Great Characteristics For Retail Employees

The ability to talk to anyone? Check. Friendly and approachable? Check. Calm during stressful situations? Check.  The list of great customer characteristics continues when looking for retail employees for your store, but among the checks you want to cross off on your employee check list should include the following:

1. Customer Service Skills

In retail, no matter what sector of retail, it is essential that employees excel in customer service. Among the important customer service qualities that retail employees should have  include the ability to calmly interact with customers under all kinds of situations, including stress. Whether you are dealing with a frustrated customer or a disruptive customer, employees who can effectively react to various situations in the retail enviornment are very valuable for stores to have. In addition to dealing with more stressful situations, it’s also great to have associates who excel with client relationships. Their customer service skills can enhance your business in many ways, including financially and socially.

2. Time Management Skills

Anyone who works in retail knows there is a lot to be done. The list is endless regarding what there is to do. When looking for employees, it is beneficial to find people who thrive being busy and can balance many different responsibilities. In addition, being interrupted is common in retail. You can start a project thinking there will be no foot traffic in the store for awhile and then all the sudden you can get slammed. Understanding this comes with the territory is important for employees to respect.

3. Flexible Working Hours

Store hours should accomodate all consumers, not just  those available during the day from 9 to 5. Because of this, having retail associates who are able to work after 5pm and during the weekends is essential. It’s also a good idea to bring up holiday working hours during your employee interviews so you can anticipate what your staff’s availability will be during holiday seasons.

4. Ability To Take Some Heat

Believe it or not, it takes tough skin to work in retail. Hearing “no thanks” or sometimes even just a big, loud “no” from customers can often hurt one’s feelings. There will be times when associates will have to deal with upset customers and respect store policies despite wanting to. It may mean headaches and tears for some, while others let these situations bounce off of them and move forward. Make sure to discuss these types of situations with your associates so you can help plan ahead  for these potentially upsetting situations later.

5.  Willingness To Take Ownership

Great retail associates should be able to “own” the situation they are in. Good or bad, they should be able to proudly represent your business and deliver outstanding service. If questioned later about something, they should have confidence in their actions and likewise, it’s important you have confidence in them. That said, this takes time to earn. But looking for associates who  you believe will “own” their responsibilities is important for your business to thrive since you can’t always be the face of your business.

What other characteristics do you believe retail employees should have? Let us know. Please comment below.


  • Sherrie Ness
    March 3, 2010

    Ability to work well with co-workers. Be a team player – be flexible, be an encourager, be willing to pick-up the pieces of various jobs, see where you can help each other. Be willing to pick-up hours for others. Basically be unselfish.

  • Black Friday
    March 3, 2010

    For those on commission, a team player attitude. Nothing worse then working in a retail environment where sales people are stabbing each other in the back by stealing away customers.

    Even if they are great at what they do & and treat customers well, retail employees who aren’t team players will end up driving away your best employees.

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