. In this case, you could be interested in the job of a retail manager which will mean investing time into further training.

Educational Background

Since you can apply directly to a job in retail, you are not required to have finished a certain education. However, completing a college course or an apprenticeship can both impress your employers and give you an advantage over the other applicants. Appropriate apprenticeships and college courses can be a retail manager higher apprenticeship (if you want to advance to the position of a retail manager) or a Level 3 Diploma in Retail Skills.

Entry Level

Your first job as a retail worker is also your entry-level position. Since only you can decide where your career goes from this job, it is also up to you how long you want to work in this position (this, and your overall job performance which will also decide if you stay in this entry-level employment). Whatever your ambitions, it is this first job in which you learn the ropes of retail work. Typically, your more senior colleagues will help you navigate the retail waters by giving you tips and a hand if and when needed.

Continuous Learning

Whether you want to advance or not – you should always invest time into improving your qualifications and skills. In retail, you have several options for further training and qualifications. How about looking into industry-specific training? This, you can enquire about with the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Besides, you can look into online courses where you can gain software certifications. Some options can be the NCR Retail Certification, the Epos Now Certification, and the Square POS Certification.

Further Tips for Continuous Learning as a Retail Worker

Let’s say you really want to end up working in retail management. In this case, you should look into higher apprenticeships or an undergraduate/postgraduate degree related to retail. Appropriate university degrees can be a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in business, fashion buying and marketing, and/or retail business management.

A Day in the Life of a Retail Worker

Dealing with customer enquiries and handling payments are two of your daily jobs in retail. These are by far the only things you will be asked to do. Therefore, in this section, we will look at three more daily tasks you will perform when working in retail.

Store Opening/Closing

Depending on your shift, you may be the person who opens the story for business. This usually includes switching on the lights, ensuring that the shop floor, changing rooms (if applicable), and the shelves are clean and that the till is all set up for the day ahead. If you close the store, you will do some of the things we have just mentioned in reverse. You will switch off the lights and ensure that the day’s cash balance has been done. Also, you ensure that you leave the store in an orderly fashion.


There may be days when your merchandise just flies off the shelves, meaning that you will have to restock as soon as you have sold something. Restocking, therefore, is another one of your daily tasks when working in retail. Combined with that, you need to update your store’s inventory since whatever you have restocked also will need to be reordered.

Handling Returns/Exchanges

This task will be a regular occurrence when you work in fashion retail. Most shops have a so-called “lemon law” when it comes to buying and returning merchandise, resulting in people making a purchase, trying it on at home, and then noticing that it is not the right fit. When dealing with returns and exchanges, you need to know your way around your store’s return and exchange policies. Naturally, you also need to apply them to the items brought back to your store. At the same time, you need to ensure that your customers leave the store happy (no mean feat sometimes, we know!).

Tips for Thriving as a Retail Worker

Ambitious or not – when you work in retail, you should never shy away from opportunities that help you thrive. To make life easier for you, we have researched three valuable tips that will help you achieve whatever career ambitions you may have. So, without much further ado, here are some surefire ways to excel when working in retail:

  • Product knowledge
  • Customer feedback
  • Stand your ground

Product Knowledge

If you want to work in retail, you should know the products you are selling inside out. There simply is no better way to ensure that everyone is happy – from your customers to your colleagues and superiors. Even you will be a lot happier when you know all there is to know about your store’s merchandise. Why? Because you have the answer to every question, thus, reducing your stress levels and being faced with unhappy customers and irritated colleagues. 

Customer Feedback

Listening to your customers’ feedback is another way to thrive in retail. This includes both positive and negative comments which will help you improve workflows, product displays, and inventory. Always remember to check all available feedback channels, including online reviews and social media. Here, you will gain insights that are worth a million pounds – and that can make or break both your store and your career in retail.

Stand your Ground

Even though we have stressed a few times that customer happiness and satisfaction are imperative, we will partly negate this statement with our third tip for thriving: stand your ground. Yes, the customer is king – or so the saying wants us to believe. However, this saying also has its limitations. If a customer is unreasonable or downright rude, you must stand your ground. Do it not, and this person will set a possible precedent for other customers who think they can get away with everything. We also recommend that you discuss your handling of these situations with your management. This way, you are definitely on the safe side with this important tip.

Other jobs that are similar and might also interest you:

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a retail worker earn?

If the job of a retail worker is the job for you, you should keep in mind that your annual salary will likely come in at around £15,000 to £21,000. Various factors can affect your annual wages, such as the company size you are working for and the location of your employment.

What qualifications do I need to become a retail worker?

To work in retail, you usually do not need specific qualifications. However, some employers may require GCSEs at certain pass grades, for example, 9 to 3 (A* to D). Depending on your career ambitions in retail, you may want to look into appropriate university/college courses or apprenticeships. Besides, you should be familiar with retail software and Point of Sale systems (POS), such as Vend, Shopify, Lightspeed Retail, and Retail Pro.

What is the job of a retail worker?

Your retail worker job involves various daily tasks, starting with selling merchandise, handling payments, and advising customers on the merchandise you have on display. You are also in charge of inventory management, meaning that you need to keep track of displaying and restocking your store’s goods. As a retail worker, you will also have to deal with returns and exchanges which may prove to be one of the more challenging parts of your job. Here, you must adhere to the store’s return policies, while at the same time ensuring that your customers leave your store satisfied and happy.