Part-time Student Work in Retail
Why work in retail?
Retail is the second-largest employment industry in Australia (after healthcare and social services). Almost 11% of the working population works in retail. Retail is also the largest employer of youth. Many retail jobs are part-time or casual positions. The most common part-time retail job is sales assistant, although there are many other positions also available. The hourly rate for part-time or casual retail jobs ranges between the award rate ($15.96/hr) and around $22/hr.
Part-time retail jobs
- Sales Assistant
These workers are needed in the largest and smallest retail stores. Their job usually involves assisting customers with finding the products in the store;providing knowledgeable descriptions of products and explanations of product use; advising customers on product features to help them make the right purchase decision; operating the point of sales terminal or cash register; wrapping or packaging the product for the customer; arranging delivery; dealing with returned goods and faulty items; pricing stock; stocktaking, arranging the merchandise displays and keeping the store tidy.
- Customer Service Representative
Customer service is often performed as part of a sales assistant’s duties. However it can also be a more specialised position, especially in larger retail settings like department stores, or stores with more complex merchandise (like electronics stores). The duties of a customer service representative will vary on the store, but will include handling customer complaints, dealing with special requests, faulty merchandise and may (in some cases) include tech support.
- Visual Merchandiser
The job of a visual merchandiser is to design and set up the merchandising displays in the store in such a way that it will attract customers and entice them to buy the products. This may include window-dressing, creating point of sale displays, mannequin dressing and other projects. Again, depending on the size of the retailer, this job may be undertaken by a sales assistant or retail manager.
Depending on the size of the company, a manager will have responsibility for either a floor (floor manager), a sub-section of the company’s operations (supply chain manager), or for the entire store. Managers are responsible for the work undertaken by the people under them; for their floor, section or store’s performance (in terms of meeting sales or supply targets in relation to overall company objectives); for dealing with staff and coordinating activities.
- Shelf Stocker
Shelf stocking is a common job available in FMCG and department stores. The job of a store stocker is to keep the store displays filled with the right products, to manage inventory and if asked, to assist customers in finding the right product.
What kind of skills do you need to work in retail?
Fortunately for uni students, part time retail jobs often do not require prior qualification or experience. More crucial is a pleasant attitude, a passion for the industry, the will to work hard, good communication skills and a presentable appearance. Teamwork and initiative are also important. More management-level jobs may require a diploma, however it is also possible to rise through the ranks to a management position.
What kind of companies offer retail jobs?
Retail is a huge industry comprising both very large and very small companies. The largest retailers include FMCG retailers like Woolworths and Coles and department stores like David Jones, Myer, Big W, Target, Bunnings, Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi.
What will you learn in retail?
A part-time job in retail will teach you many “soft” skills and habits which will be valuable to future employers. These include:
- Verbal communication
- Time management
- Leadership (especially if you are a manager)
- Conflict management and resolution
- Tact and remaining cool under pressure
- Cultural awareness