Article: Shops and Distribution
This article covers the following jobs:
- Car Salesperson
- Checkout Operator
- Distribution Manager
- Freight Forwarder
- Lorry Driver
- Market Stall Trader
- Personal Shopper
- Retail Assistant
- Retail Buyer
- Retail Manager
- Retail Merchandiser
- Retail Store Demonstrator
- Road Transport Manager
- Shelf Filler
- Visual Merchandiser
- Warehouse Clerk
- Warehouse Manager
- Warehouse Operative
- Wholesale Manager.
The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.
Video: - Various: Shops and Distribution
Wholesale outlets buy goods in large quantities from manufacturers and sell them to retail outlets who, in turn, sell them on to the general public. Wholesalers might sell a wide range of goods or specialise in particular types, such as groceries, gifts, electrical items, clothing, flowers, or fruit and vegetables.
Wholesale managers organise and control the flow of goods and the duties of staff in a wholesale organisation.
Managers are responsible for making sure that the right goods are delivered on time and that they are stored properly in their warehouses. They then make sure that goods are sent out to customers at the right time and in the right numbers.
Other duties include organising transport contracts, dealing with financial matters and supervising staff.
Some wholesale managers are in charge of a cash and carry store where business customers come to choose their own goods.
Large wholesale organisations recruit trainees with A levels or a degree. Other smaller stores might promote current employees who can show that they have the right skills and abilities.
Checkout operators sit at a till, taking payments from customers for goods bought. They enter the price of each item, usually using an electronic scanner.
They deal with cash, and credit and debit cards, and have to give change accurately. They might have to stand up to scan large boxes of goods. Some customers might have credit accounts and will need a VAT receipt.
Basic English and maths are usually required for this job.
Shelf fillers are responsible for stocking up shelves with fresh supplies. They collect goods from the stockroom, cold store or delivery area and arrange them neatly and safely in bays, on shelves or in display counters. They might have to follow a printed chart that shows where all the items should be displayed.
Some shelf fillers might have to put price tickets on the goods, although it is now very common to use barcodes to check prices.
They have to remember to 'rotate' the stock. This means they have to put the newest stock at the back of the shelf so the older stock gets sold first. By doing this, they reduce the chance of having stock left that is past its sell-by date and cannot be sold.
No formal qualifications are needed for entry to this job, although some employers might ask for basic English and maths.
Goods are bought
Retail organisations have to decide what goods they should be ordering so that they can maximise their profits. They analyse what people want or need, then they buy them from a wholesale outlet or direct from the manufacturer.
Retail merchandisers make sure that the correct range and mix of products is ordered, stocked and displayed in a way that will achieve the best sales for their company. They analyse sales information and liaise closely with buyers, store managers and suppliers.
Together with buyers, merchandisers decide what products should be in stock for each type and size of store. They find out how customers react to certain products and they forecast trends. They might also produce layout plans for stores.
To enter this job, you are likely to need a degree, although people with A levels might also be able to enter.
Retail buyers buy goods from wholesalers, manufacturers, importers and fashion houses, so that their organisation can sell them at a profit. They visit trade shows and warehouses, and see representatives who call to show them samples and catalogues.
The buyer has to get the right goods, at the right price, to the right place at the right time. To do this, they must stick to their budget and work out if the goods will sell once the firm has added its mark-up to the price. They agree contracts, set quality standards, arrange delivery dates and then monitor how well the goods sell.
To enter this job, you are likely to need a degree; applicants with a degree in retailing, supply chain management or business could have an advantage.
Goods are distributed
When the retail organisation has placed an order with the wholesaler or supplier, the goods are packaged and dispatched. They might need to be held in a storage area until they are needed.
Lorry or large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers are responsible for the delivery and collection of goods throughout the UK and on the Continent. They load the lorry (making sure that the load is secure), drive the lorry and contents to its destination, and then unload.
Drivers have to plan the quickest route and keep records of mileage and deliveries. They must make sure that they follow rules concerning how fast they should drive and for how long. Some drivers carry potentially dangerous loads, such as hazardous chemicals.
Entrants must possess an LGV licence and have an excellent driving record. To gain an LGV driving licence, you must pass a test comprising theory and practical elements.
Some people enter this career via a Driving Goods Vehicles Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
Distribution managers are responsible for the timely and cost-effective distribution of goods or raw materials. They work in manufacturing, retail and wholesale companies. Distribution managers' duties vary according to the size and type of organisation they work for. They might be called logistics managers.
They might be responsible for warehousing, stock control, order processing and packaging. They analyse data, plan and schedule deliveries, manage staff and control the operation of fleets of vehicles (if the company does not have a road transport manager).
If the company does not have its own vehicles, the distribution manager has to contract out the transport work to a specialist company.
