I want to work in ..... Retail

Shopping trolley

There are many roles in retailing: store management, buying, merchandising, distribution, property etc. Many retailers will expect graduates to begin their careers in store management before moving into head office functions such as buying – this gives a knowledge of the retailer, its products and customers that can only be gained through front-line experience. You can, of course, start to gain this experience as a student through part-time or vacation work in retail – see our Work Experience pages

Also see our PRACTICE INTERVIEW FOR RETAIL MANAGEMENT

For fashion retailing see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/fashion.htm

retail careers chart

PROFILE: Retail Manager

INVOLVES: Management of a shop or store. Maximising sales impact of shop. Achieving sales targets. Control & banking of takings. Responsible for turnover, weekly accounts/long-term financial planning (profit/loss). Managing & developing staff, recruitment/training/motivation/control. Stock control/replenishment/shrinkage control. Merchandising. Improving profile of shop in local community
EMPLOYERS: Department stores, supermarkets & smaller shops e.g. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Harrods, Debenhams, B & Q. New retail superstores e.g. Staples
RELATED JOBS: hotel & catering management, production management, distribution & logistics management, buyer, merchandiser, personnel manager, travel agency manager, fast food manager.
SATISFACTIONS: 'Ability to put ideas into practice, make a profit! Staff development, recruitment & training. Customer service, achieving planned targets, motivating a team of people. Advancement is on merit. Maintenance of high merchandising standards in shop.'
NEGATIVES: 'Long hours, unsociable hours, difficult customers, accountability to Head Office. Hassle from several factors (customers, difficult situations, pressure). Being responsible for pricing accuracy & health & safety.'
SKILLS: organising & planning, leading, decision making, cooperating, practical skills.
ADVANCEMENT: Start as company trainee then departmental manager/deputy manager/trainee manager - manager -area manager - district manager. Sideways moves into Head Office & field jobs may arise. Promotion is on merit & can be rapid but need to be prepared to move to different parts of the country after jobs.
DEGREE: Any degree subject is acceptable.
VACANCY SOURCES: Mail on Sunday. The Grocer magazine.
TIPS: Experience in a shop is important through holiday work etc. Show an interest in the company/type of work you will be expected to do. Be prepared to start as a trainee. Companies generally recruit annually & are interested in people who have their feet on the ground.

 

PROFILE: Retail Buyer

INVOLVES: Working to locate suppliers, & maintain relationships with established suppliers, of products to be sold in retail or wholesale outlets & by mail-order, negotiating prices, delivery dates & product specifications. Working with merchandisers & store managers to monitor sales & anticipate future demands.
RELATED JOBS: purchasing manager, retail manager, and merchandiser.
SATISFACTIONS: Influencing the range & types of products offered in stores; seeing the results of your work very quickly; variety - new products and/or styles are always being introduced; may be opportunities for overseas travel.
NEGATIVES: Long hours; unpredictable work patterns.
SKILLS: spoken & written communication, negotiation; decision making, cooperating, numeracy.
ADVANCEMENT: Trainee Buyer/Buyer's Assistant - Buyer - may move between product ranges to gain more responsibility thereafter, or move to larger departments or companies. As Senior Buyer, would train & manage other buyers, set budgets & quality standards, plan new ranges, etc.
DEGREE: any degree, but numerate, fashion or business-related subjects may be preferred.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY: None
TIPS: Get retail experience via part-time or vacation work. Be aware of the market in your chosen area - read relevant publications, such as trade and/or consumer magazines for food, fashion, etc. Be prepared to enter buying via store management - it helps to know customer requirements from the sharp end! Some recruitment agencies specialise in the fashion industry, including buying.
Buying teams tend to be quite small and vacancies are very few and far between. Buying roles that do come up are often advertised internally first. Therefore, your best route in is often to get a job in store first.
For more information see our Purchasing Careers page

 

PROFILE: Merchandiser

INVOLVES: Ensuring shops have adequate supplies of the goods the customers want; working with buyers & store managers to obtain products, distribute them to stores & present them to customers. Planning new ranges; analysing & forecasting sales
EMPLOYERS: Retailers of all kinds.
RELATED JOBS: purchasing manager, retail manager, retail buyer, logistics manager.
SATISFACTIONS: Influencing the range & types of products offered in stores; anticipating trends; seeing the results of your work very quickly.
NEGATIVES: Pressurised work - unpredictable factors, such as the weather, can throw all your plans into disarray & leave you with large quantities of unsold stock. Often need to work long hours, including weekends
SKILLS: analysing; numeracy; planning & organising; decision making; cooperating; using computers; spoken & written communication, negotiation.
ADVANCEMENT: Begin as Allocator/Merchandise Assistant, working with suppliers & branches; Assistant Merchandiser - Merchandiser - Senior Merchandiser
DEGREE: Any degree, but numerate, fashion or business-related subjects may be preferred
POSTGRADUATE STUDY: None
VACANCY SOURCES: Graduate directories, The Grocer, The Appointment
TIPS: Get retail experience via part-time or vacation work, Be aware of the market in your chosen area - read relevant publications, such as trade and/or consumer magazines for food, fashion, etc. Be prepared to enter merchandising via store management - it helps to know customer requirements from the sharp end! Some recruitment agencies specialise in this field of work.
BBC Article on Merchandising

Profile: Retail merchandiser www.prospects.ac.uk/retail_merchandiser.htm

General Information Sources

Employers

 

Last fully updated 2013