While much of the supply chain works behind the scenes in warehouses or behind the wheel of a truck, the face of the supply chain is retail. From the greeters at the front of the store to the cashiers at the end of your trip, a career in retail can put you on the front lines of the supply chain.
Retail Jobs in the Supply Chain (Part 3)
Critical shortages and bottlenecks in the supply chain recently have pushed these industries into the headlines and retail employees can provide the customer education and calming influence needed to make the current situation as efficient and smooth as possible.
Front of the Store
As the face of this key piece in a vital part of our national economy, retail employees at the front of the store are expected to provide exceptional customer service in high activity and high energy situations. Some of the retail jobs at the front of a retail store are:
Cashier - Often the employees customers interact most with, a cashier is the face of many retail establishments. Cashiers are a common entry-level step in the career ladder that offer ample opportunities for growth and advancement.
Loss Prevention Specialist - Whether working in uniform or dressed in street clothes, loss prevention specialists provide security services and help prevent theft. While patrolling the store floor, they monitor customers using standard surveillance methods. Other specialists work from security offices using cameras or other digital equipment. In addition to monitoring customers, loss prevention specialists also make sure employees aren’t stealing items that may be in short supply and should be going to customers.
Retail Manager - These roles can include assistant managers, who also work roles as cashiers and stockers, as well as higher level store managers. Regardless of the management level, the key responsibility of a retail manager is to make sure the store runs smoothly. They monitor staff and customers to ensure peak efficiency and top-tier customer service. They hire, train, motivate, and schedule employees to appropriate levels given customer traffic trends. Retail managers also deal with the escalation of customer issues as needed.
Back of the Store
If regular face-to-face contact and customer interaction isn’t at the top of your wish list for a career, there are a number of jobs in the back office that can help support the front line operations. Many of these back of the store jobs require further education and experience and can include:
Consumer Supply Chain Manager - Consumer supply chain managers find ways to make their supply chains more competitive. They improve efficiency, flexibility, and responsiveness. Using extensive operational knowledge, digital technologies, analytics, and industry-specific these key employees improve operations, product acquisition, and material flow across the entire supply chain.
Retail Buyers/Merchandiser - Retail buyers and merchandisers ensure that the right amount of stock is available on store shelves at the right price. They use planning tools and software, careful purchasing, and savvy promotions to increase traffic and profits. Merchandisers also assess the individual needs of stores rather than the whole chain based on store size and their target demographic.
Retail Application Analyst - These digital-focused employees work on the development, management, and delivery of digital and other application capabilities that support the supply chain. Typical duties include analyzing and configuring systems and processes as well as time and cost estimates for software delivery and releases. These savvy analysts also play key roles in developing corporate software requirements and identifying systems solutions to address key business objectives.
Retail Engineer - Retail engineers build and operate software that enables automation at various spots across the supply chain to assist product movement to stores and customers. They also maintain relationships with vendors and oversee a company's supply chain and logistics strategy to maximize efficiency and productivity.
More than almost any other sector in this series of supply chain careers, the retail sector makes extensive use of seasonal employees. Seasonal work can include holiday seasons such as Black Friday, Christmas, or more traditional seasonal work periods such as summer. These seasons provide opportunities for workers to jump in and lend a hand to ease temporary supply chain issues and customer crowds without committing to a full-time career in retail.
Typical seasonal retail jobs last 2-5 months and include many of the front of the store job categories listed above. More specific seasonal jobs can include:
Gift Wrapper - Using wrapping paper, ribbons, or other decorations gift wrappers improve the final look of products bought as gifts. Most jobs in this field are only available, but some stores offer these services year-round for interested employees. Depending on the store, gift wrappers may also be responsible for additional tasks such as verifying orders in the computer system, wrapping items before packaging them for shipping, and restocking the wrapping station.
Seasonal Resort Staff - In the winter this can include ski and ice skating resorts and complexes and in the summer this can include camps, museums, and beaches. Seasonal resort jobs are focused both on customer experience as well as the traditional retail goals of increased sales. Seasonal jobs such as tour guide, front desk staff, and even instructional jobs also include a sales aspect in the retail field and many of these jobs offer a commission in addition to the base pay.
Pop Up Store Staff - Some stores themselves are seasonal. The most famous of these are the Halloween stores that pop up in the fall and the candy and gift stores that pop up around the winter holiday season. Pop up stores tend to have smaller staffs than traditional retail operations and pop up store staff should be prepared for a wider variety of job responsibilities that may include being a cashier, manager, and stocker, security, and maintenance all in the same week.
As the face of the supply chain for most customers, retail employees can step up in a time of national crisis. If working one of these great jobs along the supply chain could be your calling. RetailGig and our partner platforms, WarehouseGig and DriverWave, can help you find the match between your career interests and current opportunities in the supply chain.