Introduction to Retail

When you see the word ‘retail’, you probably think ‘shops’. Makes sense. Do you want to work in a shop? Lots of people do.

But here’s the thing. Even if you don’t, your perfect  job might still be in the retail industry. Better still, there’s never been a more exciting time to be part of it. Here’s why.

When you go to the shops, you see the people serving customers, on the checkout, maybe the manager keeping things running  smoothly. What you don’t see is all the other people working behind the scenes to make sure there’s plenty of products on the shelves, the prices are right, the store looks great, the people are all trained up, and so on. That’s a whole lot of careers to choose from.

Then there’s the internet. Do you buy a lot of stuff online? Most people do these days. So, along with running shops of all shapes and sizes, the retail industry is one of the most advanced when it comes to using the web. If you love technology, retail’s a great place to be too.When you add it all up, the tough bit of starting a career in retail can actually be deciding where you might want to start. Let’s see if we can help:

STORE OPERATIONS. Helping to run a store by making sure it’s a nice place to shop, full of well-displayed products, with a team of happy, motivated people. These jobs are at the forefront of retail: on the shop floor.

BUYING & MERCHANDISING. Buyers have the vital role of finding products that people will love. Merchandisers make sure each store has the right mix of these products to satisfy customers and meet sales targets.

VISUAL MERCHANDISING. People buy with their eyes. Visual Merchandisers are the people who design how each store can show off its products to their best through eye-catching window and floor displays.

MARKETING. This team analyses their customers’ needs. They then use those insights to help choose products, set prices, and come up with promotional activities like advertising and special offers.

FINANCE. Managing the money is vital to any retailer’s success. The Finance team tackles a wide range of challenges – from monitoring budgets and allocating resources to planning the overall strategy.

HR & TRAINING. Great businesses are great teams. HR and Training professionals help recruit the right people, ensure they’re well managed and fairly rewarded, and give them the skills they need to succeed.

LOGISTICS. Getting a product from where it’s made all the way into your shopping basket is a complex business. That’s what Logistics is all about – all while saving money and protecting the environment.

IT AND E-COMMERCE. Retail is a technology-driven industry. Focus on IT and you’ll keep our networks and hardware bang up-to-date. Or you might prefer eCommerce, which is more about coding and designing for the web.

PRODUCT DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY. Designing clothes and accessories at a retailer is about creating everyday fashion people will love. Technologists look after the safety and quality of these items, plus everything from electrical products to toys.

How do I get into retail?

You can never really know if you’ll enjoy something unless you’ve given it a try. So the first important step you can take as a sixth-former is to do some work experience. Local shops and businesses are a good place to start. Ask around. When you start your retail career is up to you; whether that’s straight out of school or once you’ve finished university.

So should I go into retail?

Well, that’s up to you. Like any career, it has its challenges. For example, it can mean long and often unsociable hours. But if you’re passionate about your job and work hard, you can progress into a senior position more quickly than in most  industries. You really will get out what you put in.