Moving up in the Retail Industry

What can my next retail move be?
The retail industry moves at a faster pace than any other. What was the ‘must have’ a few months ago has now become obsolete and replaced by the newest trend.
Retailers work hard to spot the next big thing and anticipate consumer demand, whilst striving to gain a greater market share in an increasingly competitive industry. If you have ambitions to progress to the next level on the career ladder and beyond, it’s up to you to keep abreast of developments within your chosen sector and expand your skill set to position yourself as a valuable asset to your employer. Here are some of the career options available to you – from Head Office to store level and warehousing: Logistics and Distribution Executive This is a fast-moving environment and an increasingly popular career choice for ambitious graduates. This involves management of larger storage units and overseas opportunities alongside the company’s Buyers, before taking on the role of Head of Logistics. Merchandiser Promotion to manager, head of department and director level can be rapid, depending upon the individual. It’s not uncommon for merchandisers to be responsible for running a multi-million pound department and managing a team within five years.

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Buyers Buyers will often move into management, marketing or store management positions after five or more years of experience, with many opening their own retail business when they have found a niche specialism. Store Managers Managers can determine their own career path but must be prepared to relocate if looking to manage a larger store or move higher up the career ladder to area or national management positions. Marketing Progression within marketing is not as rapid as with other retail positions. Promotion to management tends to take between three and ten years and job-hopping is usually seen as a faster way of advancing your career. If you already know what direction you would like to progress your career, then take the initiative to find out what skills will be required for the next step up, the one after that, and the next one after that. Find out what relevant skills training courses are available through your employer, online or at your local college. By being proactive in acquiring new skills you will be best prepared to take on the challenge of your next role and be considered a more attractive proposition to your boss.

Job Searches
Assistant Buyer Buyer Human Resources Merchandiser Sales Assistant Assistant Manager Department Manager Marketing Senior Buyer Store Manager

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

What achievements should I add to my CV?
If you were an employer receiving hundreds of applications for an advertised position, what would you look for to determine who the best applicant was? The answer to sort the good from the great is simple -: achievements.
Too often job seekers identify the key skills that are required for a certain vacancy and then list them on their CV. But employers don’t want to be confronted with a list of adjectives; they want to know how you have used your skills in a positive way. For example, stating that you have ‘effective influencing and negotiation skills’ has little impact and will do little to persuade a recruiter to interview you. Instead, demonstrate how these skills have been used in a business setting by using an achievement statement Use your CV to position yourself as someone who offers something unique to anyone else. Have you won awards? Have you increased sales despite testing economic conditions? Did you introduce a new product into the market that has become the company’s biggest selling product? Is your store the best-performer in the region? And with every achievement that you boast, make sure you can quantify your achievements in monetary or percentage terms. Retail is all about servicing customer needs, making money and cutting costs so see how you can show off what you’re done.

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Here are a few examples you can adapt for your CV: “Boosted sales of Product X by £250k, representing a 35% increase year-on-year.” “Set up a complaint handling procedure that reduced response times by 10% and increased customer satisfaction by 15%”. “Negotiated lower rates with suppliers which enabled the company to purchase more stock and increase its volume of sales by an additional £1.5m.” “Devised and implemented a new customer loyalty scheme which saw an uptake of more than 200,000 new customers and new orders worth over £2m.” “Successfully negotiated lower media advertising rates which resulted in the company being able to extend its new brand launch by a further two weeks.” “Developed a direct marketing campaign and new brochure that cleared end-of-season stock with a 15% profit margin”. Make sure you include many instances when you have exceeded expectations, gone beyond your job remit and gained recognition from your colleagues and peers.

Further Reading
- How should I list my previous jobs on my CV? - What makes a good CV design and layout? - How can I make my CV more effective?

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

What are the important skills to develop?
With almost 8% of the UK’s GDP generated by the retail industry and around 3 million people making their living in one of numerous roles available within the sector, there are only a finite number of promotion opportunities available.
But for those of you who are ambitious and have your sights set on reaching the very top of your profession, you need to master the skills that are relevant to the job you already have and recognise those that will be needed in the next job you want. Each step up that you take will require you to develop a new set of skills that complement the ones you currently possess. And if you want to hit the ground running in your next role then you should actively look for opportunities to acquire these new skills before you take up the post. Suppose you have your eye on the next Senior Buyer vacancy, having prior experience of analysing sales figures and meeting with suppliers to negotiate terms of contract will certainly increase your chances of being invited to interview. However, by researching the role of a Senior Buyer you will have discovered that one of the key requirements of the job is the ability to review current pricing, set pricing strategies and drive down cost prices.

