Retail work can be both stressful and rewarding, and all at the same time. It's work that keeps you up on your feet (which can be great, but also painful), lets you work with people, and lets you be a part of something big – you're selling people the clothes they're going to wear, the food they're going to eat, the furniture they're going to live on, and the entertainment that is going to make them laugh and cry.
It's also the type of work that keeps you out of the house on holidays and forces you to be nice to even the rudest customers.
Jobs Available in the Retail World
The best retail jobs don't have to have you standing behind a register. You can apply to many different positions in a retail environment; it depends on your experience and interests on which ones you'll want to look into. There are tons of different jobs available in retail, here are some of the main ones you may want to consider.
1. Sales Associate
Retail sales associates work directly with customers. You may be the first person a customers sees and talks to when they come into a store. You are on the floor, you are helping customers and keeping the store looking presentable.
The hours for this particular position will vary by shifts that depend on the store's hours of operation. You can be an opener or a closer, or you can even work a midday shift. If you work at a big box store that is open 24 hours, you can work the third shift position which often comes with increased pay.
You shift hours will often be different times on different days. You'll usually have to work at least some nights and weekends each week. You may also be required to work on holidays.
As a floor associate, you will be spending a lot of time on your feet, and it'll be for minimum wage most likely (most retail stores start employees off on or around minimum wage. However, in this type of position you can usually expect to get evaluations every six months to a year, that will often include small raises until you reach a cap. You don't really have to have any job experience to work as a sales associate – you just need to be personable.
2. Stock Associate
If you're not the customer service type, you may want to consider a position as a stock person. You still get the benefits of a retail job (flexible hours, insurance, and more), but you get to focus on keeping shelves stocked (often during after hours if the business isn't open 24 hours.
This position, because it's generally an overnight thing, will usually pay a buck or two more than a normal sales position. Stock positions also don't require any experience, but you may be required to do some heavy lifting, and it's a strenuous job with lots of bending and lifting.
Where sales associates spend their time on the floor checking on customers progress and helping them find the items they need, cashiers usually stay toward the front-end of the store even when they're not busy ringing up merchandise for customers. Most cashier jobs make you stand, although Aldi cashiers can opt to sit.
You need to be good with money and customers and have a thick skin when working as a cashier. You also have to work well under pressure, because this minimum wage position can be extremely hectic, especially during the holiday seasons.
4. Retail Manager
If you're experienced in the world of retail, and you have some experience in management or being the leader of a team, you may want to consider the increased pay that comes with being a retail manager. You can bring in around $15 an hour, depending on the employer and where you live.
As far as retail management goes, you will need to have a minimum of a high school diploma in order to work as a managerial candidate. You will be guiding a team of employees, dealing with all aspects of the business on the floor and in the office. It's a lot of responsibility that includes ordering products, dealing with loss prevention, and keeping a full staff of knowledgeable employees.
5. Assistant Manager
Assistant Manager is another great role to step into if you like being in charge, want to start at more than minimum wage, and you have at least some experience in retail. Your job in this position will be to assist the manager and to take over for them when there is no store manager on staff.
As an assistant to the manager, you may also do some product orders, as well as some employee scheduling. You'll likely also assist with hiring and firing of the staff that works below you.
6. Customer Service Representative
When you go to the store with a return and have to go to the “customer service counter, it is a Customer Service Representative, or CSR, that is assisting you. You're like a glorified cashier – you get the luxury of ringing up fewer customers, but you're also the one that will be dealing with the angry and unhappy customers on a regular basis.
To get this position, you need to be excellent with conflict resolution, and you really should have a thick skin. Depending on your experience, this role could pay as much as a management position. You have much of the same authority as management – to take returns and do exchanges.
7. Warehouse Associate
Many stores, online and off, have warehouses. Those warehouses need people that can work flexible hours (day and night), can do a lot of lifting, and maybe even know how to drive a forklift. You won't be at a desk, directly assisting customers, or running a cash register.
Instead, you'll be fulfilling orders, packing boxes, moving stuff, and other grunt work. Warehouses offer numerous positions from managerial to quality control. Which one you qualify depends on experience, and which one you apply to depends on how much money you want to make and how much responsibility you want to have.
Warehouse work pay varies on what you're doing, but even general work will pay a few dollars more than minimum wage.
8. Online Merchandiser
If you enjoy the perks of retail, but you want something different and maybe even want to work from home, online merchandising is the way to go. You can work for retail companies that operate online only. They have warehouse positions too, but if you're tech-savvy, be the one that posts all the products online.
You'll need to be good with words in this position, instead of good with sales. You'll be spending time writing product descriptions that need to sell the items – since people won't be able to hold that item in their hands at all until they've purchased it and then spent time waiting for it to arrive in the mail. You need good grammar and skills in search engine optimization (SEO).
Online work like this can pay even better than a managerial position in retail. Plus, you may be able to work from an office, or you might have the chance to telecommute from your own home office.
The Best Retail Jobs and Where to Find Them
Now that you know some of the best positions there are in the retail world, it's time to see where you should be applying to in order to get your dream retail position. When it comes to working in a retail environment, here are some great places to consider working - and some of the reasons why their employees are so happy there.
If you're the sporty or fitness type and you have a passion for yoga, Lululemon may be just the right place for you to get a job. Not only is this store a popular shopping destination for fitness lovers of all types, employees love working here because they offer a great benefits package that includes free fitness classes.
It's a company that cares about the health and well-being of both its customers and its employees. You'll have fun working here in any position.
NIKE sells more than just shoes. It's another excellent employment choice for anyone that's into sports. They're an innovative company, so you can feel good working there and feel like you're part of the future of fitness and sports.
NIKE offers an array of employment opportunities, including warehouse staff positions. Employees like that it's a quality work environment with coworkers that help challenge you every day while you're on the job. You grow and evolve while making money.
REI is a company that specializes in outdoor gear and clothing. This is the ideal job for those of you that love camping and hiking, and spending as much time outside as you can. By working in retail roles that fit your interests, you can be more knowledgeable, and get discounts as an employee – which is great when you need a new tent or some new hiking shoes.
Employees like that REI is built on high values. They respect their employees, and they expect that same kind of respect from them. It's also a company that rewards its hard workers by letting them move up the ranks.
4. J. Crew
If you have a passion for clothing, J. Crew offers a little bit of something for everyone. You can help men and women find the perfect outfit for whatever they're doing. It can be satisfying assisting people to pick the clothes that are right for them – so put your eye for fashion to good use.
Employees love their jobs with J. Crew because they offer great benefits, time off, and a wellness plan for employees. They also have a great employee discount. Their peer reviewing program also offers something a little different that assists in the growth of employees and their teams.
Adidas is a German company, but they have locations in the United States as well. They are a sports brand company, much like NIKE. If you have a love of the game (any game), Adidas would be a great company for you to apply to.
Current employees stick around with Adidas because they offer an amazing 401k package and great pay. They are a family-oriented business, so you can opt for flex time and make sure you never miss important family events. They also have vacation benefits that put other businesses to shame.
These are really only just a very few of the amazing companies out there that are offering so much goodness to the people that work for them. When you are job hunting, don't just look at pay and position – look at the benefits the company is offering as well. Opt for a company that offers wellness plans, not just medical insurance, and that provides you training and room to grow.
The Best Retail Jobs Aren't Always the Ones that Pay Best
Money isn't everything when it comes to working in retail. When you find yourself considering one of the best retail jobs out there, look into a few things first – including the benefits they offer, what they're selling, and the overall atmosphere of the store. Sometimes working for a great company with great coworkers can be the best pay ever.