6 Skills You’ll Need To Be a Retail Assistant

skills youll need to be a retail assistant

6 Skills You’ll Need To Be a Retail Assistant

Retail is one of the industries we all deal with on a daily basis. Everyone has an opinion on the customer service they receive and are often more than ready to tell people how they could do it better.

But being a retail assistant is not as easy as one might think. This is a challenging industry that requires it’s workers to constantly gain new product knowledge, manage multiple competing priorities and keep a happy face on for the whole experience.

Let’s take a more detailed look at what it takes to excel in this fast paced industry. In this blog we’re going to answer all your questions about being a retail assistant; what they do, what they make and what kinds of skills you’ll need to be a retail assistant.

What does a retail assistant do?

These frontline workers arguably have one of the most difficult jobs when it comes to the general public. They are responsible for providing their expertise to help customers find the best possible product for their purposes. They are often put in charge of opening or closing the physical store and handling the sales and cash out at the end of the day. They need to create visual merchandising, making the store look appealing, clean up after customers and deal face-to-face with customer complaints, returns and enquiries.

Where do retail assistants work?

Retail is an industry where you can really tailor your career to your passions. If you’re interested in photography you can work with camera equipment, if you love music, you can spend all day listening to it and talking about it with other music aficionados. Retail assistants are needed in every sector from beauty to fashion, sport to camping. There is a role out there for everyone.

How much do retail assistants make?

According to the Indeed website, the average retail sales assistant makes $28.20 per hour. The retail industry offers you a lot of flexibility. You can study, pursue other passions and work casually or you can climb the company ladder to become a store manager, regional manager or even a brand manager for the company. The salary will keep going up depending on the path you choose.

How do you become a retail sales assistant?

Formal training is not required to work in the retail industry but it certainly doesn’t hurt. This particular skillset is more complex than most people realise which is why a lot of people don’t last long in retail.

The best course to do to get started in retail is the Certificate III in Retail. This course is delivered completely online so you can start anytime and study from anywhere. The course can take anywhere from six months to twelve months to complete depending on the delivery option you choose. In the course you’ll learn how to:

  • Engage the customer
  • Assist with customer difficulties
  • Build customer relationships and loyalty
  • Work effectively in a team
  • Work effectively in a service environment
  • Identify and respond to security risks
  • Sell to the retail customer
  • Contribute to workplace health and safety
  • Work with diverse people
  • Receive and handle retail stock
  • Maintain personal health and wellbeing
  • Organise and maintain the store environment
  • Organise personal work requirements

You can learn more about this course here.

What kind of skills do you need to be a retail assistant?

While studying is important and definitely gives you an edge over your competition, there are some skills that will help you to excel in the role.


Being a good communicator, someone who is able to talk people through what they want and help them to find the right product for their needs is essential to succeeding in the fast-paced retail environment.

A really good retail assistant is personable, able to build rapport quickly, establishing trust and connection with their customer. They need to be good at actively listening to find the most important aspect of the product for their customer’s personal needs.

Team work

Retail assistants are always working within a team and they will need to work together to accomplish their store’s KPIs. Working well with others and adjusting to the group dynamic and supporting your other team members will help you all to succeed.

Customer service skills

It might go without saying but customer service skills are essential to being a good retail assistant. And it’s not always easy. Sometimes we all wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But as a retail assistant you are the face of a brand and while at work you are required to be polite, friendly and personable to every customer who walks through that door.  Really taking the time to help every person and focusing on listening to them and solving their problems will make for a happy customer.


We have all seen the viral videos of ‘Karen customers’ who argue and throw tantrums in retail stores. While not all customers will be that difficult, the truth of the matter is that some will be, and you’ll need to remain professional and polite in this situations. Having patience and maintaining a professional presence when dealing with problem customers and complaints will be essential to succeeding as a retail sales assistant.

Problem solving

Any job where you deal with the public can throw curve balls your way. People are the unknown element in the equation. But creative problem solving can really help you deal with whatever they might throw your way and take a problem customer to a satisfied one.

Using your effective communication skills and thinking outside the box as to how a product can work differently for each customer based on their needs can save an uncomfortable encounter.

Being a fast learner

Retail assistants have to learn on their feet and constantly adapt as their brand changes and restrictions or rules change in their industry. New products, new policies and procedures and new rules are coming out all the time, so a retail assistant needs to be able to pick things up quickly and cope with changes as they happen.

Final Thoughts

Working in retail can be a rewarding and enjoyable career path for the right person. If you’re a people-person who enjoys a fast-paced environment and loves a challenge, then retail might be the right career path for you!

You can learn more about the course here or get in touch with us! We’d love to help you find the right the course for you!

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