Retail sector: skills matrix
What job roles are on offer?
India employs about 22 million people in retail. Some 8 million more jobs are expected by 2011. The limbs on which the industry stands are retail sales, store management, stock management, supply chain management, warehousing and operations. The bulk of the demand in organised retail is for frontliners, who comprise shop floor executives, sales executives, etc. These are the people who interact directly with the customer and comprise about four-fifths of the workforce. Fresh graduates can easily fill these roles. The other jobs include those for store managers, store planners, cashiers, stockists, logistics, operations, distribution, marketing, finance, human resources and IT roles.
What are the skills required?
Retailing has and will remain an industry that follows the maxim of hard-selling. It is hard-selling of space, stock, merchandise and relationships. So the roles the industry has to offer revolve around activities that enable this. For this, front-end sales people and store managers require a positive attitude, confidence, good communication skills, good interpersonal skills, an ability to persuade and an ability to build rapport instantly. Stock planners, operations, logistics staff and cashiers, on the other hand, require not only basic communication and interpersonal skills, but also need to be good with numbers and be attentive to detail. A MeritTrac study reveals that retail customers accord importance to clarity of thought and presentation, communication skills, listening comprehension and mannerisms.
What levels are assessments used for?
The bulk of the demand is for frontline sales people, which mostly means ‘freshers’. Though a latecomer on the hiring line, retail is catching up with business process outsourcing in terms of the numbers it needs to lap up in the next two years.
What are the assessments used?
All front-end people go through assessments that test them on attitude, ability to handle different customer situations, ability to persuade, and, at times, the ability to sell more to a customer. Most assessments are descriptive or task-based. Descriptive assessments involve questions on the aptitude for hard-selling, customer orientation etc. In task-based assessments, a situation is presented and the individual’s responses and creative thinking are tested real-time. Those in buying, merchandising and store planning are tested on numerical ability, eye for detail and analytical ability.