Job Functions of An Hourly Sales Associate in Retail Sales

The sales associate is the most specific agent of control in a retail store, and is the most likely person to be able to help a customer find an item.

The hourly sales associate is the final link in a massive chain of personnel that exist to stock and maintain goods in retail stores. Associates have two true primary functions: stocking and customer service. All tasks fall underneath these two categories. While each store operates differently, the basic function of a store is as a gigantic stockroom. Flashy price signs, displays, endcaps, and merchandise are designed to distract the consumer from this evil plot; a store, simply put, is a storage bin in which the employees must attempt to cram as many of the fine goods they purvey as possible.

Though each store uses different software, all stores now have computerized inventories. Have you ever seen employees walking around with large scanning guns? These guns contain the store's inventory program, and they are understandably difficult for employees to get privileges to unless their job function becomes expanded to include the use of pricing. Obviously, managers do not want just anyone to have the capability to alter prices, because there is a very specific method of creating items and pricing them, and stocking items at the wrong prices can cause problems. Therefore, pricing is typically not within the associate's job description.

What is within the associate's job description is to make sure that merchandise displays the correct price. It is this aspect of the job that means a toys sales associate is more likely than anyone else in the store to know where items in his or her department are. As a customer searching for an item, you will get the best results if you ask an employee close to the department in question. A garden center associate, for example, is a long way from the grocery department and rarely spends any time there.

It is the sales associate's job to pull freight from receiving (where goods are pulled in off trailers) and stock it into the department's shelves. Most freight already exists somewhere in the department, but new items appear from time to time. As much of the freight must be put out as possible, and extra can be put into overstock areas (these are areas that do not have a specific mod or planogram and can be freely stocked with merchandise). Each item does have a specific place, however, and the associate does not choose where to put it.

The mod or planogram is a computerized simulation designed to model exactly what needs to be on the shelves. A mod is a printout with a rough graphical estimation of store shelves; it can get very specific: some mods describe an exact position of shelving in regard to the number of holes from the top or bottom. Ever wondered what all that extra stuff is on a price tag? It's an inventory code, a mod number (a time and date group for when the tag was last updated), and a position code in a format something similar to XXXX-XXXX-XXXX. Simply put, XXXX-XXXX-XXXX comes right before XXXX-XXXX-XXXY. Over time, customers move items and things get shuffled out of place for various reasons, and it is fixing displays that a sales associate spends the vast majority of time on. This is referred to as zoning.

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Posted on Aug 3, 2010