Retail Sales 101
That's a quick look at what a retail salesperson does. To better understand the job, here are some more specifics.
Retailing employers include all types and sizes of businesses from the largest Sam's Club and Costco to the mom-and-pop neighborhood store. Each follows the same process: buy at wholesale and sell at retail. Buy a lot of 100 or so and sell them one at a time. Of course, it's not quite that simple — otherwise
In many stores, the retail clerk and cashier are the same person. In others, employees often begin as cashiers, then are promoted to clerks who work more directly in the selling process with customers. Many retail store managers come from the ranks of cashiers and clerks.
Depending on what is being sold, your employer typically calculates that about 15 to 35 percent of the transaction total (less sales tax) goes to pay employee wages and benefits. In fact, other than the wholesale price of the merchandise, the cost of employees is the largest expense that retail stores typically have.
Retail employers often encourage their employees to use fundamental selling skills. They provide basic training in customer service and related skills that can potentially increase sales. Most retailers have a training program for new hires that helps employees understand what is expected of them and how to assist customers in the buying process.
In addition, some retail employers develop commission and bonus systems to encourage helpful sales efforts. Commissions are a percentage of the sale value, while bonuses are payment for sales or service over a longer period, such as a yearly bonus.
The purpose of retailing, again, is to profitably offer products and services to individual buyers. To achieve that purpose, stores require retail clerks and cashiers who not only provide benefit to customers and employers, but also derive benefit from the transaction. By understanding the retail process and your significant place within it, you can both give more to and get more from your job.
The function of any business is to make a profit for the owner(s). Have fun, share your knowledge with your customers, help them fulfill their lives with your merchandise — but never lose track of the fact that if your employer's business isn't profitable you won't be employed for very long. If a ship sinks, it isn't just the ship and captain that are lost.