What does a Retail Sales Associate do?

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  • Written By: Kerrie Main
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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The retail industry is comprised of a wide variety of companies and products, and a retail sales associate is on the front line of the business. This position is responsible for selling or renting the products and services of the company. People in this position typically have many duties throughout the workday, including greeting customers, assisting customers with product or service selection, maintaining merchandise, utilizing sales techniques and sometimes handling financial transactions.

Customer service is a major responsibility for a retail sales associate. A retail salesperson usually is in charge of the entire customer experience in the store. This begins with a friendly greeting and assessment of the customer’s needs. If the potential client is looking for a particular product or service, the sales associate helps to identify the specific item and usually offers guidance and advice in product choice. The main agenda is letting the customer know that the retail clerk is there to support him.

Retail sales associates sometimes help stock and refill product displays as well. They are responsible for ensuring that sales displays are well stocked and clean, as well as placing new products on display. In certain arenas, such as clothing stores, the sales associate usually folds and refolds items in display areas.


Another main feature of this position is applying sales techniques to sell the product or service. This might include answering questions about the items, performing product demonstrations and fitting or sizing potential customers. Retail sales associates must learn about current sales and product promotions and be able to effectively communicate their benefits to customers.

Many retail sales associates also are responsible for financial transactions, such as purchases, returns and refunds. This requires training and knowledge of basic math, how to operate a cash register and how to process checks and credit card transactions. The associates often are in charge of the contents of the cash register and must count money and calculate sales totals as well as organize receipts, coupons and vouchers.

The qualities needed to be a retails sales associate typically include a well-groomed appearance, a courteous manner and a helpful disposition. This position requires some organizational skills, the ability to work under pressure and the ability to work with many different types of people. Advancement opportunities from this position might include management positions or corporate sales positions, depending on the size and type of the parent corporation.


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Post 2

Sunny27- I agree. Department stores also do a great job demonstrating products in the cosmetics department. With a typical makeover, the customer sees about 10 to 15 products, and they really get to see the effects of those products immediately.

Skin care demonstrations proved to be very effective.

It often involves the retail sales associate applying an astringent on the top of the customer’s hand and immediately applying moisturizer. The moisturizer is immediately absorbed and the skin feels softer.

The customer sees these results and will contemplate the skin care purchase more so than if the demonstration had not taken place.

Post 1

Great article, it is so true that demonstrations play a huge role in helping a retail sales associate sell an item. For example, the other day I was shopping for a mattress and the retail sales associate demonstrated how the mattress cover does not allow liquids to penetrate the mattress, thus keeping it drier longer.

By spraying water on the mattress pad in front of me, and then letting me feel it, I could see that he was telling me the truth. It was really effective.

He also showed me the difference between various mattresses by performing a coil demonstration. Here I could see why the construction of the mattress actually made a mattress softer or firmer than another. The demonstration really created a picture that remained in my mind to this day.

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