Retail Skills List and Examples

Woman designing front window of store
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Retail skills are those related to selling products to consumers. Retail skills are required for a variety of retail jobs, including cashier, sales associate, retail associate, retail buyer, retail manager, retail sales, merchandiser, store manager, buyer, and more.

Someone working in retail needs a variety of hard and soft skills: They need to be good with numbers, interact well with others, and persuade people to make purchases.

Read below for information on the skills required for most retail positions.

How to Use Skills Lists

You can use the skill words listed below as you search for jobs. For example, apply the terms in your resume, especially in the description of your work history. You can also incorporate them into your cover letter. Mention one or two of the skills mentioned here, and give specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits at work.

You can also use these words in your interview. Keep the top skills listed here in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've exemplified each. Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer. Also, review our lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Top 8 Retail Skills

Illustration by Ashley DeLeon. © The Balance, 2018

1. Attention to Detail
Retail workers need to focus on detail, whether it is making sure a customer receives the exact change, items in the store are fully stocked, or the clothing on display is laid out perfectly. An eye for detail is a critical skill when trying to attract customers to a product. Other retail skills and tasks related to an attention to detail include:

  • Inventory
  • Organization
  • Organizing Displays
  • Stock Checking
  • Stocking and Restocking shelves
  • Time Management
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Window Displays

2. Business Awareness
Business awareness means having an understanding of how a company or industry operates. Retail workers need to really understand the company they work for, the products they sell, and the types of customers who purchase their products.

This kind of business skill makes strong retail employees. Other related skills necessary for retail workers are:

  • Acquiring a thorough knowledge of products
  • Awareness of trends
  • Business Awareness
  • Loss Prevention
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Merchandise Control
  • Merchandising
  • Operations
  • Ordering
  • Payroll
  • Product Knowledge
  • Product Rotation
  • Product Sourcing
  • Purchasing
  • Receiving
  • Shipping

3. Communication
Communication skills are important for nearly every retail position. People in retail need to be able to speak with customers, buyers, other employees, and employers. Part of communication means speaking clearly and effectively with people.

Another important part of communication is listening. This is especially important when working with customers. You need to be able to listen to what a customer wants or needs and help him or her as best you can. Other important communication skills for retail workers include:

  • Answering Customer Questions
  • Greet Customers
  • Communicating with Other Stores or Buyers
  • Explaining Products to Customers
  • Listening to Customer Complaints
  • Order Taking

4. Customer Service
Customer service skills are important for almost all retail positions. Retail associates in particular need to be positive, friendly, and helpful with customers, helping them make purchases and deal with any issues. Below are specific customer service skills needed in retail:

  • Customer-First Mindset
  • Customer Relations
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Customer Service
  • Greeting Customers
  • Listening to and Solving Customer Complaints
  • Recommending Products to Customers

5. Information Technology (IT)
Many retail jobs will include some use of IT, so it is important that you demonstrate some skill in IT when you apply for a job in retail. You might work an electronic register or sale system as a retailer. You might also use a management information system to analyze purchasing and other consumer trends. No matter what your job, IT will likely play an important role. IT skills needed in retail include:

6. Interpersonal Skills
Working in retail involves constantly interacting with others, including customers, colleagues, employers, and other buyers. People in retail need to put on a friendly face, and be patient with frustrated customers. Below are specific interpersonal skills needed in retail:

7. Numeracy
Numeracy is another important skill in retail. You need to be able to make sense of numbers in order to calculate prices, add up discounts, make change for customers, count inventory, and more. You also may need to calculate sales values or estimate stock needed based on trends in consumer data. Related numeracy skills include:

  • Cash Accountability
  • Cash Handling
  • Cash Management
  • Check Approval
  • Check Processing
  • Credit
  • Credit Approval
  • Credit Cards
  • Credit Management
  • Inventory
  • Math Skills
  • Money Handling
  • Price Markdowns
  • Pricing