To enter this job, you are likely to need a degree or HND.
Road Transport Manager
Road transport managers who work in freight transport might also be known as commercial or operations managers. They are responsible for a fleet of vehicles and their drivers and make sure that customers get their deliveries on time and in good condition.
Road transport managers make sure that vehicles are roadworthy and meet legal requirements. They supervise the drivers and make sure that they know where they are going and when they have to be there. Some managers might be involved in recruiting staff and buying and selling vehicles.
Job opportunities depend on the size of the company. For anyone wanting to be a transport manager, it is very useful to hold the Certificate of Professional Competency (CPC). This can be studied on a part-time basis at local colleges, or by distance learning.
New entrants are sometimes graduates. Larger, national companies are more willing to recruit people with degrees to management training schemes. Small businesses may prefer to recruit road transport managers from existing employees.
You may be able to train on-the-job while studying for the examinations of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Specialist degrees in transport management, or planning and transport are available.
It's possible to get into this career via an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Logistics Operations Management.
Freight forwarders arrange the movement of cargo in and out of the country, making sure that it is done as quickly, efficiently and economically as possible.
Freight forwarders complete paperwork when selecting routes and booking cargo space. They spend a lot of time on the telephone, sending faxes and emails, writing letters and collecting and filing information.
It is possible to enter this kind of work directly from school and train on-the-job. However, some freight forwarders have high level qualifications, such as A levels or degrees.
You can also get into this career via a Logistics Operations Management Advanced Level Apprenticeship.
Goods are stored
When the goods reach the retailer, they have to be stored somewhere until they can be displayed and sold. Some retail outlets have warehouses on-site, while others store the bulk of their stock in a central warehouse and just keep what is needed immediately in the store.
Warehouse operatives receive, store and send out goods from a warehouse. They check all goods coming in and going out, to make sure none are damaged or missing. Within the warehouse, they decide where goods should be stored, and keep records of what stock they hold.
When an order is received, warehouse operatives pick goods from the warehouse and prepare and pack them for delivery.
You do not usually need any formal qualifications to enter this job, but basic English, maths and IT skills are useful.
Some people enter this career following a Warehousing and Storage Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
Warehouse clerks/administrative assistants handle the administration work in warehouses. They could be based in an office or spend much of their time in the warehouse itself.
Usually, warehouse clerks are responsible for dealing with records relating to the warehouse stock. They deal with goods notes when stock is delivered, keep a record of the stock held at the warehouse (and where it is stored), and prepare invoices.
They might be responsible for ordering goods and choosing an area in the warehouse to store them, although a warehouse assistant may do this work. Warehouse clerks often use computers to produce lists of goods to be picked out for delivery or to store customers' addresses, for example.
There are no formal academic entry requirements, although employers might ask for some GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths.
Warehouse managers are responsible for the day-to-day running of warehouses. They decide how best to store goods in the warehouse; they schedule deliveries, and keep a record of goods arriving and leaving.
Warehouse managers make sure that goods are stacked and stored according to any special requirements, for example, they may be fragile. They are responsible for supervising staff and making sure that they follow safety and security rules.
Some people enter warehouse work as assistants and gain promotion to a management position after several years moving between companies. However, this is no longer the normal entry route.
Many warehouse managers enter employment as trainees with A levels or equivalent qualifications.
Some enter with higher level qualifications such as foundation degrees, HNDs/degrees and train on-the-job with their employer for around two or three years.
Some people enter this career following an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Logistics Operations Management.
Goods are sold
Retail outlets sell goods to members of the public. There are various careers in retailing concerned with the best way to position, display or demonstrate goods in the shop to attract buyers, as well as those directly involved in the sale of goods.
Car salespeople sell new and used vehicles to individuals and businesses. They work for dealerships and car supermarkets, and the cars they sell are displayed in showrooms or on forecourts.
They find out what sort of vehicle the customer wants, take them for a test drive, value cars for part-exchange and negotiate a selling price.
There are no minimum qualifications needed to become a car salesperson, though some employers might ask for GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths. You usually need a full driving licence.
Retail assistants serve customers in shops. They operate cash tills and take payment from customers for the goods they buy. They have to deal with cash and credit/debit cards.
Retail assistants check that goods are displayed properly on the shelves and are correctly priced. They also answer queries and advise customers on goods.
Stock control and keeping records could be the responsibility of some retail assistants. They might also have to deal with telephone calls from customers or suppliers.
You might need some GCSEs at grade C or above, including Maths and English.
Retail managers control the day-to-day running of a store. Their main aim is to improve profits. They must make sure that sales targets are met, while keeping their operating costs within a budget.
