15 Retail Skills Every Sales Associate Should Have (and How to Develop Them)

I worked retail in a national women’s clothing retailer for three years in school. Contrary to lots of people, I loved it. Retail is fast-paced and enjoyable. Sure, folding clothing was dull, but selling was an exercise in creativity and people skills that I simply could not get enough of.

The business also has high turnover, and in my time in the shop, I learned that retail workers possess certain traits and abilities that other retail workers simply don’t.

Before we jump to this, I wish to stipulate that when employing a retail sales associate, supervisors should consider a candidate’s natural traits and attitude. All of the skills involved in retail are developed from their inherent traits and can be taught on the job.

As an Apple recruiting director has stated ,”We have learned to value magnetic character as much as proficiency.”

What abilities do you profit from retail?

Working in retail helps you gain and develop several abilities and characteristics which you could later in life. These include, empathy, active listening, patience, adaptability, communication ability, and much more.

Let’s look at a number of the skills and traits in more detail below.

Retail abilities and attributes that typically come naturally

1. The desire to help others

The most important trait in a sales associate is an interest in helping others. Retail as a business is geared towards making customers‘ lives better through a single product or another. A tremendous retail worker is interested in figuring out exactly what a client needs and how to get it to them.

Take, for instance, Apple. The merchant looks for”individuals who can not be told things are impossible.” This may ultimately lead them to have the ability to sell well, instruct the client on goods relevantly, and supply top-notch customer service.

2. Empathy

An empathetic employee is someone who can put themselves on your clients’ shoes and really understand what they want.

Empathy is the foundation for amazing active listening skills and over one expert has recognized this attribute as the thing which will save brick-and-mortar retail.

3. Patience

Patience is a critical ingredient in excellent customer service skills.

The simple truth is that sometimes you’ll need to work with a customer who wants to take things really slowly, and you will need to match your pace to theirs. Or you will be confronted with a client that needs you to run to the back ten times to find precisely the correct product.

4. Friendliness

While you don’t have to be an extrovert to be a great retail worker (I knew a couple of introverts who smashed the game), you do need to be friendly.

Retail is a people-oriented business. Sales associates have to be kind and welcoming to everyone who walks through the doorway. Friendliness provides a vital foundation for all selling and customer service skills.

5. Must be a fast learner

From your first day at work as a sales associate, you’ll be inundated with advice: the way to operate the register; how to conduct a sale; how to fold the clothes properly.

This never actually ends either. Shops update their stock roughly once a month, providing workers a completely new catalogue to memorize. Shops also tend to change their screens up weekly, requiring workers to learn anything from a minor new design to a comprehensive store shift.

As an extension of this, retail workers of now *must* know how to use technology. So much of retail work is seamlessly integrated with things like cellular POS technology it is not feasible for a sales associate to battle with technology. (More on this later.)

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During my time there were over a few older workers who may never work out how to operate the register well and as such created backups in the counter, finally causing far more work for everybody else and headaches for customers.

6. Must be able to multitask (and prioritize)

Retail associates must have the ability to work with many customers at the same time while caring for go-backs and maintaining the shop neat. Associates must also have the ability to prioritize clients and other tasks.

Additionally, it happens all too frequently that multiple clients will really seek your aid at the same time, so workers need to have the ability to handle this.

7. Must be able to handle physical exertion

For a job that needs you to be on your toes for 5hours, you’d think this attribute would be a no-brainer for supervisors to hire for.

You would be wrong.

I saw multiple workers hired during my period who were not able to handle physically exerting for that long. There is not too much more to say about this besides that working the floor is a demanding task and individuals will need to be hired so.

8. Must be resilient

Retail is a tough business. Associates must be good at bouncing back any time they encounter difficult clients. Resilience is also required to weather sales slumps. If your shop is experiencing a recession, your workers want the ability to recoup from slow months or days.

9. Active listening skills

Active listening abilities are crucial for all customer support and salespeople. It is not the most natural ability to develop but with practice, anyone can become an active listener.

How to create active listening skills

  • Encourage your workers to talk to clients in a format where they replicate back the majority of what a client has just said to confirm it. This template compels a worker to pay more attention to what the client is saying.
  • You may also coach your employees in their own body language. Open body language helps the customer feel heard — and it can really help your employees pay better attention.

10. Deep product knowledge

A amazing retail sales partner has a very deep understanding of your catalog. This permits them to field questions and create solutions for your clients.

This is a skill that can only be obtained after working hands with all of your goods for a time period, but there are a few things that management can do to make the process simpler.