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By taking the initiative to acquire these new skills in advance you will make your CV stand out from the rest and employers will be more likely to want to interview you. You have demonstrated your passion for retail, your commitment to personal development, and your determination to make yourself an invaluable asset to the company – three of the most important attributes that are admired in the retail industry. Most employers will run a number of training courses and workshops that will enable you to develop the skills that you will need to succeed in your next role. Failing that, contact your local college or look on the internet for a list of night-school or distance learning courses such as those run by the Open University. The CIM also offer an excellent range of post graduate courses for those who are involved in the marketing and sales areas of the retail industry at various stages of their career, from newly qualified graduates to senior managers.

Monster’s Career Snapshots show you the skills you need in order to take your career to the next level:
Buyer Merchandiser Store Manager Cashier Retail Salesperson

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How can I get my boss to notice my efforts?
Most of us are modest about our achievements at work and often shy-away from getting praise for a job well done. But if no-one knows how great you are at your job, you simply won’t get ahead.
To make sure you get noticed in your workplace and get the recognition you deserve, there are a few key things you need to do. Firstly, make sure you're regularly contacting your boss. In addition to regular meetings and yearly appraisals, let them know of any notable achievements you have. There are ways of letting them know what you are doing without looking like you’re bragging. Take advantage of opportunities when you reach landmarks and always look for ways of doing other aspects of your job better. You may also want to acknowledge the part they played in any successful project. By praising your boss for overseeing the project, they will be more likely to remember it. There is a fine balancing act between telling your boss about the great work you're doing, and making it look like you're pitching for their job. Too often senior managers lose contact with the very things that made them succeed in the first place. This is good news for you. Keep abreast with industry trends and position yourself as the person who knows what is happening within your field.

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Time is a precious commodity – especially in the retail industry. Yet too many of us bemoan that we don’t have enough hours in the day to do our jobs. By avoiding distractions and prioritising your workload, you will complete tasks and be seen by your boss as someone who gets things done. As well as excelling in individual tasks, when you’re required to take part in team projects try to set yourself in a position where you are seen as a pivotal part of the group. Be the one to set up the meetings, update others on the project progress and copy in your boss on all important communications to show you have managerial qualities. Retail is a high pressure, high demand industry. Product ranges need to be ordered and distributed, stores need to be well designed and maintained, customers need to be made aware of the products, shop floor staff need to be trained on how to complete transactions – the list is endless. Much of this responsibility lies with your manager, so offer to take charge of the tasks that you know you will be capable of doing. This demonstrates your willingness to help your employer and to increase your skill set which by default, raises your profile. As good as internal recognition is, it can't compare with the praise you get from outside the company. Testimonials from customers or suppliers are one of the most effective ways of getting your boss to recognise your achievements. Don’t be afraid to ask for a note of gratitude. It’s a great to be able to pull these out when appraisal time comes around.

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

Should I move internally or externally?
If you are committed to a retail career and are intent on rising up through the ranks, at some stage during your ascendancy you may be forced into making a tough decision – should I stay where I am and wait for a promotion or leave my current employer?
The decision will depend upon whether or not your employer can match your career aspirations. Suppose you're a designer for Laura Ashley or FCUK, where your creative talents are allowed to flourish and opportunities to progress into a Senior Designer or Design Manager role are realistic within the same organisation. The decision to stay seems an obvious one. Or perhaps you started your career as a Merchandiser in the Head Office of a major retailer such as M&S or Tesco, but now you feel that your interest lies in buying, marketing or even Store Management. Large-scale employers will often encourage their staff to switch between roles, so you may not need to change your employer to change your job. With some areas of retail renowned for their high turnover of staff, retailers are known for appreciating staff loyalty and this could put you at the front of the queue when the next round of promotions come.

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You also need to understand what motivates you and recognise if your employer ticks enough boxes on your list. For instance, if you want to move into management but opportunities come up once in a blue moon, you should move on otherwise your energy levels will sap and you will get caught in a rut. You may even be perceived as lacking ambition which could harm your future career plans. Or perhaps you're a Store Manager spending 80% of your day with your head buried in paperwork and just 20% of your time in a customer facing capacity – is this your ideal balance? So the question you need to ask yourself is whether your employer can help you to realise your career ambitions - if they can’t, you need to find a company that will. Job hopping from one employer to another can have its advantages and disadvantages. For sales and marketing roles, for example, job hopping is commonplace and widely accepted as the best way to progress your career. However, too many jobs can signal red flags on your CV and some employers may view you as a risk or question your ability to do your job.

