What Retail Sales Workers Do
Retail sales workers maintain knowledge of current sales and promotions.
Retail sales workers help customers find products they want and process customers’ payments. There are two types of retail sales workers: retail salespersons, who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture, and automobiles; and parts salespersons, who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts.
Retail sales workers typically do the following:
- Greet customers and offer them assistance
- Recommend merchandise based on customers’ wants and needs
- Explain the use and benefit of merchandise to customers
- Answer customers’ questions
- Show how merchandise works, if applicable
- Add up customers’ total purchases and accept payment
- Inform customers about current sales, promotions, and policies about payments and exchanges
The following are examples of types of retail sales workers:
Retail salespersons work in stores where they sell goods, such as books, cars, clothing, cosmetics, electronics, furniture, lumber, plants, shoes, and many other types of merchandise.
In addition to helping customers find and select items to buy, many retail salespersons process the payment for the sale, which typically involves operating cash registers.
After taking payment for the purchases, retail salespersons may bag or package the purchases.
Depending on the hours they work, retail salespersons may have to open or close cash registers. This includes counting the money in the register and separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers. They may also make deposits at a cash office.
For information about other workers who receive and disburse money, see the profile on cashiers.
In addition, retail salespersons may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or delivery of purchases, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays.
For some retail sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail sales workers need special knowledge or skills. For example, those who sell cars must be able to explain the features of various models, manufacturers’ specifications, different types of options on the car, financing available, and the details of associated warranties.
In addition, retail sales workers must recognize security risks and thefts and understand their organization’s procedures for handling thefts, which may include notifying security guards or calling police.
Parts salespersons sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts. Most work in either automotive parts stores or automobile dealerships. They take customers’ orders, inform customers of part availability and price, and take inventory.