Cover letters are used alongside resumes to apply for a variety of jobs, and the retail industry is no exception. Whether you are applying for a managerial position or looking for a part-time seasonal job, it's important to make your cover letter stand out from the competition.
The cover letter is your first impression and it needs to be a good one. You need to let the hiring manager know who you are and why you are the perfect person for the job. The better your cover letter, the better your chances of getting an interview.
Tips for Writing a Retail Cover Letter
When you are writing a cover letter for a customer service or retail position, take the time to make sure your letter properly displays your best qualities in the area of customer service. Include any past experience and achievements, particularly those that relate specifically to the open position.
Speak directly to the job posting. Highlight examples of how your background is a good match for the specific requirements noted in the job description. This tells the hiring manager that you took the time to research their store, understand exactly what they're looking for, and can demonstrate that you have these skills.
Include soft skills. If you do not have prior work experience in retail or customer service, ask yourself if you have any of these soft skills, such as listening skills, necessary for success in this line of work.
For example, the best retail employees often have an upbeat personality, even in the face of frustrated customers. Even if the job description doesn't specifically note this characteristic, it's certainly something relevant to mention.
Provide quantified achievements. For any retail sales or service role, hiring managers will be interested in whether you have a track record of success in landing sales or earning high customer service ratings. If so, definitely mention your previous retail achievements, quantifying these with dollar figures, numbers, or percentages.
How to Analyze a Retail / Customer Service Job Posting
Before you write your cover letter, closely analyze the job posting and highlight or list the most significant qualifications or skills it asks for. Then, try to incorporate these “keyword phrases” into your cover letter as well as your resume.
This is important to do – especially if you are applying online – because many employers now use automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) to review the first round of submissions they receive. These systems are programmed to rank applications based on the positioning and number of times a keyword is used. The more of these keywords you use in your cover letter and resume, the more likely you will be to land an in-person job interview.
Your best guide to knowing which of these keywords to use is the posting for the job you’re applying for.
For example, here is a sample retail job posting, with the most important keywords highlighted in boldface.
Review the “Required Qualifications” and “Preferred Qualifications” sections of job ads to identify the best retail / customer service keywords to use in your cover letter.
Sample Retail Sales Associate Posting (advertised by Classy Clothing Company)
As a retail sales associate at Classy Clothing Company, your challenge will be to exemplify our brand: classic tailoring for the discerning customer. As the face of our company, it will be your job to engage customers and inspire them to adopt our products and services.
We are looking for positive and personable associates who already love our products and can thus promote them to our clients with enthusiasm and professionalism. If you are charismatic, outgoing, and dedicated to providing first-class customer shopping experiences, we’d love to talk with you about the career opportunities we offer.
Job Responsibilities: Greet store customers and build their brand awareness through cheerful consultative dialogues. Build your product knowledge so you can successfully upsell related product options. Respond to customer inquiries, discern individual preferences, and calmly handle escalated product requests and service issues. Merchandise our products creatively and maintain our store premises. Participate in weekly team meetings; be aware of current sales, promotions, and production goals.
Job Skills & Qualifications
Required Qualifications: High school diploma or GED. Strong oral communication and active listening skills. Reliability and willingness to work overnight or weekend shifts.
Preferred Qualifications: Experience working in sales and customer service. Bilingual in Spanish a plus.
You can see that important keywords for a retail job include words like “retail sales associate,” “customer service,” “brand awareness,” “merchandise,” “customer engagement,” “upsell,” “product knowledge,” “oral communication,” and “listening skills.” Be sure to use these in the text of your cover letter.
Retail Sales Associate Cover Letter Sample
Here’s an example of how to write a cover letter targeted to the “Classy Clothing Company’s” job posting. Note how it incorporates keywords, focuses on aligning the candidate’s skills to the specific requirements requested in the ad, incorporates soft skills, and includes quantifiable achievements.
Download the retail cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Microsoft Word) and see below for more examples.
Retail Sales Associate Cover Letter Sample (Text Version)
123 Center Street, Fresno, CA 93650
November 11, 2019
Ms. Jean Jones
Classy Clothing Company
123 Sandy Point Rd.
Fresno, CA 93650
Dear Ms. Jones:
It was with much interest that I read your advertisement for a Retail Sales Associate on Craigslist. As an experienced associate with five years’ experience creating pleasant shopping experiences for the customers of “Casual Classics,” an upscale clothing boutique, I can bring to you rich product knowledge, merchandising talents, and an enthusiasm for fashion that will ensure my success in becoming a productive advocate for your wonderful “classic tailoring for the discerning customer” brand.
As a firm believer in designer Edith Head’s credo, "You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it,” I enjoy engaging my customers in consultative dialogues not only to identify their style preferences, but to learn about *why* they are shopping for specific items. Once I identify their needs, it’s easy to build brand awareness and upsell the articles that will complete their ensembles and help them feel terrific when they look in the mirror. My additional qualifications for this job include:
- A deep knowledge of fashion industry trends and brands, with a proactive stance in learning about rising designers.
- A consistent track record of achieving “100%” on customer service satisfaction surveys.
- Keyholder responsibilities for the #1-ranked store in the “Casual Classics” franchise in southern California.
- Outgoing and charismatic communications and listening skills complemented by professionalism in addressing customer inquiries, product requests, and service issues.
- Bilingual command of English and Spanish.
As a sales associate for a highly successful boutique, I understand the importance of reliability, flexibility, and a strong work ethic, and am available to work overtime and on weekends to help ensure the success of Classy Clothing Company’s Fresno location.
Might we please set up an appointment for a personal interview? I would love to learn more about your store operations, and am eager to explore how I could best contribute to your strategic sales initiatives. Thank you for your time and consideration.
How to Use These Additional Examples
Review the additional retail and customer service cover letter examples below for inspiration. Be sure to personalize your letter and explain how your skills correlate to the criteria listed in the job posting.
Here's how to use these customer service cover letter examples:
- Read through the letter that most closely matches the job title you are applying for.
- Take notice of how the letter is structured and what details are included.
- Write your own letter, including details about your own background, and reference the job description's requirements.
Retail Management Cover Letter Example
Perhaps you are ready to move into a managerial position or you found a listing for a store manager position that would be an upgrade from your current position. In either case, your cover letter needs to demonstrate why you are management material and what you can bring to the store in order to persuade hiring managers to read that amazing resume you worked so hard on.
More Cover Letters for Retail Positions
Because so many job applications are being submitted online, it's important to stand out from the crowd by submitting a cover letter. Competition for retail positions is tough, and a well-crafted cover letter shows your enthusiasm for the position, attention to detail, and allows you to expand upon personal traits that speak to your customer service skills.
When You're Seeking a Promotion
There is always room for advancement in the world of retail. Vying for promotion is another case in which a cover letter can make a difference. Use these templates when an opportunity presents itself and remind your boss of everything that makes you the right candidate for the job.
You can use these templates to get a feel for the appropriate cover letter format and layout and then personalize your letter to fit your needs.