A retail supervisor is an employee in a retail business that is typically responsible for overseeing other employees, primarily sales staff and possibly other workers. Supervisors usually work for managers, though sometimes the term is referring to the title of manager. In the former capacity, these employees carry out the requests of management in motivating, training and possibly disciplining employees. They also may be the go between of management and sales, getting each side to understand the needs of the other.
Some people who work as a retail supervisor have advanced education and might hold a bachelor’s degree in fashion, merchandising, general business or another field. This is by no means a requirement for all retail supervisor jobs. Many people who begin careers in retail in sales departments prove by their skill and trustworthiness to be excellent candidates for supervisors. Lots of retail companies make a point of promoting from within, which means most supervisors were formerly salespeople.
There can be great advantage to this form of promotion. In order for the retail supervisor to adequately train and understand the needs of employees, experience is often required. If the supervisor knows what it’s like to be a sales associate, he or she can use that knowledge to best implement positive change in a department or store. Of course, managers at this level usually must clear all programs or improvement projects with upper level management.
There are a number of things the retail supervisor might do on a regular basis. Overseeing employees is the first of these, to look for high levels of customer service, to be certain that employees commit no illegal activities, since stock loss from inside theft can be a problem, and to make sure employees make the most of their time without committing costly errors. In this watchful pose, supervisors may also target employees for additional training or be the point of contact when employees have day-to-day or emergency issues. These workers could be empowered to make decisions the average salesperson cannot make, like on when to accept a return or to discount something for sale, and they also could intervene and support employees who are working with difficult customers.
Additional work of the retail supervisor may very much depend on employer. Some supervisors schedule, perform stock inventory, merchandise, or are responsible for bookkeeping. Others may have the job of supervisor without having that much extra responsibility. They might only be responsible for things like performing returns or for providing a little extra employee training.