What is a Retail Salesperson?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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A retail salesperson sells a wide range of merchandise to the general public in a for-profit environment, such as a store in a mall. She conducts sales transactions involving cash, checks, debit cards and credit cards. Her accuracy in processing payments is fundamental to her success in this position. It is also highly desirable for her to be friendly and engaging to make customers feel welcome and eager to purchase the store’s products.

To be effective, a retail sales associate is commonly expected to know as much as possible about the store’s merchandise so she can efficiently serve her customers. This includes being aware of promotions and sales and knowing what colors, sizes and styles are available for each product. Her knowledge of the merchandise enables her to make suggestions to customers and possibly increase sales and build good will.

Being able to answer customer inquiries is an important trait for a retail salesperson. She is typically expected to be informed of return and exchange policies and be able to clearly communicate this information to customers. If the product can be ordered or possibly found at a branch location, she should be aware of these options and share them with customers. A good knowledge of current and anticipated inventory is an asset.


Depending on the nature of the business, a retail salesperson is commonly expected to be informed enough about product specifics to answer detailed customer inquiries. These questions typically include topics regarding fabric content and care, product features and how to use them and expected longevity of the product. In some cases, questions regarding safety and health issues may arise if the product contains chemicals or uncommon ingredients.

Once a retail salesperson has been thoroughly trained and able to work without direct supervision, she may be required to stay each night and close the store. Closing procedures ordinarily include balancing the cash drawer and matching receipts to credit card transactions. Preparing and making the daily bank deposit is often part of the closing procedure tasks as well.

Store organization is customarily part of a retail salesperson’s job. Aisles should be generally be clear of obstructions and counters free of clutter. Designing neat and attractive merchandise displays is typically one of the retail salesperson’s responsibilities.

The basic security of the location may also be the responsibility of the retail salesperson. She should be aware of surveillance cameras and mirrors and monitor them to prevent losses. If shoplifters are spotted, the retail clerk is normally required to notify the proper personnel to question or apprehend them.

A position as a retail salesperson does not normally require more than a high school diploma or its equivalent. If a person is friendly and enjoys interacting with a wide range of personalities, a position in retail sales is usually a good job choice. Good math and organizational skills are also highly valued for this occupation.


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