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Store Associate Duties and Responsibilities

Store associates perform varied day-to-day job duties based on the retail store where they work and the merchandise being sold. However, these core duties are common in all retail environments:

Assist Customers Store associates greet and talk to customers to help them locate the items they want to buy. They use various sales techniques to influence shoppers and get them to spend more money on items, which can include persuading customers to establish and use the store-brand credit card.

Provide Merchandise Knowledge Store associates familiarize themselves with all store merchandise to answer customer questions and make purchase suggestions.

Process Transactions Store associates process sales transactions and collect payments from customers. This includes processing credit card payments.

Assist with Operations Store associates assist with day-to-day store operations and perform tasks assigned by managers and supervisors. This can include keeping the sales floor and stockroom clean and well-organized and setting up and maintaining in-store sales displays.


Store Associate Skills and Qualifications

Store associates connect with customers and find out what they need, applying sales techniques to sell merchandise effectively. Retail businesses prefer store associates who have the following skills:
  • Customer service - because store associates assist customers, answer questions, and help them locate specific items, customer service skills are highly desired by employers
  • Salesmanship - store associates use sales skills and techniques to sell merchandise to customers and influence them to spend more money on items
  • Computer skills - store associates use point of sale (POS) systems to process payments, which requires at least basic computer skills
  • Interpersonal skills - store associates find ways to connect with customers, using interpersonal skills to give them a positive shopping experience
  • Physical fitness - store associates spend their work shifts standing, bending, reaching, walking, and lifting, which requires strength and endurance
  • Math skills - store associates use math to collect and process customer payments for merchandise

Store Associate Education and Training

Store associates need a high school diploma or GED to get started on this career path. Previous work experience in a retail environment is highly desired by employers, but this is not a requirement of the job. Special education and training is not needed for store associates, as this is usually an entry-level job and most retail businesses provide on-the-job training. The training period varies by company but usually lasts no longer than two weeks. During training, store associates are closely supervised by a trainer or manager.

Store Associate Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), retail sales workers (which includes store associates) earn $23,370 annually, or $11.24 hourly. PayScale data shows that store associates earn a median hourly salary of $9.26.BLS data projects that store associate jobs will increase 2 percent by 2026, a growth rate that is slower than the national average. Retail stores provide major medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage for full-time store associates. Part-time store associates do not usually receive insurance coverage of any kind. Paid holidays and vacation days are standard benefits. Employees typically provide store associates with retirement, disability, and life insurance benefits as well. Some retail stores offer monetary bonuses to employees who meet or exceed sales goals. Most companies provide store associates with in-store discounts on all merchandise.

Helpful Resources

Use these books and websites to find training and educational tools, career opportunities, and essential job strategies for store associates:

The Sales Association - find training webinars, certification programs, and membership benefits for sales associates of all types at this website

Retail Sales & Customer Service - Volume 1 - this book explains the fundamentals of retail selling and working in a customer service environment, offering useful tips and strategies for store associates and other retail sales professionals

Retail Industry Leaders Association - discover news, press releases, upcoming conferences, and networking events for retail professionals of all types at this website

How to Be a GREAT Salesperson... by Monday Morning! - learn sales techniques and strategies that work using the information in this book, which covers tips for closing the sale and addressing customers with enthusiasm

National Retail Federation - visit the career center, find upcoming networking events, and read industry news updates at the NRF website, which is dedicated to retail professionals of all types

The Retail Sales Bible: The Great Book of G.R.E.A.T. Selling - this book shares simple selling tips and concepts that help to effectively drive sales

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