7 Essential Retail Skills of Top Sales Associates

Let’s talk about the retailing skills that help sales associates boost revenue, create loyal customers, and grow their retail business.

man paying at the cashier

Sales associates are important to every retail business; they’re the boots-on-the-ground component of your brand.

Good sales associates merchandise and sell your products, educate your customers, increase your sales, and deliver an outstanding customer shopping experience. They also help create loyal customers and brand advocates: 42% of internet users in the U.S. listed “great customer service” as something that would motivate them to promote a brand online.

So, what makes up a good sales associate? The very best associates possess — or are willing to learn — certain retail skills. 

Whether you’re a retail store owner or manager looking to hire new associates, or you’re an aspiring associate yourself, you should recognize the skills that make for successful associates.

What are Retailing Skills?

Retail skills are the skills and competencies that help sales associates sell products and services to customers. These skills — combined with natural personality, attitude, and experience — can help sales associates build relationships with customers and increase store revenue. They’re also valuable skills and characteristics to have for other jobs and opportunities later in life.

(Retailing skills are also applicable beyond the role of a sales associate — they also come in handy for cashiers, merchandise buyers, store managers, and store owners).

7 Best Retail Skills For Sales Associates

Let’s unpack the retail skills that make for amazing sales associates. It’s important to note that some of these skills can come naturally to retail workers while others may need to be taught or learned on the job. As long as your associates are teachable and willing to learn, these skills can significantly improve their retail job performance — and your business. 

(These skills and competencies have been inspired by real sales associate job listings.)

1. A Customer-First Mindset

If sales associates are the face of your business, customers are the lifeblood. A customer-first mindset is a highly valuable retail skill for every employee that works at your store — not just associates.

A customer-first mindset helps retail employees serve and empathize with customers by greeting them, helping them find what they need, and providing excellent customer service. Not only does this skill build trust and camaraderie between your associates and employees, but it also helps retain loyal customers who may advocate for your brand and help grow your business.

2. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Good communication skills — including speaking clearly, kindly, and with patience — are vital in any professional role, especially those in the retail sector. To do their jobs effectively, sales associates must be able to communicate with your customers, coworkers, buyers, and managers. Interpersonal skills also include patience, friendliness, and active listening — a critical skill when learning about and solving customer needs and problems.

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3. Attention to Detail

Retail stores have many moving parts, and sales associates are responsible for managing a lot of details in a fast-paced environment. These details include doing inventory, stocking and merchandising products, checking out customers, and providing exact change. Associates should pay close attention to detail to best serve customers, make sales, and support your business.

4. Time Management

Time management is another critical retailing skill for sales associates. Between helping multiple customers, checking inventory, processing sales, and managing products, your sales associates should have good time management, multi-task, and prioritize certain duties within a busy schedule.

5. Sales and Business Knowledge

Sales associates aren’t just responsible for running your retail store; they’re also responsible for making sales and growing your business. Highly effective associates understand sales skills and techniques that help them work with customers to find products they like and want to buy.

Depending on your associates’ expertise and job function, this retail skill may also include general business knowledge, such as business operations, inventory and purchasing, payroll, retail management, and more.

6. Product Knowledge and Company Expertise

The very best retail workers are experts in your business. As the face of your store, they can answer any questions or concerns regarding your brand. Good sales associates are willing to learn about your company, products, and the types of customers who purchase them. They also recognize that the retail industry is ever-changing, and they stay on top of trends so to best serve your customers.

7. Technological Savvy

In today’s digital retail world, technological know-how is a more important skill than ever before. Sales associates and other retail workers should understand how to use computers and tablets, point-of-sale (POS) systems, and any other software programs used to grow your business (like Endear).

Omnichannel businesses may also enable their staff to process online sales, send back-ordered stock directly to customers’ homes, and personally market to customers; with efficient training, associates should know how to perform these functions, too. Not only can a lack of technical knowledge cause mistakes and inaccuracies, it can also slow down the checkout or customer service process — and lose customers as a result. 

Retail skills are the skills and competencies that help your sales associates merchandise and sell your products, educate your customers, increase your sales, and deliver an outstanding customer shopping experience. 

As the boots-on-the-ground component of your brand, no one knows your customers like your associates do. In conjunction with these retailing skills, Endear can give them the power to market your stores, reach their sales goals, and grow your business.