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Retail Experience Advice?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by IChen, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. IChen

    IChen Senior member

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    Hello! Going to ramble on but...TLDR: I'm looking for some retail experience, maybe some advice about what kind of opportunities open up in the future? Is anyone here a Buyer or a Store Manager that can give some advice on how "tough" the job responsibilities are? Is it a big difference working in more high end luxury boutiques?



    I'm really leaning towards a career in retail, after having finished up my summer internship at State Street Global Advisors. I worked as a pricing specialist, helping the CFA's decide on prices for the options, shorts, stocks, etc.

    Currently, I'm working as a part time in Lord & Taylor to get some retail experience and for some reason, being a sales associate was more fun than working in finance. I currently have some time to carefully decide on whether I want to work at Saks for men's clothing or Ferragamo.

    I understand being in retail would make me much less than what I could make if I were successful in finance, but retail just seems much more exciting at this time.
    If anyone could please give me some advice and experience in retail experiences, it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. i_pod_sux

    i_pod_sux Active Member

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    :uhoh:
     
  3. CalTex

    CalTex Senior member

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    Are you still in school?
     
  4. IChen

    IChen Senior member

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    Yes. I'm just looking for some tips, if anyone has gone beyond being a sales associate into maybe a buyer or manager and what it was like.
     
  5. ballmouse

    ballmouse Senior member

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    You could look into a financial analyst role at one of the department stores (Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc.). It would be very helpful if you knew someone in the finance department and had them give you an internship for a couple weeks since the hiring process isn't too structured from what I've seen.
     
  6. tacobender

    tacobender Senior member

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    "but retail just seems much more exciting at this time"

    The excitement never ends!
     
  7. Blackhood

    Blackhood Senior member

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    If you enjoy it, retail can be one of the most rewarding careers out there, but if you dislike it you might as well be in hell.

    I've been in retail about 10 years and am looking to get out at this time, but this might give you a good idea of the day to day difficulties:

    Entry level is very poorly paid, but if you earn commission (many shops don't) then you can be very profitable. I've worked in jobs where the basic salary is £14,000 but I also made another £16,000 in commission because I was good. This is great when you're young, but try telling a bank that your income is more than 50% dependent on performance and watch them laugh while denying your mortgage.

    Retail is 7 days a week. This can work out great or terrible; I hate being outside on a Saturday - there are millions of people cluttering the streets and even the biggest shops have lines that last forever. For me working weekends is great, I do all my "down time" stuff on Mondays and Tuesdays when its quiet.

    You will be on your feet all day. I've known people to quit just over this aspect- it takes a serious toll on your body but if you can handle it then you'll be fine.

    The upsides are that you never really take your work home with you; nothing is so game-changing in retail that you'll be working on it for months.

    In management and high positions, especially for luxury retail the money and benefits are very good and if you're talented then you could easily reach very high levels with no education at all. I know people who dropped out of school at 16, joined a shop, became manager, area manager, regional manager and finally directors on the board within about 10 years.

    It is a hard life, and many people will look down on you for not having a "proper job" but it can be very rewarding; the people you meet, the places you travel and the products you sell can all make for a very fulfilled lifestyle.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. tacobender

    tacobender Senior member

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    I always do, my work email goes right to my phone. Ask style forumers how fast I respond to emails...I'm off today and emailing stock requests. I don't mind and it is not a requirement. But clients really appreciate the speedy service.
     
  9. IChen

    IChen Senior member

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    Thanks for the responses!

    Is being a manager or area manager really complicated? I noticed that many managers are there to do the paperwork on receiving/stock/sales and also sometimes do a little selling. Are there any tips or difficulties about working at more luxury or high end stores I should know about? I currently really enjoy retail and am trying to learn as much tricks as I can [​IMG] for the future :D
     
  10. tacobender

    tacobender Senior member

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    I am going to tread carefully and speak from prior experience...

    1. First thought is managers were successful sales people, who can help coach/train/motivate a sales team.

    2. Second thought: Managers played the game well, and are not always the best sales person...Think about the challenge in promoting your #1 sales person to a non selling role, where they are no just receiving merchandise, doing stock work, markdowns, etc....a store director doesn't always want to cut themselves off at the knees by removing someone generating $ for the store. For the most part a #1 salesperson enjoys selling and doesn't want to be removed from the floor.

    As for tips. Luxury retail is a skill. I have seen people come thru stores I work at and instantly I can tell that they are in the wrong environment. Likewise, right now there is someone at target providing fantastic speedy service taking pride in their area's appearance and their own personal appearance who would probably make for a great sales person at a high end store someday.
     
  11. Naka

    Naka Senior member

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    Just like any other job, try to stay one step ahead of everything. If you're working in a big name luxury store alot of the work is already done for you in terms of stock/promotions/vm. If you're still in a junior position focus on your salesmanship, managing in retail is more about social skills than the work itself.
     
  12. IChen

    IChen Senior member

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    Thanks! Interesting thoughts in terms of management and promotions.
     
  13. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Worst part is tht you can be making $75k and everyone still thinks your a $10/hr shmuck. They don't realize that you are a $75k schmuck. Some people in the cities make 90-100k and some over $200k but it is more rare.

    You work holidays and weekends even as management, you are customer facing...even as management. If you work for a good company you received a great discount which can be helpful if you like the merc, or terrible if you hate the merc but are supposed to wear it.

    Promotions are usually there for the person who best tows the company line and is a moderate to good seller. You have to work much harder than most will give you credit for and the job of selling is often filled with surprises, good and bad. The skills are transferrable to other sales fields.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  14. ahdaeeeee

    ahdaeeeee Well-Known Member

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    Interesting thoughts, never know such insights of the retail industry.. Could learn a bunch here! Thanks!
     
  15. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior member

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    From high school drop out to a 26 year director on the board huh?

    sorry, but bullshit to the max.
     
  16. CalTex

    CalTex Senior member

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    +1

    But some people do surprise me, a friend of mine blew off undergrad to start a non profit and it's doing very well now. (501(c)3 status)

    Friend of mine dropped out of undergrad and now makes bank working for microsoft, but he is smart and 36/38 years old.

    BUT a 26 year old director, either the guy is well connected (mommy and daddy connections) OR a fucking networking GOD and smart. I still find it hard to believe though. BUT if your friend did it, congrats to him BUT OP please keep in mind that does not happen very often. Plus a university degree serves as a backup plan, you can get by with a degree making 50k a year.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  17. Find Finn

    Find Finn Senior member

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    I would look in to sales instead of retail, BtB sales is so much exciting (see Globertrotter).

    I worked retail while in school and the worst thing about it was the customers, I don't know why but people tend to think it's okay to be a GIANT idiot, when they are shopping and treat people like shit, I had a customer try to punch me once, for something I had nothing to do with, my boss told me afterwards, that I was allowed to hit back (this info should part of the interview).
     
  18. Blackhood

    Blackhood Senior member

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    I think I should have added a few caveats; the chain in question is a small one (5 shops with a radius of about 75 miles) and the reason the progression was swift was due to natural talent. The guy knew and understood his customers, was able to buy the stock they wanted and move what stock he had. I'm in no way suggesting that after a few years as a shop assistant at Top Shop you'll be working at Arcadia head offices. Having said that, the guy makes a good living, draws profits (and I suppose losses if they occur) and has made a decent career out of a "dead end job".

    Don't for a second think that you'll be a retail mogul before you're 40 and own your own jet.
     
  19. CalTex

    CalTex Senior member

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    Is this company your considering in Houston?
     
  20. idfnl

    idfnl Senior member

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    High school or college?



    You'd also be amazed at what some waiters and bartenders earn.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012

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