A shop assistant's primary role centres on promoting new products to potential buyers. Shop assistants are the public representatives of a company, and the service they provide to customers can greatly determine the sales level of a shop or business. Shop assistants work in a variety of businesses across the retail sector.
The shop assistants' responsibilities remain relatively similar regardless of the type of store that employs them. The most important aspect of a shop assistant's role involves determining customers' needs and doing everything within their power to service them. This role will typically include advising a customer on the colour, size or applicability of a given product and suggesting possible alternatives if the store cannot immediately meet a customer's needs.
Shop assistants should have a sound working knowledge of the products they sell and be adept at communicating the information to the customer. Product knowledge is usually not very demanding in clothing or toy shops, but a shop assistant could require specialist experience if employed in an electronics store or a furniture shop.
On a day-to-day level, shop assistants are responsible for fielding telephone inquiries from the general public, pricing goods on shelves, keeping stock levels at optimum levels and unpacking and storing new deliveries in an appropriate fashion. They also perform minor cleaning duties such as picking up discarded receipts or tidying up messy displays. Shop assistants operate the store till and require proficiency in processing credit card transactions. As observed on the Prospects website, a store may require shop assistants to meet specific sales targets.
Shop assistants often deal with queries relating to unavailable products and will be expected to contact suppliers to make an order to redeem stocks if necessary. As observed on the Dundee Contemporary Arts website, shop assistants need to have excellent customer service skills as customers will often make inquiries in an aggressive manner. Shop assistants need to display patience and understanding and ensure they do not lose control of their temper.
Due to the extensive opening hours of many retail stores, shop assistants often work long hours and weekends. As indicated on the My Career Choice website, working environments can often become frenetic during busy shopping times, so a shop assistant will need to display good mental and physical stamina to cope with the stress. As they are the public face of the store, shop assistants are usually expected to have a neat and pleasant appearance and possess good hygiene standards. Large tattoos and visible piercings may lessen your chances of employment at many large department stores. Various opportunities for promotion typically exist, although these are usually more extensive in nationwide stores.