Retail Jobs: 8 Common Retail Positions, Their Duties, and Who to Hire First

retail jobs retail positions

Are you a retail business owner who’s decided it’s time to hire their first employee? If so, you’ve made it over the first hurdle—and congratulations on the milestone! 

Next up? Knowing what position to fill. 

You know you need help, but where? How? First consider what retail jobs would generate revenue for your business. Also, consider your business’s specific needs.

For example, if you’re consistently facing long lines at the register, consider hiring a cashier first. If you have too many customers to help by yourself, you likely need a sales associate on the floor. 

Understanding what your business needs, while keeping revenue-generating roles in mind, will help you make the right decision.

But before you dive into creating your job listing, you need a solid understanding of what to hire for and when

In this guide, we discuss the most common jobs in retail, their job descriptions, required retail skills, and when to add that position to your team. Note that these retail positions are listed by which positions to generally hire first as your retail business scales.

Retail positions and job descriptions

There’s not a one-size-fits-all job hierarchy for every retail business. However, following this general order will help you hire smartly as you scale.

1. Sales associates

With revenue as your main priority, hiring a sales associate is a great first role to fill for your scaling business.  

A sales associate ensures customers know someone’s available to help if they need anything, from answering product questions to showing them a product that meets their needs—thus helping increase your sales. If your retail business offers perks like appointment shopping or local pickup, a sales associate can also help manage those experiences.

Sales associates are also responsible for maintaining your store’s clean and organized appearance, setting up product displays, restocking items, and checking out customers (if you don’t also have a cashier). 

Sales associate skills

  • Clear and effective communicate with customers
  • Collaboration with other associates and team members
  • Quick and effective problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills
  • Ability to adapt and learn quickly
  • Organization and attention to detail
  • Experience with POS systems
  • Basic mathematics and financial knowledge

When to hire a sales associate

If you notice customers in your store seeking help that isn’t readily available and you’re stretched too thin to fill the role yourself, you’re likely ready to hire a sales associate.

2. Cashiers

A cashier might seem like a simple job title, but the position can provide great value to your retail business if you’re experiencing an influx of customers each day. A well-trained cashier helps to expedite the purchasing process, making it as quick and seamless as possible for your customers.

Cashiers are responsible for processing purchases and transactions, welcoming customers once they walk into the door, assisting with returns and exchanges, answering the phone, and promoting any add-ons (like point of purchase displays or rewards programs) right before the customer checks out.

Cashier skills

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Experience with point-of-sale systems and cash handling
  • Organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Quick and effective problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills
  • Basic mathematics and financial knowledge

When to hire a cashier

Thomas Holt, the VP of Product Development at Benchmark brings up a valid scenario when it comes to long checkout lines: “How many times have you abandoned a cart full because the line was long and the wait irritated you?”

Naturally, you want to avoid making it difficult for customers to purchase products they desire — and for you to make money — so hiring a cashier can help improve your customer experience and revenue.


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3. Customer service representatives

The job of a customer service representative (CSR) might sound similar to that of a sales associate, but each job has distinct duties. A sales associate tends to work on the floor, while a CSR works over the phone or email.

A CSR is responsible for answering all customer inquiries, such as purchase concerns, product questions, or even negative reviews. According to your retail company policies, CSRs work to resolve customers’ complaints, improve customer experience, and build customer loyalty.

Customer service representative skills

  • Excellent people and communication skills
  • Quick and effective problem-solving skills
  • Great energy and infective enthusiasm
  • Organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work as a team player and independently
  • Basic computer skills and familiarity with POS systems and customer service technology

When to hire a customer service representative

Some retail stores may never need a customer service representative, but if you’re seeing an influx of emails and calls, especially if you sell products both online and offline, it’s worthwhile to look into hiring a CSR.

4. Visual merchandisers

If you’ve ever envied an eye-catching product or window display, a visual merchandiser was likely responsible. Their job is to highlight and display your products in strategic ways to elevate sales and customer experience. They know where products belong and why, along with how to leverage elements of design and buyer psychology to prompt sales across your entire store.

A great visual merchandiser can also help with new product launches, promotions, and other marketing campaigns when it comes to staging product photos and encouraging user-generated content via content creation studios. Lastly, they can also help to build relationships with your suppliers (if you don’t also have a buyer).

Visual merchandiser skills

  • Previous experience with visual merchandising 
  • Experience developing floor display strategies and planograms
  • Possesses the ability to think creatively and strategically
  • Must meet deadlines and handle multiple tasks simultaneously
  • Experience working with suppliers and manufacturers
  • Ability to handle a physical workload
  • Ability to work as a team player and independently
  • Experience applying sales numbers to floor layout plans

When to hire a visual merchandiser

If you usually don’t have an eye for design and/or don’t see your store living up to its full potential, invest in a visual merchandiser to help give your store the facelift it deserves. Similarly, if you’re moving into a new retail store location, consider chatting with a visual merchandiser to understand how to adapt to your new space.

