Do you think a career can be built from retail experience? Simply ask the store managers, warehouse managers, merchandisers, buyers and other high level retail executives at major Canadian retailers. Almost all of them would say that their careers began as customer service representatives, shelf stockers, sales, mystery shoppers, warehouse and distribution staff and more. The beauty of the retail industry is that entry level positions are easy to come by and you can enter the retail industry at any age or stage in life.
Many people get their first retail experience because of a need for secondary income. They enjoy the flexibility of being able to find the income in a part-time or seasonal role at a retailer. Many individuals find that this segues into a long and meaningful career in retail. In fact, for almost every retail professional, what began as a retail job turned into a retail career.
So how does retail experience turn into a retail career? First, establishing a foundation that includes a diverse range of experience will be the key. When thinking about roles at retail, each opportunity should consider the big picture. For example, shelf stockers may end up in the distribution side of retail, retail professionals who ensure that products are in stock and priced may end up in the merchandising side of retail, mystery shoppers may end up with a meaningful career in merchandising or distribution. Product demonstrators and sales staff may end up with a long and fulfilling career in sales of retail or in marketing.
In an entry level role, especially a proven commitment and passion for your role is necessary before advancement is possible. A high degree of efficiency (for example, quickly ringing up sales), the ability to troubleshoot (determining what the problem or challenge is and how to fix it), strong interpersonal skills (remaining calm when a customer is upset), and great communication (both in listening and speaking) are vital. Your performance in your role at retail will set you apart from those who simply take store jobs out of convenience, and it will show that you have star potential.
As you gain experience, you are likely to discover the long term career opportunities that are most appealing to you. Perhaps you would like to explore retail merchandising, assuming responsibility for merchandise displays, signage, and everything else the customer sees when he or she enters the store. Merchandising is an exciting job that engages your creativity, your understanding of human nature, and your knowledge of the products your store carries. Another retail career path is in management. Perhaps you like the idea of being in charge of every aspect of your department, hiring and managing employees, and bringing your personal touch to the customer experience. Once you have demonstrated that you have an aptitude for management, you can rapidly advance up the management ranks, moving on to store manager, regional manager, or even district manager.
The best way to obtain the most experience in a wide variety of different types of retailers is to work with a placement agency that specializes in the retail industry. A placement agency will have you work with different retailers providing support that will teach you how to represent many different brands. A placement agency will give you the most diverse exposure and experience. You may determine that you would prefer a retail career in consumer packaged goods vs. clothing, for example, and the experience you can gain working through a placement agency will prove to be invaluable in your decision making process.
Wherever your retail career path leads, keep in mind that entry-level retail jobs give you the chance to develop a variety of skills that will serve you well.
For more information about building a career from retail experience or if you are interested in obtaining a one of the following retail positions: shelf stockers, mystery shoppers, customer service, sales, product demonstrations or other retail opportunities, please contact Bonnie Yhip at StoreSupport at 1 877-421-5081 or visit www.storesupport.ca.