How to create retail product knowledge

  • Identify a few important products and making them special. Teach them to your brand new workers to as the base of the knowledge.
  • Keep flyers or posters in the rest room or behind the register for your employees to quickly check with relevant product information. For example, a shop that sells multiple matches of trousers might want to create a tiny infographic of the critical differences between the trousers to help workers learn them quickly.
  • Hold”unboxing sessions” with your own team. That is what Elevator, an jewelry and accessories boutique in Toronto is doing. “Whenever new designers arrive in the shop, we sit down with the merchandise in front of us, look at it really thoroughly. We discuss the materials that it is made out of, who the designer is, what is particularly unique about this item, and how to demonstrate it,” says shop owner Niko Downie.
  • As you launch new things, decide on the top 5-10 things to include on some form of infographic to again, disseminate the information about those products. The shop I worked at published a new poster each month of the”Key 10.” This poster included not only information about the things we were supposed to learn, but they really picked the Essential 10 items based on what sold well together, which makes it much easier for us to upsell new products.
  • There is no better way to find out about a product than to use it. Have your workers get hands-on with your goods so that they can fully understand how they work. LUSH, for example , really sends new workers on whole days of interactive training to fully comprehend LUSH’s products.
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The shop I worked at used each these methods at various times during my employment and I found them to be tremendously helpful. I will still tell you that the four pant cuts they had during my time and what made them distinct.

11. Industry expertise

Modern shoppers are incredibly well-informed and 83 percent of customers think they’re more knowledgeable than retail partners.

To successfully participate shoppers, your staff must develop the perfect industry expertise. It is not enough to have basic product knowledge. In-store associates will need to be true experts and supply information that shoppers do not already know.

The best way to develop business knowledge in retail

  • The best way to develop business knowledge would be to regularly keep up with what is happening in your field. Attend trade shows and events, read business publications and follow experts on your area. Engage in these learning tasks every day, and you and your staff will have no trouble developing and maintaining your business knowledge!

12. Communication skills

Your employees will have to be articulate while greeting clients, answering their questions, explaining to a client why one of your goods will resolve one of the problems and much more.

The best way to develop communication skills in retail

Consider role-playing during slow or off hours. This article provides a good guide to begin, but the general idea is to create a situation with goals for your employees to act out.

You should offer the players with a template for what you need them to say to begin with. Use positive and negative situations that have actually happened on your shop to help workers learn from actual successes or mistakes.

Additionally, it is important for supervisors to instantly call out communication successes and failures while they are fresh in the worker’s mind. If you become aware of something happening, wait until your partner disengages with their client and gently correct or praise them.

I had a supervisor who was excellent at this. She helped me create a presence of mind when I talked to clients by pulling me apart and kindly allowing me know how I could improve.

13. Sales/customer service abilities

I have lumped these two skill sets together because your very best customer service providers ought to be your very best salespeople. Your employees will need to know how to operate a client through the phases of the sale.

They have to have the ability to greet somebody, access their interests/problems, create a solution for them, and move the customer from fascination to closing successfully.

You can help your employees develop these abilities in several ways but here are a few suggestions:

  • Use modular training, where you train in brief segments, as opposed to long ones. My shop did so with fresh recruits in three-hour sessions over a few days, but Hank Boyer, President and CEO of Boyer Management Group suggests time intervals as short as 1 hour.
  • Use different learning tools and methods. Everyone learns differently, and of course, certain kinds of training methods can save you time. For example, at my shop, new recruits were shown a series of short videos that provided plenty of information concerning the revenue cycle, store policies, and other items to expect. These videos finally saved my manager lots of time teaching me with the fundamentals. And while my movies were produced by our corporate office, even a tiny store could use a mixture of Youtube movies on retail selling and possibly a couple of explanatory videos on your specific store using your mobile phone.
  • Role-playing is among the best ways to train somebody in retail. You can practice anything from implementing a return policy to the way to respond when someone walks from the dressing room in their panties (true story).
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14. Tech skills

Being able to comprehend gadgets such as mobile devices and retail systems is another important skill. Not having a good grasp of retail technologies could lead to mistakes and inefficiencies. By way of instance, if an associate is slow to understand how your POS system functions, they might end up delaying the checkout process, thus diminishing customer satisfaction.

The best way to develop technology skills in retail

  • Employ hands-on training. There is just so much that a tech manual or demonstration can instruct. If you prefer your retail workers to fully grasp your hi-tech technician (e.g., POS system, CRM, inventory management solution) you will need to give them first-hand understanding. If a person is still learning the ropes, think about creating a test account they can play . Another concept would be to pair trainees with tech-savvy workers who will show them how things are done.
  • You should also make the most of your POS system’s support offerings. Some vendors provide resources such as help facilities, webinars, whitepapers, and more. Your provider might even assign a dedicated account rep (sometimes called”client success rep”) who will chat with you on the telephone and talk you through any service difficulties. Make certain to put these tools to good use so you and your staff can completely understand your in-store technologies.

15. The ability to be a brand ambassador

As social media and influencer marketing gets more popular, associates might want to behave as”brand ambassadors” who support and help encourage the merchant on social networking.

Forward-thinking retailers are beginning to capitalize on this practice by turning their partners into influencers. Macy’s, as an instance, established Macy’s Style Crew, a brand ambassador program that encourages their employees to make more brand participation by sharing style and fashion content on social networking.


There are lots of great retails workers out there. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over a few. Ultimately, remarkable retail workers are both born and made. A retail manager should aim to comprehend their staff’s the inherent talent and develop it.


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  3. connectpos.com/top-4-pos-for-android-in-2020/
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