What Retail Careers Are Available?

When you think of retail careers, you probably think of a gum snapping, bubble blowing teenager, standing at a register, looking bored out of her mind. But the days of dead-end retail jobs are swiftly fading as retail companies begin to understand the value of long-term, driven and motivated employees, even at the entry level.

Making a career out of retail is becoming more desirable as companies have begun promoting from within. No longer will a cashier expect to remain at the register with the same low pay year after year. Hard working retail workers can expect to find advancement into store management, regional management, purchasing merchandising and more. The qualities that help an individual succeed in retail are energy, enthusiasm and strong interpersonal skills. Those who get great satisfaction out of helping people will find retail careers rewarding.

How to Become a Retail Manager

Those who excel at store clerk positions can become store managers, making them responsible for scheduling employee shifts, supervision and fielding customer complaints. Store clerks should make their intentions of advancement clear to store managers from the start. Ask for management training and gain the skills you need for management even before a position becomes available. This provides opportunities for a store clerk to advance to a manager position sooner. When your training is already in place, you will have the advantage of knowing the company’s business methods well and may even be chosen over those applying from other companies who already have management experience.

It is important to seek the right attitude about working your way up in retail. The first year or two can feel like an eternity as you go through your daily grind. When you view your work as a learning experience that will make you a better manager someday, it will be easier to find pleasure in even the most mundane tasks. Take pride in your job and follow the rules closely. Encourage others to do the same and you will be proving your skills in leadership.


It can often be difficult to present a model for other workers to follow. There is often resentment and you may feel as though you are seen as a “goody two shoes”. By making it fun and engaging, you will have more success in encouraging others to do their jobs as management wants them done. Be sensitive to the needs and feelings of fellow coworkers and avoid running straight to the store manager for help. Show your initiative and leadership skills primarily by setting a good example and secondly by showing the value of following the rules to others. Explain why these rules benefit the business and by extension, the employees.

Other retail careers will often require a college degree in retail or business. These careers include purchasing, merchandising and brand management.


Buyers have challenging jobs. They see constant flux in the level of success they achieve as sales rise and fall from one week to the next. These individuals are expected to find innovative ways to continually improve sales. The must be good decision makers, reacting quickly each day to maximize profits. The must have a strong intuition for while products and styles will be in vogue six months from now. The job requires constant networking and contacts to communicate with vendors and manufacturers, locating the best products for your business to sell.

It is vital that buyers have a strong sense of fashion and design. They spending millions at a time on products they predict consumers will want. Being a good trend setter will help you succeed in this field. These professionals often visit stores and directly observe customer reactions to their decision. They also go from store to store, speaking with managers and addressing difficulties with products and sales, so good communication skills are a necessity.

In many cases, a company has a buying team responsible for introducing a successful portfolio of products as a team. Not only must they predicts and locate the latest trends, they must also be good negotiators, bartering for the best price from suppliers. Workers must analyze past sales and price trends and learn how to prevent problems in supply. They will also seek ways to out maneuver competitors in the market place. Assistant buyers will be employed to place orders and ensure they are completed.


Merchandising is another sector within retail that offers rewarding careers. Merchandisers are responsible for sales promotions and displays. In many cases, merchandising and purchasing are lumped into one job description

Merchandising managers have a broader scope of responsibility and must plan and implement sales promotions and programs. They work closely with executives and advertising professionals to develop ad campaigns. They must decide whether to advertise on television or radio and will review displays in stores to ensure they are properly implemented.

Brand Management

Brand Managers offers one of the most challenging and rewarding careers in the retail industry. These executives must protect and grow reputation of a company or product. The focus is on creating a strong identity in the public eye with the brand these managers promote. They may also conceptualize, develop and implement new product lines under an existing brand name.

Brand managers work with marketing executives and merchandisers in strategizing promotions. They also spend a great deal of time communicating with licensing partners to determine the status of new product roll outs or negotiations. These executives must also keep a constant eye out for new brand extensions and potential branding partners. They will review customer surveys and testing to identify any problems with the public perception of the brand they may need to address.

Those who are enthusiastic and passionate about a particular product can make excellent brand managers. They must be able to back their enthusiasm with solid analysis and find creative solutions to problems that may arise. Interpersonal skills are a must since these professionals are in constant communications with licensing partners. They must be able to develop strong relationships easily.

All of these retail careers can be rewarding for those willing to work hard to drive sales and help the retailer succeed. Every major retailer has these positions available, but it is up to the individual to gain the skills needed to fill these roles through initiative, hard work and a drive to succeed.