What Does a Retail Sales Representative Do?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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A retail sales representative actively engages customers by attempting to match their needs with a company's products. In most cases, the sales rep initiates and completes sales transactions in a physical store. Those involved in selling products may need to explain their features to customers, demonstrate how the various features work, and handle returns and exchanges. Other duties, such as merchandising, stocking, and counting inventory may also become part of a retail sales representative's routine.

Working as a retail sales representative mainly involves servicing walk-in customers who are interested in purchasing a store's merchandise. Some representatives spend most of their workdays on the sales floor, assisting with questions and recommending certain products. The representative may be responsible for closing and processing the sale at a cash register, particularly if he is paid a commission. Other types of sales agents mightspecialize in handling merchandise returns and exchanges.

Depending upon the nature of his position, a retail sales representative might assist customers who are unsatisfied with a purchase. He may examine the customer's proof of purchase, as well as the returned product to make sure that it can either be re-sold or salvaged by the store for credit. A sales representative may suggest a more suitable alternative or simply issue a refund to the customer. He is likely to ask the customer what led to the decision to return the merchandise and make suggestions regarding product improvements to a supervisor if necessary.


In both mass and specialty retail stores, stocking and merchandising can be vital aspects of a retail sales representative's job. These duties involve making sure that enough product is available on the sales floor. Restocking is performed throughout the store's business hours, and prior to opening or closing for the day. Merchandising involves arranging various products in an aesthetically pleasing manner that is designed to stimulate maximum sales volume.

Counting inventory is a task that many retail salespeople participate in on a periodic basis. These counts are performed in order to compare actual inventory on hand against the store's records. The task involves counting each product and recording the amount that is currently on the sales floor and in the store's stockrooms. Usually, each product corresponds to a universal product code (UPC) or stock keeping unit (SKU) number.

Sales representatives who work in retail may help open and close the store on a regular basis. Some of the common duties involved in these tasks include counting cash drawers, preparing nightly cash deposits, and removing stray merchandise from the sales floor. Setting up and tearing down promotional merchandise displays, according to national promotion schedules, may also be part of the salesperson's regular tasks.


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