Do you think of yourself as a ‘people person’, someone who’d enjoy providing information and advice to people looking to buy a product or service? Or, maybe you’d prefer to negotiate with suppliers to get the best deal for your company or employer? If either option applies, then this career area may be a good choice. Whether you are dealing with customers or suppliers you need to have good communication skills, a confident and positive outlook, and the ability to deal with complaints while you are busy.
The retail industry remains the UK’s largest private sector employer, with around 3 million employees, with a turnover of over £421 billion a year in sales.
As buying and selling affects most types of business, a wide variety of careers are available. Jobs and courses are split into three sectors: buying; call centres; and retail and sales.
To see the routes to getting into each of these sectors, take a look at our Career Pathway.
Of the huge range of companies to work for, possible employers include:
The buying, selling and related work industry is one of the biggest employers in Scotland, with the retail sector alone remaining Scotland’s largest private sector employer. Around 240,000 people work in this area across 14,000 retail businesses, accounting for 13.7% of all employment in Scotland. It is one of the largest contributors to the economy, and in 2019 produced an annual turnover of £23.1 billion.
The latest figures (2021) report that there are around 6,000 call centres in the UK with some 800,000 agent positions. With the increased use of automated digital channels and the intended implementation of artificial intelligence, self service and the ongoing effects of Brexit, it is predicted that over 35,000 jobs will be shed in this industry.
In Scotland, it is estimated that there are 72,100 people employed in customer service occupations in 2021, with 19,200 of these working in call and contact centre operations.
There are lots of ways into these jobs. You can start straight from school with few or no qualifications, where you can work your way up to a senior position, such as retail manager. Many employers provide the opportunity to work towards vocational qualifications on the job to help with promotion. There are Modern Apprenticeship frameworks for both retail and procurement.
You can find out more about training and qualifications in Scotland on the Scottish Retail Consortium website.
British Retail Consortium