Retail Salespersons are considered Enterprising careers according to the Strong Interest Inventory®. This inventory sorts careers into six distinct categories depending on the personal interests, workplace preferences, and working style of people who typically hold and are successful in that career. There are also a series of assessments associated with this inventory, which are designed to identify which theme code category best fits a particular individual. The purpose of this process is to match individuals to a career which they will find satisfying, and which will align with their strengths. The Enterprising Theme Code Category focuses on advertising, marketing, and engaging in business practices, particularly sales and management. People with strong Enterprising interests tend to be optimistic, energetic, and solution-oriented.
A Retail Salesperson in particular is responsible for selling different kinds of merchandise to consumers, including furniture, appliances, clothing, or other products. In most cases, they are the consumer’s primary point of contact. They generally greet customers, and start a conversation to determine their needs or wants. They describe merchandise as needed, and explain different products’ purpose or use. In some cases, they may recommend products to customers, or help them decide among multiple options to find the one which will best serve their needs. Retail Salespersons answer customers’ questions, give them information about current discounts, specials, or other limited time offers. Once the customer decides to complete the sale, Salespersons place the order or sell the product, and process payment. Of course, Salespersons should be comfortable using the various scanners, telling machines, telephones, and other technologies and machines needed to complete these tasks.
Behind the scenes, a Retail Salesperson should stay informed on current sales and promotions in which their company is conducting, as well as any policies relating to payment, exchanges, and security. The Salesperson restocks and clean counters and shelves, and may in other ways prepare merchandise for purchase or rental. For more complex products, they may facilitate delivery, insurance, financing, or other contracts for merchandise and customer satisfaction. Some Salespersons may coordinate gift-wrapping or other aspects of presentation.
Retail Salespersons should be familiar with many different tools and technologies to successfully complete their daily operations. These include computers, cash registers, scanners, price guns and label dispensers, credit card readers, and other point of sale terminals. In addition, they may utilize basic hardware, including pliers, wrenches, hammers, ladders, and screwdrivers. Some technologies are more specialized. For instance, an apparel Salesperson might operate a garment steamer, iron, or sewing machine, while a car Salesperson must know basic automotive technologies. The software used can similarly vary by industry, but in general, Microsoft Office Suite, web browsers and email interfaces, and Intuit QuickBooks or other accounting software are staples. Beyond these, point of sale software, database user interface and query software (e.g., FileMaker Pro; Gift Registry Software, etc.), and development software like Eclipse IDE may also be used.
Most Retail Salespersons hold a high school diploma (76%), though 11% did not graduate from high school, and 9% have a bachelor’s degree. Working in retail requires strong oral communication and expression skills, as well as the ability to work closely with the general public, quickly build a rapport with others, and complete sales successfully and reliably.
Retail salespersons’ salaries vary nation-wide, from hourly rates at minimum wage to over $25 per hour in places like California and Washington D.C. Rates may change for high-dollar or commission-based sales. Alaska leads the nation in median salary at $12.18 per hour, while North Dakota is not far behind at $12.01 per hour. The lowest-paid sales people in areas like West Virginia and Arkansas earn around $8.00 per hour, resulting in an annual salary well under $17,000. Nonetheless, employment rates for Retail Salespersons is expected to continue to rise before 2024, with Texas alone adding over 50,000 new jobs.
Below are some employment trends for a Retail Salesperson:
- Median Retail Salespersons Salary: $10.47 hourly; $21,780 annually
- Employment: 4,625,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2024): Average (5% to 8%)
- Projected job openings (2014-2024): 1,917,200
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org