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Retail Sector Work Placements

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Helping you find a career in Retail Sector

Retail is everywhere, so it’s unsurprising it employs almost 3 million people. We have to buy our food, clothes and medicine when we’re sick, but the industry stretches far further than the physical shops and the employees in them. There are logistics, technology, finance and marketing departments in head offices that ensure retail businesses run smoothly.

Although you must be proficient in English and Maths, the customer service roles do not typically require any formal education. What is most important is your communication and interpersonal skills because this industry survives by making the customer experience the best that it can be – whether that be digital, or in person.

The digital revolution in retail has opened up a whole new range of opportunities as brands are investing in e-commerce, experimenting with technology and demanding a strong social media presence. If you love tech and retail, this could be the perfect time for you to look for opportunities in this industry.

There are a variety of formal graduate schemes within retail that’ll equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills for a fruitful career within this industry. However, it’s also an industry that rewards loyalty and dedication. It is not uncommon for those who start out part-time on a Saturday job to be promoted up to a store manager.

You don’t necessarily have to work in a store to be in retail. A huge range of skills are needed in a head office and, if you’re doing a placement, this could be where your work is based.

The roles within head offices vary. You could have visual merchandisers, who are concerned with the designs or stores working alongside sales forecasters who need to be numerical and analytical. A few areas you could work in within head office include:

  • Store Operations

  • Human Resources / Training

  • Finance and Administration

  • Buying

  • Customer Contact Centres

  • Marketing

  • Logistics

  • Information Technology (IT)

Skills & interests required for a career in Retail Sector
Retail is an extremely fast-paced industry, so you need to be organised and prepared to be on your feet all day if your role is store based. The skills that you need will largely depend upon the role that you are in, but in general the following will benefit you:
  • Personable

  • Dedicated

  • Commercial awareness

  • Customer-focused

  • Calm under pressure

  • Multi-tasking

  • Positivity

  • Proactivity

You will also need to be savvy about the brand you are working for, so make sure that you do your research!
What Retail Sector work experience do you need?
The best work experience you can get for a career in retail is actually working in a store. Even for Head Office roles and work placements, experience in a store will be looked upon favourably – especially if you have worked in the specific store that you’re looking to move into the head office of.

Many big retail brands, such as Tesco, Boots, L’Oreal and Sainsburys also offer summer internships within different areas of retail that would provide good work experience.

However, anything that involves customer service, or working within a team towards a shared goal, will benefit you.

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