Retail Industry

With the influx of foreign supermarkets, high – end shops and domestic retail outlets, working in the Retail Industry has become a viable career option for students in the country. Contrary to popular perception, the Retail Industry is not all about a Career in Sales. Find out more below.

What are the jobs really about?

Shop Operations

People working in the Retail Industry find jobs in a variety of settings. You can be working in a big international supermarket chain like Wal-Mart or a domestic chain like Big Bazaar. Alternatively, you can also be working for an individual, high – end outlet, such as a popular fashion designer’s store. Not only that, but you can also work in different types of outlets such as a music store like Planet M, or a sports outlet like Nike or even a popular book shop chain.

Jobs in the Retail Industry revolve around contributing towards one or more operations of a shop or a store.  As a professional in this industry, you can be involved in Inventory Management, Logistics, Buying, Merchandising, Sales, Billing etc. With experience, you can also move into managerial roles such as Retail Managers and Supply Chain Managers.

At a very high level, the Retail Industry also includes jobs that are common to all industries such as Marketing and Finance. However, we will only concentrate on operational jobs in this article as that is where the bulk of the jobs are available.

Why do people join the Retail Industry?

Low Qualifications

As compared to most other industries, the Retail Industry generally requires very little educational qualifications for entry – level sales jobs; completing your schooling will be sufficient. You will generally not require a graduation degree with top marks to get into this industry. The focus is on your personality and communication skills. However, for certain specialized roles and outlets, you might require additional educational qualifications, though this is rare.

Find out about the Top 7 Careers That Require Little Education.

Growth Opportunities

The Retail Industry offers tremendous growth opportunities; you can start off as an entry – level Sales Executive and possibly go on to become the Manager of the store, or even head several outlets in the same region! This unlimited growth potential of the Retail Industry attracts a lot people towards this industry. However, keep in mind that your growth potential will depend on the type of store you’re working in; there are likely to be more opportunities when you’re working for a big supermarket chain with outlets across the country rather than working for an exclusive store that has only one outlet.

Find out about the Top 7 Careers for Managers.

Varied Experience

As a professional working in the Retail Industry, your job will revolve around contributing towards one part of the operations. However, it is very likely that your job role shifts from one to other over time. For example, you might start off by working as a Sales Executive persuading customers to buy products, and then move on to a Buying role where you are responsible for dealing with suppliers and purchasing the in – demand products at the cheapest price, then work in the Billing department for a few months and finally land up in a Merchandising role where you’re responsible for developing attractive marketing techniques to be used within the store, such as putting up banners or boards, offering discounts etc.

As most professionals in the Retail Industry work in almost all forms of roles during their career, they gain a lot of experience in a variety of fields. This experience is extremely vital as it helps them discover different aspects of the job right at the start of their career and also helps them get jobs in more specialized roles.


Apart from their salary, most employees in this career also receive various forms of ‘benefits’ from their employers. This generally includes discounts and offers on the products at the store. For example, you might be offered a 50% discount on any one product at the store, or you might be entitled to receive free merchandise every month if you meet the sales targets. These benefits end up being big financial advantages in the long run, and also keep employees motivated and happy at the workplace.

What is it like to work in the Retail Industry?

Rude Customers

Working in the Retail Industry involves regularly dealing with customers who can often be rude and disrespectful, especially during delays and rush hours. As a professional in this industry, you will have to always keep your cool and be polite towards the customer or risk losing him/her to a rival outlet. This is not as easy as it sounds and the only people who become successful in this industry are the ones who empathize with the customer at all times and work towards attending to his/her needs.

The amount of interaction you have with customers depends upon your role at the store. A person working in a Sales or a Billing role will regularly interact with customers whereas a person working in a Merchandising role might not.

Long and Irregular Hours

The operations of a store generally go on for a long duration of hours, starting early in the morning and ending late at night. This results in professionals in the Retail Industry working for a comparatively longer duration every day as compared to professionals in other industries. Not only that, but people working in 24 – hour stores work in different shifts which often results in them being asked to work at irregular hours including early in the morning or late at night. However, at any given point of time, you would only be required to work for a fixed number of hours, as per your shift.

Find out about the Top 7 Fixed Hours Jobs.


Any operation in a store is assigned to a number of people rather than just one individual. This means that professionals in the Retail Industry are always required to work in teams, irrespective of their job role. As a person working in this industry, you will be required to coordinate and adjust with a number of people so as to meet common goals. This is not an easy task as you would often be required to accept opinions you might not agree with and work in ways you might not want to.

Physically Demanding

Even though the work environments are generally quite comfortable, jobs in the Retail Industry can often be physically demanding as they involve standing on your feet for longs hours, attending to customers. However, keep in mind that some jobs are more physically demanding than others. For example, a Sales Executive or a Billing Executive who has to attend to customers all day will have a more physically demanding job as compared to an individual who is involved in buying products from suppliers and wholesalers. 

Find out about the Top 7 Physical Careers.

Industry Profiles

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Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams, follow their interests & curiosities and see the opportunities in life's setbacks-- including death itself.