A good education is the foundation for a successful career in retail. Just like in other industry sectors, the options are becoming more varied. The career entry can be both managed via on-the-job training or apprenticeships and retail-oriented university studies. One thing to remember even after a successful career start is that only those who continue to educate themselves and remain up-to-date will be successful – especially due to the various changes in retail.
The percentage of graduates in retail has continued to increase for several years. This is due to the increasing complexity of processes thanks to the interconnection of channels in multichannel retailing. Employees need to manage job requirements that are ever changing and becoming more and more demanding. New products require new product knowledge; business process modernization requires business know-how; the penetration of retail with new technology calls for IT competence, while customer orientation necessitates sales competency.
Sales assistant and retail merchant are the most popular types of training
Even though retailers offer training in a wide variety of professions, according to the HDE, the most important job trainings in retail are still sales assistant in retail (currently approximately 66,000 apprentices) and retail merchant (currently approximately 48,000 apprentices). Almost three-quarters of all trainees in retail train for one of these two professions, which prepare them for the varied tasks and managerial functions.
During their training, students become acquainted with the fundamental areas of operation. These include sales and customer service for instance, use of inventory management systems, visual merchandising and the further development of product lines. This makes the sales assistant and retail merchant education an important prerequisite to further a career with continuing education.
Preparing employees for multichannel commerce
Even though future employees of retail companies learn the basic skills they need in their field of work, they still need more specialized knowledge to face the new challenges of multichannel commerce. At this point, a variety of training programs and continuing education options teach these skills.
Among others, these include the new ”Bachelor in Retail Management“ degree program, which will start in January 2015. “In collaboration with the DIHK (the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce), we created the new Bachelor in Retail Management degree, which specifically addresses the multichannel commerce requirements,“ says Wilfried Malcher, Managing Director of the German Retail Association HDE.
In terms of content, primarily the e-commerce skill-set and its link to brick-and-mortar retail have been significantly expanded. The new degree program is particularly geared towards retailers, who are active in both online and offline retailing and require suitable talents at the retail management level.
“The future managers study the various interfaces in multichannel commerce between the IT world, logistics including acquisition, business administration and category management,” Malcher explains. Starting in 2015, Chamber of Commerce members can conduct exams in this new degree program.