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

Retail jobs | Shopify Retail blog

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 congrats on the milestone! Next up? Knowing what position to fill.

“My focus would be on revenue-generating roles first,” Intuit’s Leslie Barber told Mashable. Using her advice as a starting point, also consider what your business’ specific needs are, as each type of retail business is unique and may require distinct roles be hired for first.

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 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.

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But before you dive into creating your job listing, ensure you have a good understanding of what to hire for and when. Below, find the most common retail jobs — organized by which positions to generally hire for first as your retail business scales — their job descriptions, required skills, and when to add that position to your team.

Common Retail Jobs and Their Descriptions

Retail jobs | Shopify Retail blogAgain, there’s not a one-size-fits-all job hierarchy for every retail business, but sticking to this general order will get you on your way to hiring smartly as you scale your retail business.

1. Sales Associate

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.

A sales associate is also responsible for maintaining the store’s clean and organized appearance, restocking items, and checking out customers. Generally speaking, a sales associate is who can help to increase your sales.

Skills needed:

  • Clearly and effectively communicate with customers
  • Work as a team player
  • Quick and effective problem-solving skills
  • Ability to adapt and learn quickly
  • Organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Experience with point-of-sale systems
  • Basic mathematics and financial knowledge

How to know you need one: 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. Cashier

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 cashier helps to expedite the purchasing process, making it as quick and seamless as possible for your customers.

They’re 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 rewards programs or other miscellaneous items — right before the customer checks out.

Skills needed:

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

How to know you need one: Thomas Holt, the Vice President of Development at Hatchbuck, 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 don’t want to make it difficult for customers to purchase products they desire — or for you to make money — so hiring a cashier will only help make the customer experience more positive for all parties involved.

3. Customer Service Representative

A customer service representative (CSR) might sound similar to a sales associate, but each job has distinct duties. Here’s an easy way to remember: A sales associate works on the floor, while a CSR works over the phone or email.

A CSR is responsible for answering all customer inquiries — whether it’s a concern, product question, or even a negative review. CSRs complete their responsibilities in accordance with your retail company’s policies to resolve the customer’s issues or concerns and ensure that the customer’s experience remains — or becomes — a positive one. Often times, a CSR is doing damage control in order improve a customer’s experience.

Skills needed:

  • 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 point-of-sale systems

How to know you need one: Some retail stores may never need a customer service representative, but if you’re seeing an influx of emails and calls — especially if your products are available online — it’s worthwhile to consider if you can’t seem to catch up.

4. Visual Merchandiser

Retail jobs, visual merchandiser || Shopify Retail blogIf you’ve ever envied a great, eye-catching floor display, a visual merchandiser was likely responsible. Their job is to help ensure the best products in your store are highlighted in strategic ways and in specific parts of your store. They possess the knowledge to know what products go where and with what, along with how to prompt sales at specific parts of the store.

And it doesn’t stop there. A great visual merchandiser can even help with promotions and other marketing campaigns when it comes to staging product photos. They can also help to build relationships with your suppliers.

Skills needed:

  • Previous experience with visual merchandising 
  • Experience developing floor display strategies
  • 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 physical workload
  • Ability to work as a team player and independently
  • Experience applying sales numbers to floor layout plans

How to know you need one: If you usually don’t have an eye for design and/or see your store not living up to its full potential, invest in a visual merchandiser to help give your store the facelift it deserves.

5. Buyer

A buyer does so much more than simply purchase the products in your store. This retail job is responsible for doing the necessary research to determine exactly what products you should put on your shelves (or online), and finding the best possible price for you as the retail owner. A buyer can also be responsible for establishing relationships with vendors, manufacturers, and other companies to continue to get the best deals for your store.

Skills needed:

  • Experience making negotiations
  • 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

How to know you need one: 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.

6. Store Manager

The responsibilities of a store manager should be tailored to your specific business’ needs, but generally speaking, this retail job handles a lot of what you might have started out doing as the business owner — from maintaining day-to-day tasks and managing employees and employee schedules to understanding sales trends and, well, everything in between.

The store manager may also be in charge of budgeting, store requirements (such as safety and other operational needs), implementing company policies and procedures, providing customer assistance, and more. The bottom line? The 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.

Skills needed:

  • 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

How to know you need one: 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 — opening up the ability for you to focus on other areas of the business.

7. Assistant Store Manager

An assistant store manager, of course, has similar duties to the store manager, but when you add in this retail job to our organization chart, they generally provide support for day-to-day tasks along with taking 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.

Skills needed:

  • 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

How to know you need one: This one is pretty simple. If your store manager needs help with their tasks, you’re ready to add an assistant store manager to the team.

8. Inventory Control Specialist

A great addition to your management team is an inventory control specialist. The responsibilities of this retail job 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.

The duties of an inventory control specialist, again, should be specific to what your retail business needs. So keep in mind that the ask for the job can be as little or as much as your company demands.


  • 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 control software

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

💡 PRO TIP: As your brand grows, so does the need to hire staff in specialized roles. Use Shopify POS staff roles and permissions to limit what staff can do without manager approval in your point of sale system—like modifying inventory levels, changing a product’s price, or applying discounts to a sale.

Retail Jobs: Moving Forward With the Hiring Process

Now that you have a good understanding of what the most common retail jobs are, what they’re responsible for, and how to know you’re ready for one in your scaling retail business, it’s time to make that job listing. Use this information on retail jobs as a guide, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect applicant.

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