Retail Skills: Definition, Examples, and How To Improve

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 20, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated August 20, 2022

Published July 26, 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.

Working in retail requires a specific set of retail skills to provide customer service and be a good team member. These skills include communication, sales, and organization. If you work in retail or are looking for a job in this field, you can benefit from developing these skills. In this article, we discuss what retail abilities are, provide examples of these skills, explore the steps you can follow to improve them, and explain how to apply them in a retail role.

What are retail skills?

Retail techniques typically involve teamwork, customer service, merchandising, and other responsibilities. You can develop and improve these skills to help you excel in a variety of retail positions and create a great experience for your customers. Some common roles in this industry include:

  • Cashier

  • Sales associate

  • Retail merchandiser

  • Customer service representative

  • Store manager

  • Retail team leader

Related: 10 Sales Associate Skills and How To Improve Them

Essential skills for professionals in the retail industry

There are many skills you can use to help you provide customer service and be a good team member. Here are several examples of retail skills you can develop:


Communication is an essential skill for people who work in retail. Developing strong communication skills can help you work more efficiently with your team members and provide excellent customer service. When interacting with customers, you can use your communication skills to fulfil their requests, answer their questions, and help make sure you meet their needs.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples


Retail workers can also benefit from sales skills. Selling products is a basic duty of many retail jobs. Improving your sales skills can help you increase the number of products you sell, which can increase your company's profits. Valuable elements of sales techniques include confidence, active listening, negotiation, and persuasion.

Product knowledge

It's also important for retail workers to have substantive product knowledge. You need to be able to tell customers about the details of products to persuade them to make a purchase. It's also important to be knowledgeable about your products or services so you can make recommendations for customers.

Related: What Is a Merchandiser? Description, Skills and A Day in the Life

Basic math

Basic math skills can also be useful in retail jobs. People who work in retail often use cash registers and computer software to complete transactions. It can be helpful to know basic math like addition and subtraction. It's also important to know how to count money to complete cash transactions.

Related: 14 Essential Skills for Great Cashiers


People who work in retail can also benefit from teamwork skills. Often, retail work environments are team-oriented, so it's important to know how to work well on a team and collaborate with other employees. Building a strong team can also help employees increase their productivity and enhance the work environment.

Time management

Time management skills are also important for people who work in retail. You can use time management skills to help you ensure you complete your entire checklist of job duties by the end of your shift. Time management skills can also help you make sure you open and close your store on time, which is important for customers to have a good experience at your store.

Related: Time Management Skills: Examples and Definitions


Problem-solving skills can also be useful for people who work in retail. It's important for you to develop problem-solving skills so you know how to handle situations that come up in retail environments. Problem-solving skills can help you navigate situations like customer complaints, employees missing work, and other issues. Knowing how to resolve these issues can help you maintain your customer service.


It can also be worthwhile to develop your technology skills if you work in retail. Often, retail workers use cash registers, computer software, and handheld devices to do their jobs. You can become better at your job by making sure you have the skills to use all of your store's technology.

Industry knowledge

You can also become better at your job by enhancing your industry knowledge. As a retail worker, you can advance your career by learning more about your specific company, including its target customers, as well as how the sales process works.

How to improve retail abilities

To excel in the retail industry, it's important to be constantly building new skills and improving them. Here are four simple steps you can follow to improve your skills:

1. Gain retail work experience

One step to improving your retail skills is to gain work experience in the retail industry. By gaining retail work experience, you can put your skills into practice, allowing you to improve them. Try to get experience in customer service positions that allow you to use your relevant skills every day.

2. Learn more about your store

Another step you can take to improve your retail techniques is to learn more about your organization. It's important to take the time to become well-versed in your store's products and policies. This helps you offer the best possible experience to customers.

3. Pursue professional development

You can also improve your retail abilities by pursuing professional development. You can read books and take classes centred around professional development to help you develop important professional qualities like communication, leadership, and motivation.

4. Ask for feedback

Another key step to improving your retail techniques is asking other people for feedback. You can ask your supervisor to give you feedback on what you do well and where you can improve. Getting feedback can help you figure out exactly which skills you need to focus on improving to become better at your job.

Related: How To Improve Your Skill Set and Keep Skills Current

Applying these skills in the workplace

Here are some ways that you can apply your retail abilities in your workplace:

  • Providing customer service: one of the basic job responsibilities of people who work in retail is providing customer service. You can apply your communication skills and product knowledge to provide excellent customer service, including answering customer questions and making product recommendations.

  • Making sales: use these skills to secure sales. You can use your sales skills to persuade customers to purchase your company's products or services, which can directly impact the success of the business.

  • Processing transactions: you can apply your math and technology skills to process transactions, which is a common job responsibility in the retail industry. Using these skills can help you ensure that you process transactions accurately.

  • Inventory management: if inventory management is one of your job responsibilities, you can use your industry knowledge and understanding of your company's customers to help you manage your company's inventory.

Related: Customer Service Skills: Definition and Examples

How to highlight retail skills

To advance your career in the retail industry, it's important to know how to highlight these skills on your resume and cover letter, as well as in job interviews. Here are some ways you can highlight these skills:

On a resume

Crafting a great retail resume is key to featuring your retail abilities as you start your job search. As you write your resume, be sure to include all of your retail experience and details of each position. If you don't have any paid experience, you can also include volunteer experiences. Make sure to include a skills section in your resume and list your most relevant skills. Typically, people list their skills in bullet lists to keep their resumes organized and make it easy for potential employers to read through them.

  • Related: Retail Resume (Detailed Guide and Template)

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

In a cover letter

You can also highlight your relevant skills in your cover letter. When you write your cover letter, you can mention a few of your retail techniques and examples of how you've applied them. Make sure to proofread and review your cover letter to fix any errors and ensure that it's error free and looks professional.

  • Related: What Is a Cover Letter? (With Tips, Template, and Example)

  • Related: How To Write a Retail Cover Letter (With an Example)

In a job interview

Once you get an interview for a retail job, be sure to discuss your skills with your interviewer. To highlight your retail abilities in a job interview, it's important to prepare for common answers in advance. Be sure to consider which skills you want to discuss during your interview. You can also describe your retail techniques and how you've applied them in real-world situations. This can help you prove to your interviewer that you have the essential skills to excel in the open retail position.

This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

Explore more articles