Free Guide: Interview Questions for Hiring Retail Employees

Hiring competent retail employees is becoming increasingly challenging. Use this guide to ask the right questions during the interview process to ensure you hire the right people for your store.

5. Buyers

A buyer does so much more than simply purchase your retail products. This retail job is responsible for doing the necessary research to determine exactly what products you should put on your shelves (or online) and locate the best possible price for you as the retail owner. 

A buyer is also responsible for establishing relationships with vendors, manufacturers, and other companies to get the best deals for your store—and products for your customers.

Buyer skills

  • Experience negotiating and managing contracts
  • Ability to effectively research, evaluate, and analyze products based on a variety of factors such as price and quality
  • Experience working with suppliers and vendors
  • Organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Experience maintaining and tracking purchase orders and inventory levels

When to hire a buyer

If you’ve found yourself lacking the resources to find the best deals on products or needing help to revamp the products you’re offering in-store, look to a buyer to help you save money and provide the best products to your customers.

💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can assign staff different roles and permissions to set boundaries on what store associates can do when logged into your POS without manager—like changing a product’s price or applying a custom discount to a sale.

Retail management jobs

6. Store managers

The specific responsibilities of a retail store manager should be tailored to your business’s needs, but generally speaking, this retail position handles a lot of what you might have started out doing as the business owner. This may include maintaining day-to-day tasks, managing employee schedules, training new employees, understanding sales trends, and marketing your store.

Your store manager may also be in charge of budgeting, payroll, store requirements (such as safety and other operational needs), implementing company policies and procedures, providing customer assistance, and more. All in all, your store manager needs to be responsible for filling your day-to-day role, so it’s important to find someone you trust and with the necessary skills and experience.

Store manager skills

  • Experience leading a team within a retail setting
  • Excellent problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills
  • Proven ability to set and achieve financial and business objectives
  • Experience enforcing and maintaining company policies and procedures
  • Firm understanding of sales, promotions, trends, retail markets, and merchandising
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Experience creating and maintaining employee scheduling

When to hire a store manager

Once you’ve hired a few employees to handle a variety of tasks, you might find yourself ready to have a manager step in to oversee the day-to-day. This can also open up your schedule to focus on other areas of the business, such as opening a pop-up store in a new location.

7. Assistant store managers

An assistant store manager shares some duties with the store manager, but they generally provide support for day-to-day tasks and take over most of the employee-related responsibilities like management and scheduling. 

An assistant store manager might also be likely to first handle any elevated customer concerns or questions before handing them over to your store manager.

Assistant store manager skills

  • Experience managing a team within a retail setting
  • Problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills
  • Experience achieving financial and business objectives
  • Experience enforcing and maintaining company policies and procedures
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Experience creating and maintaining employee scheduling

When to hire an assistant store manager

If your store manager needs help with their tasks and your retail team continues to grow, you’re ready to add an assistant store manager to the team.

8. Inventory control specialists

An inventory control specialist is a great addition to your retail management team. The responsibilities of this retail position include preventing loss, tracking and maintaining inventory, implementing procedures to control costs, controlling the ebb and flow of inventory, creating reports as it relates to defects, demand, and quantity, and ensuring received products are accurate and up to company standards.

Like the other roles in this list, the duties of an inventory control specialist should be subjective to what your retail business needs. The scope for this job can be as little or as much as your company demands.

Inventory control specialist skills

  • Proven experience controlling inventory within a retail setting
  • Experience creating, analyzing, and maintaining reports
  • Experience creating and maintaining inventory procedures
  • Proven ability to increase or maintain a company’s profits through inventory control
  • Experience in a management role
  • Ability to think strategically and analytically
  • Familiarity and experience working with an inventory management and control software

When to hire an inventory control specialist

An inventory control specialist may be the last missing piece to your scaling retail business, especially if the inventory tasks become more than what your buyer can handle with their other day-to-day responsibilities.

Retail jobs: Moving forward with the hiring process

We’ve covered the common retail positions, their responsibilities and desired skills, and when to hire them. Now it’s time to make that job listing and hiring plan

Bookmark this guide on retail jobs and reference it as your retail business grows. You’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect applicant in no time.


Manage growing retail teams with Shopify POS

Shopify POS has built-in tools to support your retail team’s growth. Add unlimited staff accounts, and set roles and permissions to manage the features your staff can use and the information they can view in just a few clicks.