What Does a Store Associate Do? (Duties and Requirements)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 25, 2022 | Published December 7, 2021

Updated October 25, 2022

Published December 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you enjoy interacting with others, becoming a store associate might be an excellent way to begin a sales career. Store associates can operate in various retail settings, including independently owned companies, boutiques, department stores, and shopping malls. Understanding what these associates do can help you decide if the profession suits your career goals and aspirations. In this article, we explore a store associate's regular duties, discuss their work environment, explain the requirements to become one, and answer some frequently asked questions about the position.

What does a store associate do?

The answer to "what does a store associate do" is that they interact with the customers of a business. These employees greet and assist clients, discuss the products or services offered by the company to consumers, or respond to a customer's unique inquiries. As store associates represent the company's public image, this role requires you to possess exceptional people skills and be knowledgeable about the products they're offering.

Depending on the employer, a store associate may also be responsible for a store's monetary exchanges on the point of sale system. This task may require the associate to count the money in the cash register at the end of the day and deposit the money and credit card slips in the company's safe. Other responsibilities can include:

  • stocking racks and removing expired items

  • aiding with inventory management and record-keeping

  • helping with janitorial responsibilities

  • designing window and store exhibits and keeping the store floor tidy

  • responding to client concerns and engaging management when appropriate to address issues

  • maintaining a clean and orderly pantry

  • encouraging customers to acquire additional or complementary items

  • clarifying warranty coverages and refund policies to consumers

  • fostering relationships with clients through the provision of perks, discounts, and enrollment in loyalty schemes

Read more: What Is an Associate in the Workplace? Definition and Types

The work environment for a store associate

Store associates often work in retail stores such as grocery, electronics, jewelry, cosmetics, and fashion stores. Their work environment typically involves the following:

  • Store employees can work full or part-time and earn a salary or commission.

  • Work schedules may extend to include night and weekend shift work.

  • Store associates usually spend several hours on their feet, requiring some level of physical endurance.

  • The job may necessitate lifting packages and climbing ladders to stock shelves.

Requirements for store associates

Below is a brief outline of what you might require to become a store associate and also ways you can improve your sales career:

Education

Most employers prefer store associate candidates to acquire a high school diploma. If you were unable to earn a high school diploma at a younger age, you can enroll in an adult learning program to obtain this qualification. Additionally, online high school or GED programs may also be obtainable. As most employees may also desire candidates with past sales experience, it may be a good decision to go for an internship position first. During an internship, you can acquire beneficial real-life experience while also adding to the professional experience section on your resume.

Training

Store associates usually receive on-the-job training. Depending on the business and the candidate's experience level, training may include learning how to communicate with customers, understanding store practices and regulations, and observing how to stock shelves and maintain a sorted storeroom. Some employers may also expect these associates to maintain store and window exhibits. When a store associate is responsible for financial transactions, they may also undergo training on how to operate the point of sale system.

Additionally, you might choose to receive sales training from outside the workplace. You can research online and find workshops and courses that can help you hone your sales skills and techniques.

Related: 11 In-Demand Careers in Retail (With Salaries and Duties)

CPSA membership

The Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) is an association for sales professionals. The CPSA is a non-profit society comprised of several members across the retail industry, from sales representatives to account managers. Although not a compulsory requirement, being a member of the CPSA can provide professional sales certifications, training opportunities, and a membership cost-savings initiative.

Certifications

Although certification is not a mandatory requirement to getting a job as a store associate, it can distinguish you in the job market and equip you with valuable knowledge and tools for career advancement. Below are some of the available certification courses you can pursue:

Certified Sales Associate certification

The Certified Sales Associate (CSA) certification can equip candidates with an excellent foundation in critical sales skills such as prospecting, developing effective customer relationships, negotiating, closing, and leveraging sales methodologies. This designation can prove that candidates possess the necessary qualities to succeed in their current role and position themselves for advancement. Maintaining your designation requires you to:

  • acquire at least 20 units of acknowledged career development every year

  • maintain active membership in the CPSA

  • abide by the CPSA Institute's Code of Ethics

Certified Sales Professional certification

The Certified Sales Professional (CSP) designation for sales experts acknowledges their excellence in how well they can handle broad financial records with key clients and continually satisfy or surpass sales projections. Maintaining your designation requires you to:

  • obtain at least 30 units of acknowledged career development every year

  • maintain active membership in the CPSA

  • abide by the CPSA Institute's Code of Ethics

Skills

As the job of a store associate involves working with customers for a significant part of the day, these professionals require strong interpersonal and communication skills. The ideal candidate for this profession is someone who enjoys being in the company of other individuals. Extroverts who can easily address strangers and engage in discussions can typically excel in this occupation. Additionally, store associates may possess the skills below:

  • Customer service skills: Excluding the ability to communicate and interact with customers, the role usually requires candidates to be respectful and professional. These professionals can listen attentively to and address clients' demands and concerns.

  • Self-control: Due to the nature of their job, store associates may find it necessary to maintain a levelheaded attitude in all circumstances, as they represent the company's public image. As a result, it's critical for these professionals to maintain control of their emotions regardless of the context.

  • Endurance: The work of a store associate may involve long shifts and lots of standing. As a result, these experts typically require stamina and perseverance.

  • Resilience: A store associate's position requires them to maintain a pleasant and friendly attitude even when sales are below expectations or when a client is facing a complicated issue. By remaining motivated and positive, these professionals can become capable of quickly recovering from setbacks.

Read more: 10 Sales Associate Skills and How to Improve Them

Frequently asked questions about store associates

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the store associate position that may help guide you as an entry-level candidate:

What is the salary outlook for a store associate?

The average national salary of a store associate is $48,395 per year. This figure may vary according to the candidate's experience level, education, and location. Depending on the type of retail outlet, some associates can earn a considerable amount in commissions. Some expected benefits can include an employee development program and an employee discount at the employing store.

What is the difference between a cashier and a store associate?

The primary distinction between a store associate and a cashier is the extent of their job responsibilities. For instance, store associates are responsible for promoting sales, keeping records, and handling the cash register based on their job requirements. They stay active during the day by walking around the store and moving to and from the storage room. In comparison, cashiers remain stationary behind the counter to check out clients and accept payment. Additionally, store associates usually earn more than cashiers because they can promote sales and have the chance to earn commissions.

Related: How to Create a Retail Sales Associate Resume (With Tips)

What characteristics define an excellent store associate?

An excellent store associate usually has a friendly demeanour and a charismatic personality, which can enable them to interact positively with consumers. Additionally, a good store associate typically has an exceptional understanding of social signals and can adapt how they communicate with clients based on how they respond to help make them feel more comfortable. Associates can retain their composure under pressure, allowing them to continue offering quality customer service during peak business hours. They may also have a flexible schedule that permits them to work nights and weekends to accomplish business objectives.

A good store associate may typically maintain a dedication to tidiness and organization. These attributes can encourage them to vacuum, mop, or dust surfaces and maintain arranged product displays or storage shelves.

Related: 12 Sales Associate Interview Questions and Answers (With Examples)

Who supervises a store associate?

A store associate usually reports to the store manager. This manager can delegate responsibilities to store associates and serves as a point of contact for store associates when confronted with complex customer issues. In individually owned or small retail establishments, the store associate may answer directly to the owner, who may also assign daily tasks to them as well.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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