How much can you earn in the Retail sector?
Salary by Gender Salary by Experience Salary by Job Role Salary by Company Size Salary by Location

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What attributes make a good manager?
Just as the best footballers don’t make the best team managers, nor do the best sales people make the best Store Managers or the best negotiators make the best Buying Managers.
Successful managers are the ones who are skilled at performing a wide range of roles and can bring out the best in their staff. Some people are proficient at performing the specific role they are employed to do but when it comes to taking the next step up into management, expectations of you will change and you will need to step out of your comfort zone and look at the way things operate across a variety of different functions. For instance, Store Managers not only need to focus on sales or customer service, they will be involved in recruitment, staff training, advertising, in-store promotions, payroll, and health and safety. Skilled managers will understand how each of these functions operate and will use their skills to create an effective working team that is focused on achieving the company’s targets on time and within budget. And that is a skill in itself. Similarly, a Marketing Manager will work with Marketing Executives, Designers, Buyers, Merchandisers and Product Managers to create an effective advertising campaign, catalogue or brochure and keep the company website up to date.

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In other words, managers of all disciplines need to have an understanding of how various facets of the retail industry operate and have the ability to lead a disparate group of people towards a common goal. The retail industry is fast-paced and sales driven. And those who are able to hold their own under pressure, can lead by example, can increase sales without increasing budgets, can enthuse their staff and multi-task effectively will make good managers. And as you move up, your planning, budgeting and analytical skills will increase in demand. Not forgetting the importance of having strong communication skills, as you need to be able to communicate the company’s objectives and motivate your staff to want to achieve these too. Honesty and transparency are vitally important to employees. Let your staff know what you expect of them, recognise the work they do, and make them feel part of the decision making process. If you can make your staff feel wanted and appreciated, you will have the makings of a good manager.

Further Reading
- How can I secure a pay rise? - What can I do to ensure a promotion? - How can I improve as a manager?

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How can I make a long-term career plan?
The retail sector is a fast-moving industry that has undergone many changes in recent years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Central to these changes has been the rapid growth of ‘ethical consumerism’.
Consumer purchasing decisions are increasingly being influenced by how ‘responsible’ an organisation is in terms of its environmental and fair trade policies. And this growth of ethical consumers has created a market worth around £40bn in the UK which is expected to surge over the coming years and dictate the way retailers procure products and run their organisations. New products are being created and existing products are being rebranded and marketed in a different way to appeal to these new consumers. Equally significant will be the continued concerns of health issues as concern over animal testing, childhood obesity and the nation’s declining health will increase. Online shopping will continue to grab a greater share of the market with major retailers competing with each other online as well as on the high street. The trend for specialist retailers is also set to continue with the internet enabling smaller companies to set up shop without the overheads of having a high street presence.

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And the digital TV switchover will invariably see the growth of TV home shopping which will give the likes of QVC and Ideal World a run for their money. New developments and new ways of doing things will inevitably create a wide variety of career opportunities for those people who are serious about pursuing their retail career. Anticipating these trends and aligning your skill set with a future growth area will allow you to make a long-term plan for your career. Graduate trainees can realistically see themselves running a retail store within two years and see their salaries rise considerably above the £50k mark within just five years. Head office roles can lead into management and beyond following considerable experience. The retail industry also has a significantly high number of entrepreneurs who have started their own retail outlet and have become some the wealthiest, and famous names in the business, including Richard Branson (Virgin), Philip Green (Arcadia) and Charles Dunstone (Carphone Warehouse).

Improve Your Monster Experience
If you have a Monster Profile, you may have noticed the Career Goals section on your personalised homepage. This is a perfect place to put your career aspirations down in writing, so you can look back in 6 months or 6 years to see how far you are towards achieving your goals. If you tell us your dream jobs, we’ll automatically update you on job opportunities that match so you can take note of the skills you need to develop, or apply right away. View or create your Monster Profile now.

