Shop Tactics!

By J&C Team

There’s more to working in retail than standing behind a till. Here are some exciting options in this thriving sector!

Working in retail is a service role, but there are a lot more people behind the scenes than you may realise. As well as serving shoppers directly, many more talents are needed to run a busy and successful store.

Sales Adviser

Working as a sales adviser is a great start to a career in retail as it will give you valuable skills and experience. The role can vary from manning a till to giving advice about products. Your main task is to serve customers and make sure they’re happy, so great communication skills are key.

Many stores are now open 12 hours a day or more, so shift work is common. More than half the people in this sector are part-time, and flexible hours mean students and parents can find work to fit in around other commitments. Another benefit is the staff discounts some stores offer their employees.

How much can I earn? Salaries start around the minimum wage and increase with experience; you may also earn commission and bonuses based on sales figures.

Retail Manager

The role here is to run a store – physical or online – as efficiently and as profitably as possible. Traditional store managers need experience of looking after a team of sales advisers. Managers are responsible for inspiring their team to give the best customer service and ensure budgets are adhered to and sales targets are met.

Other aspects of the role include training and development, sales data analysis, organising promotions and interpreting trends. E-commerce managers need excellent technical skills and platform/database knowledge, including search engine optimisation and analytics. Such a role usually requires a technical degree in business, finance, maths, IT or analytics.

How much can I earn? £23,500, rising to £32,000 with experience.


People in finance are responsible for store takings, processing online orders or paying suppliers. They also determine budgets, look at cash flows and analyse profit margins and may be involved in payroll, ensuring all the staff are paid and taxed correctly and on time.

How much can I earn? Starting salaries are in the region of £25,000, rising to £40,000 for managerial roles.

Buying and Merchandising

If you love shopping, the role of buyer will sound like heaven, as this is the person who sources and supplies all the goods on sale in a particular store. Buyers are experts at following trends and analysing customer buying habits, working out which products are the most profitable. Applicants usually need a qualification in business or retail, although it is possible to work your way up from the shop floor.

Merchandisers work alongside buyers and are responsible for the specifics – how many of a certain product will be sold in a certain store and for how long, for example. They monitor profit margins by checking stock, and adapt orders to ensure maximum profits for the business.

How much can I earn? Junior buying roles start at £18,000, rising to between £35,000 and £70,000 with experience. The average salary for a merchandiser is £32,000.

Product Design & Development

The creative side of the sector, designers are involved in coming up with product ideas, fashion collections, packaging and point of sale (POS) displays. You will need an art-based degree such as graphic design or fashion, and have a decent understanding of market trends and what will make something sell.

How much can I earn? On average, around £23,000 for designers rising with experience, while developers start on £32,000 rising to £52,000.

Customer Service Assistant

When members of the public want to ask questions, praise or complain, they contact customer services. This role is often based in a call centre rather than the shop itself. The onus is on supporting customers and dealing with problems as efficiently as possible, so the caller is left with a positive impression of the company.

How much can I earn? The starting salary is usually upwards of the national minimum or living wage. Customer service management roles pay from £18,000 for trainees up to and beyond £45,000.

Warehouse Manager

As more people shop online and expect goods to be delivered quickly and on time, more jobs are being generated at the front of the supply chain: the warehouse. Managers oversee the receiving of goods, storage and dispatch. They are not only responsible for staffing levels and customer satisfaction, but also health and safety and security. 

How much can I earn? Salaries for graduate-training schemes in warehouse management range from £18,000 to £25,000, while roles that aren’t graduate-related start around £17,000 to £20,000. Experienced senior warehouse managers can expect to earn more than £40,000.