Retail and Consumer Products

The Retail & Consumer Products Industry is a large industry encompassing many different career opportunities for individuals with higher education qualifications as well as basic training. Retail and consumer products are sold directly to the public and encompass food, furniture, appliances, electronics and household items. There are durable and non-durable retail items which are usually purchased frequently.

Careers in retail and consumer products include sales associates and cashiers directly dealing with customers and merchandise, as well as professionals working behind the scenes. This includes buyers of products and goods from producers, stockers, loss prevention workers, managers and marketing and advertising professionals. There are various types of retail stores such as department stores, mass merchandisers, discount store clubs, grocery stores, specialised merchandise shops and online venders. There are also local, "mom-and-pop" stores, however the number of these stores has decreased over the last few decades with the rise of massive retail chains.

Many individuals join the Retail & Consumer Products in stocking or sales and cashier roles and work their way up to management positions over time. Those completing Bachelors degrees in marketing, business, commerce, management, fashion and design can also find it easier to gain leadership and management roles or provide supporting services in the retail sector.

Individuals interested in careers in retail and consumer products should enjoy working with people, have an interest in fashion, electronics or other retail items and have excellent organisational skills. They should also have good analytical skills evaluating consumer trends and market research. Professionals in retail jobs usually work rotating eight-hour shifts during store hours and may need to spend long periods working on their feet on the store floor.

Related degrees

Related subjects

Careers in Retail and consumer products

Advertising Account Executive

The role of the Advertising Account Executive is to manage, coordinate and plan the overall advertising activities within a business. An Advertising Account Executive will work alongside clients to ensure that their needs and requirements are being fulfilled.

Advertising Specialist

Advertising Specialists are responsible for leading the advertising agency by developing advertising campaigns and liaising with clients. An Advertising Specialist will be adept in pitching new accounts, managing projects and communicating ideas to creative teams. They will specialise in a wide range of various advertising channels including television, radio, newspapers, magazines and digital.

Butchers and Small Goods Makers

Butchers and Small Goods Makers use a range of processing machines to hand-pick, prepare and sell meat and meat related products and small goods.

Buyers Retail and Wool

Buyers (Retail and Wool) liaise with suppliers and attend trade fairs to buy products to be resold in retail stores, and grade wool and purchase it from auctions or farmers on behalf of their clients.

Camera Operators

Camera Operators use a variety of technical and creative skills to record video shots for film, television, sporting events, news and documentary productions. They work closely with the director and director of photography to use their technical expertise with the camera to frame shots optimal for desired effect.

Car Salespersons

Car Salespersons work for dealerships that may represent major manufacturers selling new cars, commercial vehicles or used cars. It is vital for car salespersons to connect with customers to identify their needs and desires in an automobile, as well as budget to identify the most suitable car for each individual customer and to maximize sales.

Checkout Operators and Office Cashiers

Checkout Operators and Office Cashiers process the payments for goods and services rendered. They may operate cash registers and electronic scanners and collect payment from customers. They are required to process different methods of payment including cash, credit and check and should have high ethical standards to deal directly with cash flow.

Demonstrators Sales

Sales Demonstrators demonstrate the use of goods and products on behalf of producers or commercial stores. They may model clothing and accessories for stores or demonstrate the use of a new product to potential buyers. They should have excellent communication skills, matching consumer interests with goods and products or persuading consumers of the benefits to be gained by merchandises.

Door-to-Door Salespersons

Door-to-Door Salespersons travel door-to-door on scheduled routes selling goods or services. They should be able to engage strangers and convince them of the benefits from certain products and services. They must have excellent communication and negotiation skills.

Florists

Florists select and arrange fresh and dried flowers, foliage, as well as other decorative materials for bouquets and arrangements. Florists must have an aptitude for colour and design, and an extensive knowledge of the different varieties of flowers used in arrangements. This extensive knowledge should include the cultural and religious symbolism associated with various floral species. They require good communication and organisational skills, as well as an aesthetic sense for arranging.