Retail managers lead and motivate teams, monitor staff rotas, hold staff meetings, report on sales figures and deal with some customer queries.
They might have to open up the store in the morning and make sure it is ready to trade, as well as close the store in the evening, making their day a long one. In large stores, there might be a group of managers, each responsible for their own department.
The requirements for entry to this job vary depending on the type of management training available. Some stores recruit people with A levels; others prefer to recruit those with a degree or Higher National Diploma.
It is possible to enter as a retail assistant with GCSEs and work your way up; this could be a lengthy training route.
Market Stall Trader
Market stall traders sell goods to the public. They spend most of their time standing at a stall, dealing directly with their customers. Market stall traders buy their goods from a wholesaler or manufacturer, rent a market stall or space, and display the goods to attract customers.
Sometimes they have to set up their own stalls. Most markets have rules that traders have to follow, usually about the range of goods being sold. Casual traders travel around from market to market on different days.
Basic English and maths are usually required for this job. You'll need a driving licence and vehicle if you have to transport heavy or bulky goods. Traders selling certain food items will need to have a basic food hygiene certificate.
Visual merchandisers design and create window and floor displays for shops. Their displays are used to encourage and promote sales, and make stores attractive places to shop in.
Typical projects might include dressing the window of a clothes shop or re-creating a fully furnished room on the floor of a furniture shop or department.
Large retail stores usually have a central design team that is responsible for planning and co-ordinating displays for all their employer's retail outlets. They produce plans, drawings, instructions and photos of displays and send them out to all the relevant shops. Sales assistants then use the plans to re-create the display in their own store.
To enter this job, you usually need a relevant qualification, such as those offered by the British Display Society (BDS).
Checkout operators sit or stand at a till in a shop or supermarket, taking payments from customers for goods bought. They pass each item over an electronic scanner.
They deal with cash as well as credit and debit cards, and have to be able to give change accurately. They might also have to wrap goods, weigh produce and pack shopping bags.
In larger supermarkets, there are usually some self-service checkouts where customers scan their own items. Here, one checkout operator can oversee several checkouts at once, helping customers if they need assistance.
Basic English and maths are usually required for this job.
Shelf fillers work in shops and supermarkets, where they are responsible for stocking shelves with fresh supplies. They collect goods from the warehouse, stockroom or cold store and arrange them neatly and safely on the shelf or display counter. They might have to follow a printed chart that shows where all the items should be displayed.
Some shelf fillers might have to put price tickets on the goods, although it is now much more common to use barcodes to check prices.
Shelf fillers have to remember to 'rotate' the stock. This means they have to put the newest stock at the back of the shelf so the older stock gets sold first. By doing this, they reduce the chance of having stock left that is past its sell-by date and cannot be sold.
To enter this job, you might not need any qualifications, although some employers might ask for basic English and maths.
Some large department stores or fashion clothing stores employ personal shoppers to help customers to choose items.
First, they ask questions to find out what the customer wants and how much they would like to spend. Then, they go round the store and find things for the customer to try. They give advice about which clothes suit them.
Some personal shoppers have worked as retail assistants, usually in retail fashion. Others have trained as image or beauty consultants.
There are no formal minimum entry requirements, but some employers might prefer applicants with GCSEs in English and Maths.
Retail Store Demonstrator
Retail store demonstrators work in many areas of the retail industry, including department stores, supermarkets, toy shops and DIY outlets. They might also be known as product demonstrators or in-store demonstrators.
The job involves demonstrating and promoting products to the public with a view to increasing the sales of a particular brand or line. Items vary from kitchen appliances and beauty products to food and drink, toys, gadgets, tools or electronic equipment, for example.
Store demonstrators might use a microphone to attract customers' attention. They must be able to answer all kinds of questions relating to the product. They usually have to keep records.
The job usually involves travelling to different retail outlets and setting up the demonstration area. You are likely to need a full driving licence.
You do not usually need any formal qualifications to enter this job. If you are demonstrating food products, you usually need to have a basic food hygiene certificate.
Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK)
Address: Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 4AX
Tel: 01536 740100
Careers in Logistics
Address: Langstone Technology Park, Langstone Road, Havant, Hampshire PO9 1SA
Tel: 0844 5619149
Road Haulage Association (RHA)
Address: Roadway House, Bretton Way, Bretton, Peterborough PE3 8DD
Tel: 01733 261456
Skills for Logistics
Skills for the freight logistic industry
Tel: 0117 927 8800
Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)
Address: Grange Lane, Letchmore Heath, Watford, Hertfordshire WD25 8GD
Tel: 01923 857141
A Career in Retail
Retail, fashion and hospitality industries
Tel: 020 8340 3366
Address: 4th Floor, 93 Newman Street, London W1T 3EZ
Tel: 020 7462 5060