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Is retail the right industry for me?
The days when a job was for life are long gone as are the days when everyone worked in the same field throughout their working lives. So if you have been working in the retail industry for a few years and are considering your next career move, you need to make sure you are working in the right place doing the job which is right for you.
Whether you choose to stay within the retail industry or move into a different field will depend upon your levels of motivation and your expectations. Understanding what makes you happiest at work will enable you to make the decision to stay in the same industry or purse your career in a different sector. For instance, if you are feeling de-motivated by the lack of challenge and variety in your job, or that you aren’t learning new skills and lack recognition for the work that you do, it is a natural instinct to start consider other career options. But sometimes the answer lies in the job you are doing and not necessarily the industry you are in. Sales people, for example, are used to having praise bestowed upon them when they do a good job, whereas the praise for marketers is a little less forthcoming. That’s just the way it is.

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The retail industry arms you with a skill set that can be applied to virtually any business environment, such as commercial awareness, relationship management, sales, marketing, analysis and problemsolving skills. And given the wide range of sectors within the industry, there is scope for you to switch from one job role to another relatively easily. So if you are bored with working at store level, for example, and feel that your options for progression are limited, you might consider making a move to Head Office. Conversely, perhaps you have been creating marketing plans for a number of years and would like to see how your initiatives are implemented in practice at the coal face, then you could take up a store-related position or a wider commercial role. The retail sector offers the opportunity for employees to switch from store to head office roles and the other way round, and from head office roles such as buying and quality control into entirely different industries such as manufacturing and logistics. If you're not happy, be bold and make the switch.

What Next?
If you’re still looking for advice on finding the right job, creating a great CV or tips on job interview, career-advice.monster.co.uk contains everything you ever wanted to know, and more! If you’re ready to apply for jobs, upload you CV to Monster and then take a look through the latest Retail roles.

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

Retail Glossary
Anchor store - one of the larger stores in a shopping centre, usually a department store or a major retail chain, that attracts more footfall and benefits smaller retailers within the outlet Brand - used to distinguish one product from its competitors. It can apply to a single product, an entire product line, or even a company. Customer - one who purchases or receives a product or service from a business or merchant. ‘The customer is always right’ is a phrase often used in the world of retailing. Drop shipping - a supply chain management technique in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock, but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. Exit interview - An exit interview is an interview conducted by an employer of a departing employee. They are generally conducted by a relatively neutral party, such as a human resources staff member,

www.monster.co.uk Fair trade – an organized social movement and marketbased approach that aims to help producers in developing countries and promote sustainability. Goods - t hat which is produced, then traded, bought or sold, then finally consumed. Homebase - a British home improvement store and garden centre, formerly owned by Sainsbury’s with over 300 stores in the UK. Inventory - a list for goods and materials, or those goods and materials themselves, held available in stock by a business. John Lewis Partnership - a major UK retailer who operate John Lewis department stores, Waitrose supermarkets and direct services company Greenbee. Kiosk - any small structure that stands alone, usually for the purpose of supplying a product or service. Layaway - also referred to as lay-by, is a way to purchase an item without paying the entire cost at once. Mark-up is the difference between the cost of a good or service and its selling price. A mark-up is added on to the total cost incurred by the producer of a good or service in order to create a profit.

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Moving up in the Retail Industry Next - Next plc is a British clothes retailer, with its head office in Enderby, Leicestershire. It is one of the United Kingdom's largest clothing retailers. Organising - the act of rearranging elements following one or more rules. This forms a key part of a Store Manager’s role where they need to maximise layout to increase sales. POS- standing for Point of Sale, this generally refers to a checkout counter in a shop, or the location where a transaction occurs and a final opportunity to offer additional products to consumers. QVC – a multinational corporation, specialising in televised home shopping. The Shopping Channel broadcasts live 17 hours a day for 364 days a year. Retail Week - the UK’s leading news magazine for the retail industry, covering food, fashion, property, technology and stores. SKU - Stock Keeping Unit is a unique identifier for each distinct product and service that can be ordered from a supplier. Transaction - transaction is an event or condition under the contract between a buyer and a seller to exchange an asset for payment

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Uniform - a set of standard clothing worn by members of an organisation while participating in that organisation's activity. Vendor - any individual or organisation who promotes or exchanges goods or services for money Warranty – or guarantee, is a written assurance that a product or service will be provided or will meet certain specifications. Zavvi - an entertainment retail chain that launched in the UK after a buy-out of Virgin Megastores in September 2007 before falling into administration in December 2008.

Think you know retail? When going for a job interview it really pays to know about the issues affecting the industry the company operates in. We’ve devised a short quiz to help you judge how much you know about the retail sector. Take the quiz now!

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

They say that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, but often it is. Our series of eBooks brings together expert advice to help you secure the job you want and build a successful career. For more career tools, visit career-advice.monster.co.uk.

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