Today, retailers are struggling to find employees. Sixty-nine percent of retailers say finding and retaining staff is difficult. And 67% say that they are short-staffed. For indie retailers, hiring can be even more challenging. Retail boutiques may have fewer resources or unique requirements.

But finding and hiring the right employees is vital for small businesses. Retail workers represent your brand. They play a crucial role in providing excellent customer service and driving sales.

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or your 20th, we’re here to help. This article will explore why small business owners should develop a hiring process. And we’ll provide six strategies for hiring the best retail team.

Why an effective retail hiring process matters for small businesses

As a small business owner, rushing the retail hiring process can be tempting. Recruiting and interviewing employees takes time away from other essential tasks. And if you’re looking to replace a previous employee, you may need someone immediately.

But even the smallest teams benefit from developing hiring procedures. Some advantages of an effective hiring process include:

  • Increase customer satisfaction: Building relationships with your clients is critical for indie retailers. Hiring the right retail staff enhances the shopping experience, fosters customer loyalty, and drives repeat business. 
  • Boost efficiency: Small businesses often have limited resources. As a result, each employee plays an integral role in making the business operate smoothly. Hiring organized and responsible retail employees is critical. 
  • Improve collaboration: In a small business, teamwork is essential. A good hire will boost morale and increase productivity. 
  • Reduce employee turnover: High turnover hinders productivity and hurts the customer experience.

6 tips for finding and hiring retail workers

Ready to start hiring? Here are six strategies to ensure a smooth hiring process.

1. Identify the job requirements

Before you advertise your open role, outline your ideal candidate. Create a list that defines the job requirements, including:

  • What will be the employee’s primary responsibilities? 
  • What are the required skills and qualifications for this position?
  • What attributes and characteristics do you want this person to have?

Most likely, you won’t find someone who meets all your criteria. Nevertheless, defining what you’re looking for in a candidate will help narrow your search.

2. Craft a compelling job description

A well-written job description is a powerful tool to attract the best employees. While using a generic retail job description can be tempting, creating your own will help your business stand out.

First, be transparent. When writing your job description, be clear about your needs and expectations (e.g., job responsibilities, working hours, pay, etc.). This will ensure that only qualified candidates apply—saving time for everyone involved. 

At the same time, showcase your company and its values. For example, an outdoor apparel shop might list its passion for adventure and commitment to the environment. A yarn boutique might share its desire to foster creativity and create a community for knitters. 

In its job descriptions, Goldfish Swim School emphasizes its passion for inspiring a love of swimming and saving lives. “We’re seeing better traction with a more creative approach to hiring beyond simply relying on your typical job ad,” says Chris McCuiston—CEO and co-founder of Goldfish Swim School.

In an interview with CO—by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, McCuiston says, “By focusing on the impact and purpose of the job opportunity, you’re able to attract talent from individuals who want to pursue work that truly makes a difference.” 

Here are a couple more examples:

Image description: A job description for a Sales Associate position for a home and decor boutique in Detroit.
Image description: FERAL—an outdoor gear shop in Denver—is transparent and shares its values on its FERAL Jobs page.

3. Advertise retail jobs in the right places

When you’re ready to share your job description, avoid generic job boards. Instead, look for opportunities to connect with prospective retail employees who share your business’ values and interests.

Some places to advertise your retail job include:

  • Post your open role on your social media accounts.
  • Mention the opportunity in your email newsletter.
  • Put a sign in your store.
  • Share the job description with your professional network (e.g., post on LinkedIn or share with your local business association) 
  • If you live near a college or university, consider posting your role on a campus job board. 
  • Look for like-minded community groups or job boards. For example, a running store may share an open retail position with a local running group.
Image description: The Well Refill uses Instagram to share an open role. 

4. Structure the interview process

While you do not need a lengthy interview process, having an interview structure helps you choose the most qualified retail sales associate. By planning the interview, you can save time and better assess the candidate’s skill set and fit with your business. 

Start the interview by introducing yourself and your business. Share more details about the open position. Then, ask a variety of questions to assess skills and fit, including:

  • Can you describe your previous experience working in a retail environment? 
  • What did you like/dislike about your last job?
  • Can you tell me about a time you had a challenging customer? How did you handle it? 
  • Can you tell me about a time when you delivered excellent customer service?
  • Have you ever had a conflict with a coworker or manager? How did you handle it? 
  • Create a hypothetical situation. Ask the candidate how they would handle the situation.
  • Why do you want to work here? 
  • What do you like to do for fun?

Leave time at the end of the interview for any questions. Finish the interview process by sharing the next steps and clear timelines. 

5. Keep it simple

Make the retail hiring process as easy as possible. A clear, streamlined approach will save you time and help attract the best candidates.

During the application process, only ask for the information you need. Set a time limit for interviews and keep them to one round. (If you receive a lot of applications, consider using a 15-minute phone screen to limit the number of in-person interviews.)

6. Establish an onboarding process

When you’re ready to hire, set your new employee up for success with an organized onboarding process. An effective onboarding process should include the following: 

  • Develop a training plan: Provide your new employee with a training timeline and steps. This may include training for any systems—such as your point-of-sale, time-tracking tool, or payroll software. You can also build in time to shadow you or existing employees. 
  • Compile documentation: Prepare any necessary materials needed for the onboarding process. This may include a retail training manual, account logins, or user guides for any tools they use.). 
  • Assign responsibilities: If you have more than one person on your team, identify who is responsible for training. Who should your new hire contact with questions?
  • Check-in and ask for feedback: Schedule time in your calendar to follow up with your employee regularly. What support do they need?

Build the best retail team

As a small business owner, hiring retail staff that you trust is paramount. By developing a structured and streamlined retail hiring process, you can attract and recruit the best employees. 

What are your best hiring tips? Have a retail hiring story you’d like to share? Send us an email at

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