What Is Retail Operations?

Every time you enter a retail store, your shopping experience has been extensively planned, from the items you see for sale to the layout and design of the store. Many times these decisions are made by someone working in retail operations, or the area of retail concerned with the day-to-day functions of stores. Schools offering Retail Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

About Retail Operations

The field of retail operations concerns the work that individuals do to keep a retail store functioning. This includes both retail salespeople and managers in all types of retail stores, including small stores with only a handful of workers and large chain stores with hundreds of employees. If you're interested in a career in this field, remember that you'll probably need to have strong communication skills and the ability to handle difficult customers. If you're already working in the field and are interested in learning more or advancing, you can visit the website for the National Retail Federation, which provides education resources and retail advocacy information.

Important Facts About Retail Operations

Key Skills Customer service, persistence, interpersonal communication, and selling skills
Required Education Varies by position; typically at least a high school diploma
On-the-Job Training Lasts from a few days to a few months, typically administered by a senior employee
Similar Occupations Customer Service Manager/Representative, Manufacturing Sales Representative, Insurance Sales Agent, Information Clerk


One way you can enter a career in retail operations is as a retail salesperson. In this position, you'd be responsible for helping customers select and purchase merchandise. To be hired as a retail salesperson, you'll probably need a high school diploma, and with experience you could be moved into a supervisor or assistant manager position. If you're interested in management, you may need to hold a bachelor's degree; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the management trainees whom larger retail stores select usually have a college education (www.bls.gov).

Typical Duties

As a salesperson, you'll show items to customers and explain these items' benefits or features, then complete the necessary financial transaction if the customer decides to make a purchase. Your duties would be greater if you worked in management. You could be responsible for ordering merchandise, pricing items, designing displays, completing inventories, creating financial reports and monitoring staff. As a manager, you might perform all these duties for more than one store, although if you needed assistance with any of these duties, you might delegate them to an assistant manager or store supervisor.


Your pay as a worker in retail operations will vary, depending on the position you hold. Many retail salespeople are paid hourly; the BLS reported that in May 2018, the hourly wages of most salespeople ranged from $8.85-$19.96. Managers and supervisors could make more. In May 2019, PayScale.com showed that most retail operations managers reporting to the website earned between $29,000 and $55,000 annually. In comparison, the BLS found in May 2018 that most retail supervisors earned between $25,720 and $69,290 annually.

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