8. Selling Skills
Of course, to be a good retailer, you need to be able to sell products. Retail workers must be persuasive and persistent with customers, convincing them that certain products are worth purchasing. They have to be able to clearly explain products, and market them to customers. Related selling skills include:

  • Achieve Sales Goals
  • Advising Shoppers
  • Arranging Product Displays
  • Buying
  • Closeouts
  • Convert Shoppers into Loyal Customers
  • Conveying Product Features and Benefits
  • Demonstrate Products
  • Emphasizing Promotional Items to Customers
  • Encouraging Customers to Consider Accessories
  • Encouraging Use of Store Credit Card
  • Establishing a Quick Rapport with Customers
  • Exceed Sales Goals
  • Explain the Benefits of Merchandise
  • Frequent Shopper Programs
  • Goal Oriented
  • Helping Customers Locate Merchandise
  • Persistence
  • Persuasion
  • Promoting Brand Loyalty Programs
  • Recommending Suitable Items for Purchase
  • Sales
  • Suggesting Alternative Items When Products Aren't Available

More Retail Skills

Retail Buyer 
In addition to the skills listed above, these are some of the skills required for a retail buyer position.

Aiding in the Development of Product Specifications

  • Analyzing past Product Performance
  • Aiding in the Development of Product Specifications
  • Analyzing Retail Sales Patterns
  • Assessing Category Trends
  • Assessing Customer Preferences
  • Assessing the Impact of Buying Decisions on Brand Identity
  • Attend Trade Shows
  • Building relationships with suppliers
  • Collaboration with Product Specialists and Brand Teams
  • Conducting Comparative Evaluations of Suppliers
  • Conducting Visits with Vendors at Trade Shows, Market Events’ and Vendor Facilities
  • Determining Product Carryover
  • Develop and Track Forecasts
  • Devising Pricing Strategy
  • Disseminating Product Information
  • Estimating Appropriate Quantities of Items for Purchase
  • Evaluating the Competition
  • Evaluating the Presentation of Products in Catalogs and Websites
  • Fashion Sense
  • Forecasting Sales
  • Identifying Brands
  • Learning and Utilizing Merchant Data Systems
  • Monitoring Progress Towards Key Performance Indicators
  • Negotiating Purchase Agreements
  • Obtain Quotes
  • Partnering with Merchandise Planners to Control Inventory
  • Plan Promotions
  • Planning Proper Assortment of Products
  • Product Analysis
  • Product Evaluation
  • Product Selection
  • Product Styling
  • Recommending In-Season Sales and Liquidations
  • Retail Mathematics
  • Reviewing Data on Item Returns
  • Routing Merchandise to Retail Outlets Based on Geography and Demographics
  • Search for Vendors
  • Select Vendors
  • Selecting Sampling Vendors
  • Timing the Introduction of New Lines

Retail Manager
In addition to the general skills listed above, these are job-specific skills required for retail manager positions

  • Addressing Employee Performance Issues Promptly
  • Analyzing Sales Reports
  • Assessing Needs for Staff Training
  • Budgeting
  • Controlling Expenses
  • Controlling Inventory
  • Creating Incentives for Sales Staff
  • Designing or Supervising the Design of Store Displays
  • Devising Promotions
  • Ensuring Adherence to Corporate Standards
  • Establishing Theft Prevention Protocols
  • Evaluating Employee Performance
  • Evaluating the Customer Experience
  • Hands-on Management Experience
  • Hiring
  • Identify Talent
  • Implement Visual Guidelines
  • Interviewing Prospective Staff Members
  • Learning and Utilizing Retail Management Software
  • Loss Prevention
  • Maintaining Safety Standards
  • Maximize Profitability
  • Maximize Sales
  • Point of Sales (POS) systems
  • Profit and Loss
  • Promotions
  • Recruiting Staff
  • Resolving Customer Complaints
  • Staff Retention
  • Stock Control