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Retail Careers Are More Than Standing at Cash Registers

Retail Careers Are More Than Standing at Cash Registers

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By Kevin A. Forehand
Program Director, Retail Management Program at American Public University

Finding a job is tough; finding the right job with the right fit is even tougher. Sometimes landing the good job that turns into a satisfying career seems impossible. Many of us have experienced this problem, possibly even right now.

Retail Is the Single Largest Private-Sector Employer

Have you ever considered a career in retail? According to the National Retail Federation and the accounting and advisory firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the retail industry is the single largest private sector employer in the United States.

Retail careers include 42 million jobs and $2.6 trillion in annual GDP. These numbers represent workers involved in the production of raw materials into finished goods sold at retail stores, associates in distribution centers, truck drivers, unloading and stocking crews in stores, cashiers, sales associates and managers.

Retail Work Includes a Wide Variety of Careers

However, there are many more retail careers that are not so obvious. The fit you are seeking could be in an organization that has retail stores where you currently shop.

You probably have said no to retail because you don’t want to work in a store. But there are many more careers in retail that might interest you.

One potential retail career is a buyer. Buyers generally work at an organization’s home office and their job is to buy merchandise to sell in the organization’s stores. This job involves quite a bit of future planning and some travel. Also, you must be willing to interact with manufacturers and producers who want to convince you to buy their products.

Retail Careers Also Involve Store Designers and Planners

Not much of a shopper? That’s fine. If you like to design or create layouts, maybe store planning would be the right fit for you. Store planners create store plan-o-grams or modular displays for the products buyers purchase.

Many retail firms have several teams of planners who travel the country to set up new stores or remodel existing ones. If you like to travel and you like changing things, store planning could be perfect for you.

Store Planners Also Work with Commercial Real Estate Agents

Have you ever wondered why Macy’s or Target choose to build a new store in a specific location? If so, the real estate aspect of retail could be the right fit for you.

Becoming a licensed agent to buy and sell commercial properties is a good career move for someone interested in retail planning, but licensing is not a requirement. Commercial real estate agents work with store planners to find the perfect location to establish a new retail outlet or to relocate one that needs to move.

There are many factors to consider before deciding on a store location. These factors include such things as population, income levels of the area, traffic counts, land valuations, build-out costs, competition, etc. In addition, there is some travel involved because potential sites must be inspected and meetings often take place on site.

Retail Jobs Also Involve Traditional Organizational Careers

There are many other conventional career areas to explore within the retail industry, such as human resources, legal and marketing. Retail careers incorporate many different professions that can lead to an exciting career path with endless opportunity. Consider the retail field to create your own career and you just might find the fulfilling career you seek.

About the Author

Kevin Forehand is the Program Director of the Retail Management Program at American Public University. He earned an MBA from Thomas University and is a DBA Candidate at Northcentral University. He has worked in the retail industry for more than 20 years in a variety of roles, including sales associate, support manager, assistant store manager, store manager, district manager and vice president of store operations.

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