Interviewers Surveys

Interviewers (Surveys) interview individuals and groups on their opinions and preferences for statistics and marketing research information. They must have excellent communication skills and be able to talk to strangers easily and perform repetitive tasks.

Managers Other Hospitality Retail and Service

Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers run the day to day operations of a variety of hospitality and retail businesses and organisations. They must ensure that the facility operates at high standards and adheres to all health and safety regulations.

Managers Retail

Retail Managers coordinate the operations of retail establishments. These operations may include purchasing, budgetary, personnel, equipment, logistical, or other matters.

Merchandisers

Merchandisers, also known as visual merchandisers or window dressers, showcase merchandise in windows to the best marketing advantage. They are responsible for planning, designing, and installing window decorations in stores, businesses, and other establishments.

Models and Sales Demonstrators

Models and Sales Demonstrators wear clothing to display it for sale. They also pose for photographs for advertisements. They may also demonstrate clothing and accessories at exhibitions such as runway shows, store openings, or fashion exhibitions.

Mystery Shoppers

Mystery Shoppers (Sales Support Workers) are consumers hired by market research companies, watchdog organizations, or companies themselves. They are responsible for going into retail outlets and taking notes on how their presence is handled. They purchase products, ask questions, or behave in certain ways, and report back on their experience.

Night Fillers

Night Fillers stock and supply retail and grocery stores with products and merchandise. They typically work late evenings and early mornings before and after store hours to avoid impeding customers from shopping. They should be efficient, able to work at a fast pace performing repetitive tasks.

Pharmacy Sales Assistants

Pharmacy Sales Assistants assist pharmacists by selling, processing, and retrieving prescriptions for customers. They also stock drugs, merchandise, and supplies while following strict standards. Pharmacy sales assistants interact directly with customers.

Retail and Wool Buyers

The job description of a retail buyer holds quite a few similarities to that of a wool buyer. While wool buyers are only tasked with assessing and purchasing wool, however, retail buyers must work in a variety of formats and assess and purchase a variety of goods for resale in retail establishments.

Retail Managers

Retail Managers coordinate the operations of retail establishment. These operations may include purchasing, budgetary, personnel, equipment, logistical, or other matters.

Retail Supervisors

Retail Supervisors work with the personnel of retail outlets. They supervise and coordinate employees of retail stores.

Sales Assistants General

Sales Assistants are employed in virtually every aspect of every industry and are essential for selling goods and services between parties. The core of their job is to assist customers and clients in the process of finding the goods and services that they need.

Sales Assistants Pharmacy

Pharmacy Sales Assistants sell a range of pharmaceutical goods ranging from drugs to household products. Pharmacy sales assistants can expect good working conditions in pharmacy locations where they will be expected to assist pharmacists and answer a variety of customer questions.

Sales Demonstrators and Models

A Sales Demonstrator or Model is expected to wear different articles of clothing or pose next to various consumer items. Often, sales demonstrators will work in stores and businesses to demonstrate how a good works or looks when being used. This career may involve traveling to various locations for photo shoots or demonstrations.

Sales Managers

Sales Managers organize the sales efforts of a team. In this capacity, Sales Managers establish goals and work to motivate their sales teams to meet them. Other responsibilities of sales managers include analysing data to improve productivity and developing new sales strategies based upon that data. They also help to train sales team members. The combination of these factors means that sales managers are often required to be excellent time managers who can juggle many different tasks.

Sales Representatives

A Sales Representative plays an important role in the economic life of any company. The role of the Sales Representative is to sell the goods and services of a business either to retailers or wholesalers. In this regard, these individuals work closely with customers to outline the functionality of different products and answer customer and prospective customer questions.

Sales Representative Technical

Technical Sales Representatives are salespeople that work in a range of different technical industries. These technical industries include, but are not limited to, selling the following types of goods: industrial equipment, business equipment, pharmaceutical goods, medical equipment and more.

