It's not all smiles and staff discounts, you know?
Hunting for a casual job to make some extra cash? Fancy a role where you get a staff discount and meet new people? Working in retail could be the answer. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reports that there was recently a small boost in the number of retail jobs available here in the UK. That means that it could be the ideal time to get your CV spick and span and get applying.
Ahead of finding a job in a shop, though, there are some things that you should know. Retail roles are multifaceted and have a whole lot to offer when you find the right one. Let's take a look at nine small things that you should know before you start.
1. You may be judged on your performance
Performance is everything. When you're working in retail, one of your core tasks may be upselling. That may mean helping customers find extras to add to their basket or offering them a store card. Much like any other sales role, yours will likely come with a set of targets. To make sure that you excel in this position, you're going to need to be driven and hard-working.
Of course, different retail positions will have different goals. When you're interviewing for a new role, you should be able to gauge how important reaching these targets will be. You can ask your interviewer directly about this aspect of the job to determine whether it's for you. The more information you have ahead of signing on the dotted line, the better.
2. Customer satisfaction is everything
The customer is always right, or so the old saying goes. When you work in retail, this will become your mantra. Every time you meet and greet a new customer, you will have to make them your top priority. That means listening to their needs and doing everything you can to serve them. In some roles—such as technology-based retail positions—this may mean explaining complicated issues to them. In others, it may simply mean helping them when they need to return a faulty item of clothing.
3. You will have to get to know the shop
Do you know where the new season skirts are? How about the comfortable work shoes? When you're working in retail, you need to know the shop floor like the back of your hand. If you land a job in a shop, take the time to really get to know your surroundings. That means learning where different products are so you can point customers in the right direction. Chances are, the stock will move around from time to time. That means that you need to always have your finger on the pulse.
4. Wave goodbye to your weekends
Love Sunday brunch with the girls? Working in retail may not be for you. The fact is that this is shift work and (spoiler!) weekends are the busiest times. When Saturday comes around, it's all hands on decks. You may also find that it's tricky to get weekends off when you have special occasions—such as weddings or parties—to attend. For that reason, you need to consider whether working in retail is the right move for you. Your lifestyle will play a huge role in whether this job suits your needs.
5. Organising stock will be key
Whether it's folding clothes or stocking shelves, you will spend a huge amount of your time organising stock when you work in retail. Understanding the realities of the job ahead of time could make all the difference when you get through the door. While you may be on the checkout for some shifts, you may also spend hours on end dealing with this aspect of the role. Understanding that it's not all about smiling and getting staff discounts on your favourite clothes is a key factor before you start.
6. It's extremely physically demanding
Get your FitBit on, as you will be walking thousands and thousands of steps every single shift. So much of your work will involve walking around the shop or simply standing in one position. The truth of the matter is that retail roles are highly physically demanding. You may also find yourself lifting heavy boxes or moving large pieces of furniture. The sky's the limit. If you're not in tip-top shape when you start a role like this one, you likely will be by the end of it. Simple.
7. You will need to be a team player
Working as a team should come naturally to you in this role. You will need to work closely with your coworkers to get things done. If you get put on the same shifts with the same people again and again, you may find that you become close to them. Think of them as your little work family—always there when you need them the most. If you are the type of person who prefers flying solo, though, you may find that this position takes its toll on you. Figure out whether it will work for you first.
8. It's all about the finer details
When you work in retail, you are representing a brand. That means that you need to align with the brand values and get all of the finer details right. For example, you may find that you have to fold clothes in a certain way or use certain terminology with customers (e.g. Genius Bar!). The moment that you get a role at a shop, you will need to familiarise yourself with these quirks. The sooner you get to grips with the in-house ways, the sooner you will feel comfortable in the position.
9. You will have to remain positive
Long hours, demanding customers and organising stock—it's enough to wear even the most positive of people down. However, if you want to succeed in this role, you're going to need to be as positive as possible. That means seeing the good sides of the job as well as the bad. If you're a person with a naturally sunny disposition, you might just be perfect for this one!
Working in retail can be demanding. However, if you're looking for a flexible role where you will meet loads of new people, it could be right for you. Now that the high street has reopened, finding your next challenge could be easier than you think.
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