Various aspects of the HR function in retail

In any retail organization, the people who deal with the customers at a one to one level are considered the face of the organization. Thus, people who work at the store level are important. Hiring the persons with right attitude is important as in the case of most retail stores, the employees need to work long hours, and also need to work when the rest of the people may be on a holiday e.g. on Sundays or on occasions like Diwali, Christmas etc. Secondly the retailer needs to have the persons with the right skill sets taking care of functions like buying and merchandising, as the product is the key in a retail set up.

In this section, we examine various aspects of human resources function in retail.

The Human Resources function in retail involves:

1. Identifying various roles in the organization.
2. Recruiting the persons with right attitude to fit the jobs.
3. Training
4. Motivation of employees
5. Evaluation of employee performance.

Identifying the various roles in the organization:

The first step starts with the identification of the various tasks or jobs that need to be performed in the organization. This helps in determining the number of people required from various jobs, the skill sets and educational background needed and the location, where they are doing to be based depending on the organization structure defined and the size of the retail operation.

Key tasks in a typical retail organization involve:

1) Buying and merchandising
2) Store management and operations, and
3) Technology support.

It is necessary that persons with the right attitude and skill sets are recruited for the above mentioned functions as they are the key in any retail organization. While professional qualifications for the various tasks are important, it is also necessary to hire persons who understand consumer trends and technology and what it can provide. This is extremely important, as traditionally retail has been one of the oldest users of information technology.

Recruitment and Selection:

After determining the tasks to be performed within the organization, the jobs need to be categorized on the basis of the functional or geographic needs. The aim of the recruitment process is to make available job applicants for a specified job/s. Common ways of recruitment include newspaper advertisements, visits to colleges, existing employees, references, recruitment agencies and even websites.

Many organizations create an application blank, which has to be filled in by the applicant and gives the details of education, work, hobbies and family background. It helps the organization obtain information about the applicant in standard and structured manner. Once the applications are received, they are screened on the basis of parameters that are important to the retailer. This serves as the primary basis for acceptance or rejection of the candidate.

In case of most of the organizations, the candidates who are short listed on the basis of the bio data or application blank are called for a personal interview. A personal interview enables the interviewer gauge the attitude of the person and his suitability for the desired job. Depending on the position applied for, the selection procedure may comprise of one or more interviews. When the candidate passes the interviews stage, reference checks may be done and the final decision is taken.


Training is an important aspect of human resource management in retail. Typically, in retail training needs arise at the following points:

1) Induction new persons / staff into the organization
2) Training of sales staff, as they are the persons who are in direct contact with the customers.
3) Training of staff / personnel for skill enhancements.

When new persons join any organization, an induction program is conducted. The purpose of such an induction program is to familiarize the new entrants about the organization’s policies and methods of doing business.

In retail special importance is given to the training of sales staff as they are commonly termed as the face of the organization.