Salespersons Motor Vehicle and Vehicle Parts

Motor Vehicle and Vehicle Parts Salespeople are responsible for selling a range of motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, boats, heavy equipment and other vehicles. Additionally, these professionals sell related parts for these vehicles. A great deal of this occupation involves helping customers find the products that they want in a timely fashion.

Salesperson Tickets

A Ticket Salesperson is responsible for selling tickets to consumers for a range of different events. Other responsibilities include making reservations or collecting fares for transportation. Frequently, Ticket Salespeople are employed at sporting events and movie theatres and other entertainment events. This position requires a great deal of interaction with the public.

Shop Managers

Shop Managers ensure that stores and shops function properly. The job includes managing and training employees and taking care of stock. They also will process sales and assist customers.

Stock Clerks

Stock clerks are responsible for receiving, storing and issuing equipment, materials and other items from or to a designated storage area. Stock Clerks need to keep records, monitor inventory levels and compile reports.

Storepersons

Storepersons receive, handle, store and issue goods in stores, stockrooms and warehouses. Storepersons unload trucks, organize goods and may be expected to use a computer to monitor stock.

Street Vendors and Related Salespersons

Street Vendors and Related Salespersons sell goods or services on a street, in a market, or door-to-door. Street Vendors obtain stock, sell goods, record transactions and promote their business.

Supervisors Retail

Supervisors (Retail) directly oversee the work of cashiers, customer service workers, stock clerks and other related workers. In addition, Supervisors (Retail) are responsible for purchasing, budgeting, maintaining financial records, and personnel work.

Survey Interviewers

Survey Interviewers conduct surveys or interviews for research purposes in person, via the internet, or over the telephone. Responses are recorded and compiled.

Tailors

Tailors work with patterns and free-hand to cut, sew, design and repair garments especially mens suits and clothing. They must have excellent cutting and sewing technique and be able to provide quality work. Tailors may fulfil individual customer orders or fit customers at retail establishments.

Trolley Collectors

Trolley Collectors (also known as Other Miscellaneous Labourers) work in the vicinity of supermarkets and other retail stores collecting trolleys and bringing them back to their appropriate locations. They should be able to perform repetitive tasks locating and returning trolleys.

Vehicle and Vehicle Parts Salespersons

Vehicle and Vehicle Parts Salespersons work in retail and wholesale institutions selling automobiles, boats, trailers, part replacements and accessories. They should have some knowledge of variations of automobiles and equipment for sale and engage customers to identify suitable products and maximise sales.

Vending Machine Attendants

Vending Machine Attendants distribute and change stock in vending or recreational machines, maintain equipment and collect money from vending machines. They may travel to several locations in a day to service vending machines.

Visual Merchandisers

Visual Merchandisers design and set up visual displays of products or services in retail settings. They should have visual creativity and design abilities to build displays that are original and visually appealing to customers. They may display new products, lines and promotional items.

Window Dressers

Window Dressers, also known as visual merchandisers, showcase merchandise in windows to the best marketing advantage. They are responsible for planning, designing, and installing window decorations in stores, businesses, and other establishments.

Wool Buyers

Wool Buyers are responsible for selecting and purchasing wool for use in retail and commercial outlets. They also work directly with wool growers to value the price of wool offered.

Professional associations and industry bodies

ARA Retail Institute 

Australian Retailers Association  

Master Grocers Association 

National Associated Retail Traders of Australia (NARTA) 

National Retail Association 

The Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA)

Skills and personality

  • Creativity to develop appealing displays and promotions
  • Dedication strategic planning to increase sales and meet goals
  • Enjoy working directly with people and helping them find items of interest
  • Exceptional customer service and sales abilities working with customers
  • Highly organised and able to multi-task performing different tasks checking out customers and restocking merchandise
  • Knowledge of merchandise and industry such as fashion, electronics and furniture
  • Leadership abilities managing staff and ensuring proper set up of goods and merchandise
  • Organisation and coordination skills stocking products and goods
  • Research and evaluation abilities assessing market prices and consumer trends