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Retail Business



Store Operations...

Most retail jobs are in store operations. Jobs include management roles such as supervisor and retail manager and work on the shop floor such as sales assistant and checkout operator. 

Examples of these jobs include:

Retail managers are in overall charge of a retail outlet. This could be a department store, local or national chain store, supermarket or an independent shop selling goods such as clothes, books, wine, gifts or electrical items. In large stores, there may be more than one manager, each responsible for a specific department, and there will also usually be other managerial staff at a lower supervisory level working on the shop floor.

Retail assistants deal with all aspects of retailing such as keeping displays looking good, restocking shelves, greeting customers, dealing with queries and sales, operating tills and barcode readers and keeping the retail outlet clean and tidy. Their work varies, depending on the type and size of the store.

Checkout operators help customers, who have chosen their shopping, to pack and pay for their goods. They do a range of other duties including weighing and pricing some items such as vegetables, removing security tags, answering customers queries, checking age of customer when selling age-restricted products such as knives, and reporting any problems or difficulties to their supervisors. They may also need to spend time away from their till, filling shelves, checking stock and working on a customer service desk.

Personal shoppers are employed to give customers advice on the clothes and accessories that suit them. To do this they will carry out a consultation to find out as much as possible what the customer is looking for, what colours suit their skin and hair colouring and what styles suit  their body shape. They would then take the customer around the store giving advice and selecting items for them to try. They would keep records for future visits and sales calls and also organise sales and delivery if needed.

This section only includes a sample of jobs in store operations -  other jobs include; stock replenishment assistant/stock control, department manager, floor manager, supervisors, and specialist sales assistants in areas such as bookselling, butcher, floristry, greengrocery and jewellery sales.


Buying for retail businesses is about purchasing the best merchandise to sell making sure that the price, quality and availability are right. Buyers can maximise profits if they understand what will sell, and get it at the right price and in the best condition.

Jobs in buying include:

Retail buyers plan, select and buy the goods that are sold in retail businesses. Many buyers have a specialist area that they buy - for example buying the wines for a large chain of supermarket or clothes for a fashion chain. They need to be able to work out what the current trends and buying patterns are and search out new products and suppliers.

Retail merchandisers negotiate prices with suppliers as they need to help to maximise profit. They liaise with retail buyers, who select the product ranges, to plan the range of goods to be sold. Merchandisers decide on the exact quantity of goods to order and determine specific stock levels for each retail outlet - often using computer modelling software to look at previous sales and predict future performance. They also work closely with marketing personnel to promote special offers and sales identifying products for promotion - often linked to supplier discounts.

Smaller retailers may combine buying and merchandising roles in a general retail management position.

Customer Contact Centres...

Retail businesses, as well as banks and many other organisations, run contact centres. In retail they are usually part of a customer services department. Contact centres respond to and solve any problems raised by their customers whilst shopping from their websites or in their stores. They may replace products and/or refund or compensate the customer where a product or service did not meet the customer's expectation.

Contact centre (or call centre) operators are employed to keep in regular contact with their customers by telephone, email, SMS messaging, online instant messaging and post.  Contact centre operators may accept orders for home delivery, deal with payment for goods, and enquires or complaints about deliveries. They may help to solve technical problems with computer usage - for example customer problems with online services, or with products they have bought from the retailer such as an electrical or household appliance. 

Operators working in marketing or market research also work from call centres but in this case they initiate the calls. They contact a list of potential customers and cold-call them to sell products or obtain information.


Marketing is about influencing the behaviour of specific groups of people or organisations - for example by encouraging them to buy a new product or service. To do this they need to find out more about their target audience by commissioning market research and identify the message that they need to get across to their customers. Jobs in marketing can either be with:

  • a large organisation such as a supermarket or department store chain marketing just for that business.
  • a marketing agency - that would operate by winning commissions from a wide range of companies to market their product.

Jobs include:

Brand managers (or product managers) need to understand their customers, keep an eye on competitors, carry out research and create the right identity and brand loyalty for new products. Developing the right identity, and developing customer brand loyalty, includes getting the name and packaging of the product or range right and overseeing the advertising campaign.

Marketing executives help to promote and sell fast-moving consumer goods and products to the public, usually via retailer. Fast moving consumer goods are usually high-volume, low-value items such as food, drink, confectionery and toiletries. Marketing executives would work alongside the brand or product manager to raise awareness of the product through advertising and in-store promotions. They would be expected to come up with fresh marketing ideas to promote their products and also write creative briefs for advertising agencies.

Sales managers are employed to sell all sorts of products and services. They work in a sales team - organising a team of sales representatives and devising marketing strategies for the team to use to maximise sales and customer loyalty. They may work for a national retailer or distributor and their customers may be individuals, businesses, factories or retail outlets. They may be responsible for sales in a specific geographical area, nationally or even worldwide.

This section only includes a sample of jobs in marketing - other jobs include; sales representatives, PR assistants and market researchers.


Logistics is about the safe and efficient movement of products throughout the UK and abroad. A supply chain is set up to make sure that the goods are collected, stored, distributed and delivered in the right condition at the right time. Supply chains usually focus on specific areas such as clothing and footwear, electronics and electrical and food and drink.

Jobs include:

Distribution managers plan and manage the control and movement of goods or raw materials. They work with suppliers and warehouse managers to make sure that the right goods are delivered on time to a range of customers including retailers and manufacturers.

Importers and exporters work for import/export agencies, freight-forwarding firms, or companies that handle their own export and import of goods.  Importers deal with the procedures for bringing goods from other countries for sale in the UK, whilst exporters handle the procedures for taking goods out of the UK for sale in other countries. The main areas of work in import/export departments or agencies are related to administration, management and sales.

Large goods vehicle drivers transport millions of tonnes of goods by road around the UK, as well as to and from the Continent. As well as driving according to strict safety and working time laws, drivers usually have to plan their schedule with road transport managers, make sure that their lorry is safely and securely loaded and unloaded, and delivery paperwork is completed. They may also have to refuel the lorry during a long journey and clean out after a delivery or at the end of a shift.

Warehouse workers and managers make sure that their stock is stored in the right condition and place in the warehouse and that the correct items are packed and ready for collection when needed. Some goods need to be kept in closely monitored environments, for example fresh or frozen food that needs to be stored at specific temperatures to keep them fresh and safe. Workers and managers need to make sure that these conditions are maintained. Warehouse managers are responsible for the efficient running of the warehouse and are in charge of the workforce. Both workers and managers are likely to use computerised stock control systems.

This section only includes a sample of jobs in logistics - other jobs include; transport planner, lift truck operative, freight forwarder and ship broker/air broker.


Want to know more?

The information in this jobs section is a summary of what's involved in each of the jobs and only a few jobs are highlighted to give a snapshot of this sector.

You can also use the Next Step website to find out about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many more.