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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.
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.

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
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 Assistant Manager
Buyer Department Manager
Human Resources Marketing
Merchandiser Senior Buyer
Sales Assistant 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
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.

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

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 Cashier
Merchandiser Retail Salesperson
Store Manager

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

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.

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

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
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

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

How much can you earn in the Retail sector?

Salary by Gender Salary by Company Size
Salary by Experience Salary by Location
Salary by Job Role

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

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
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.

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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Moving up in the Retail Industry

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
New products are being created and existing products are being re-
branded and marketed in a different way to appeal to these new
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.

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
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This is a perfect place to put your career aspirations down in

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Moving up in the Retail Industry

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
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.

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 problem-
solving 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

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,

Fair trade – an organized social movement and market-

based 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

SKU - Stock Keeping Unit is a unique identifier for each

distinct product and service that can be ordered from a

Transaction - transaction is an event or condition under the

contract between a buyer and a seller to exchange an asset
for payment

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

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

For more career tools, visit career-advice.monster.co.uk.