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What Does a Retail Trainee Do?

K. Kinsella
K. Kinsella

A retail trainee is someone who works as a sales assistant in a retail store while receiving on-the-job training. In many instances, a retail trainee may be a high school graduate since these roles are often entry-level jobs. Some companies also offer these programs for college graduates in which case the training may be designed to prepare someone to take on a supervisory or management position.

People involved in the retail trade are responsible for marketing products and services to consumers. When customers enter the store, the associates approach the customers, welcome them and direct them to the types of goods they are attempting to locate. Someone working as a retail trainee may initially be tasked with acting as a greeter since people assigned with these duties only need to have a basic knowledge of the shop's layout. To retain existing clients and attract new customers, greeters are expected to provide high levels of customer service and in some instances, a trainee may be coached to use certain phrases or to direct people to certain areas of the store.

A retail trainee may be tasked with organizing the shop.
A retail trainee may be tasked with organizing the shop.

As the process advances a retail trainee will be taught how to market certain products by emphasizing the features and benefits. Additionally, sales associates are often responsible for stocking shelves which entails locating inventory in the warehouse or storeroom and ensuring that items are displayed in an aesthetically pleasing and organized manner. Sales associates also operate registers and point-of-sale machines (POS); a trainee may spend some time shadowing an experienced employee before being given access to his or her own cash drawer.

A retail trainees may be responsible for stocking shelves and displays.
A retail trainees may be responsible for stocking shelves and displays.

During training, a retail trainee may be paid a lower wage than the experienced members of staff and in some instances, new recruits are hired on a temporary basis and only offered permanent positions if they perform well. The process may take weeks or months depending on the type of inventory being sold and the volume of consumer traffic. Prior to the end of the process, a retail trainee may be given an assessment that includes questions on store procedures as well as health and safety issues.

Retail trainees may work with another associate before getting their own cash drawer.
Retail trainees may work with another associate before getting their own cash drawer.

Graduate students are sometimes offered management trainee jobs in retail stores. The initial part of the training program may involve the individual being shown how to perform the basic sales associate job. Thereafter, people involved in these courses are shown how to order inventory, handle human resources (HR) matters and manage the store budget. Such courses often last for months, or even years, since people in these roles have many more skills to learn than those seeking to be store associates. Additionally, experienced sales associates without degrees are sometimes able to participate in these programs.

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    • A retail trainee may be tasked with organizing the shop.
      By: apops
      A retail trainee may be tasked with organizing the shop.
    • A retail trainees may be responsible for stocking shelves and displays.
      By: Pavel Losevsky
      A retail trainees may be responsible for stocking shelves and displays.
    • Retail trainees may work with another associate before getting their own cash drawer.
      By: Christy Thompson
      Retail trainees may work with another associate before getting their own cash drawer.
    • A retail trainee may spend some time assisting customers with their purchase.
      By: jura
      A retail trainee may spend some time assisting customers with their purchase.