December 11, 2019

5 ways to smash your career goals in retail

It’s never been a more exciting time to work in retail. Trends, technology and customer behaviour are changing at a rapid pace, bringing massive opportunities to develop your skills, find mentors and progress in your career.

With employment opportunities available in buying, sales, logistics and merchandising to name but a few, retail is a sector where you can literally start on the shop floor and work your way up.

Here’s how you can gain that shop floor knowledge to smash your career goals in retail:

1. Truly understand your customers

Any job in retail should be focused around one thing: the customer. And where better to learn about these vital stakeholders than face-to-face?

In fact, it’s the only place to develop this insight. As Erik Nordstrom, Co-President of Nordstrom, the American chain of luxury department stores, explains, “There’s no way to learn [about the customer] in the classroom or in the corner office, or away from the customer. You’ve got to be in front of the customer.”

Take advantage of a customer-facing role to find out how people are using your products and what problems they have – you’ll be an expert in no time!

2. Know what you sell

Understanding the customer, although vital, is only one piece of the puzzle. The magic happens when you match this understanding with a deep knowledge of what you sell.

Do your research and know exactly what you offer to people. Then you’ll be able to answer even the trickiest enquiry, guiding the customer to the perfect solution while passing on your passion for the products and standing out as a dedicated salesperson.

3. Learn about the bigger picture

Do you know how a product gets designed, comes from the manufacturer, gets onto a shop shelf and is bought by a consumer? Take time to learn the process so you understand how your future role fits in with the big picture, as well as learning about problems that can arise and how to solve them.

Try to connect with people who work in every stage, from the loading dock to salespeople, merchandisers, finance and beyond, to gain different perspectives on the process. 

4. Make your ambitions known

Managers are not mind-readers!

Elizabeth Boyd, Founder of Excellence In Retail, says that all too often in retail a manager hires someone for a leadership position and “After the new person starts you learn that [an existing employee] is upset because they thought they should have been considered.”

Let your line manager know what your goals are, even if the specifics are not clear at the moment. They might be able to help you shape them into something more concrete and ensure you’re not passed over for any opportunities.

5. Find mentors in your company

Looking beyond your line manager, a mentor from a different area of the business can give insightful feedback, introduce you to valuable people and maybe even help you find your dream job. And a retail job gives you access to decision makers from a wide range of fields.

Show initiative and ask for advice on how to nail your current role and progress in your chosen path. Who knows where it might lead?

And last but not least – don’t forget to register with us.

Once you’ve registered your details on BASE’s Talent Pool, we can connect you all the latest jobs from our outstanding employers.