Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and retail is an extremely fast-paced sector to work in. This industry is always innovating, learning how to improve areas of the business and discovering new or more effective ways of working. If this sounds like an environment you thrive in, here’s a look at what skills employers look for, desirable attributes and the specific retail and FMCG skills you need to prosper.
What retail and FMCG skills do I need?
Verbal and written communication
Whether you’re face-to-face with customers showing them a new product or if you’re presenting new logistical ideas to the team, you need strong verbal communication skills. Presenting yourself professionally and clearly is key for this sector, for the sales assistants to the floor managers.
Working in Retail and FMCG is all about thinking on your feet and using your initiative to solve a problem, and fast. Having those problem-solving skills is particularly paramount in areas like technology and finance.
Data analysis skills: Depending on your role or level, if you work in the finance, technology or the logistics & supply chain areas of retail, you’ll likely need to do some data analysis during your time. You might be analysing consumer research data or numerical data that shows the level of stock purchased. This data analysis will have a mammoth impact on the business and the decision it makes.
Having organisational skills can be transferable to any area of retail. From organising the stock cupboard in-store or preparing new talent interviews for HR. Staying organised can ensure the business meets its goals and that there is no wasted time.
Retail and FMCG companies would not function without teamwork. It sits on the same level as communication skills. Each business department uses levels of teamwork, especially roles like marketing manager, sales assistant and the HR department.
Being commercially aware in retail and FMCG can ensure you’re on top of how the industry operates, how the market is moving or how customers are changing habits. Commercial awareness in retail helps managers make decisions and will ultimately help them understand their competitors more. This is particularly important for the financial and logistics and supply chain areas of retail and FMCG.
Learn more about how to improve your commercial awareness with Bright Network Academy or listen to our podcast, Thinking Commercially with commercial awareness guru, Chris Stoakes.
In retail and FMCG, creativity enables businesses to explore new ideas and potentially reach more or new clients. Creativity also helps to uncover what customers need before they need it. Retail marketers and buying departments need to be creative to keep customers engaged and drive them to shop.
Customer service skills
When dealing with customers face-to-face or over the phone, you need to be polite and friendly because how you treat customers will impact their perception of the business as a whole. Having good customer service skills represents the business in a good light.
What skills do retail and FMCG employers look for?
Depending on who you’re employed by and your job role, retail and FMCG employers look for people who are hungry to be involved and make a positive impact on the business. You’ll need to demonstrate dedication to the industry, that you know about that particular market and the business history. They will look for someone who's team-orientated with good decision-making skills and someone who can bring ideas to the table. This will give them an idea of how you’ll fit into the team, how your skills will be used and whether you have the drive to make a lasting impact on the company.
Learn more about the leading graduate employers in consumer & retail.
How can I gain these retail and FMCG skills?
Depending on which part of retail and FMCG you’re interested in, there’s a way to gain valuable experience and transferable skills that FMCG companies look for. For example, getting a full or part-time role in retail is vital for learning skills like communication, customer service, working under pressure and organisation. There are lots of businesses that regularly advertise for sales assistants or salespeople to help sell their products or services and organise the stores.
Some of the big companies offer internships for students to gain more experience in a specific area. For example, companies like Amazon, HP, Intel and Expedia Group have internships that will give you an insight into the company, role and teach you the key skills you need to succeed.
What attributes are beneficial for the retail & FMCG industry?
Working in retail and FMCG can be tough, but here are some attributes that should help you along the way:
- Empathy: someone who deals with customers or employees needs empathy to demonstrate an understanding of their needs and feelings.
- Friendly: those who work on a shop floor must be friendly, because who would buy from someone unfriendly?
- A multitasker: Retail and FMCG is a stressful but rewarding sector. But, it requires hard work and someone who can juggle multiple responsibilities and tasks at once.
- In-depth product knowledge across the business: your knowledge demonstrates to customers why they should purchase.
- Patience: working with the general public requires patience, but spending that extra time is critical to understanding who you're targeting or trying to sell to.
- A desire to help others and have a positive impact on life through a product or service.
- Resilience: there will be jam-packed days, but that feeling of determination and resilience will stop you from giving up.
- Creative or innovative thinker: being creative or innovative can give you a USP over competitors and is especially useful in marketing or technology.
If you’ve got the skills for this industry, take a look at graduate schemes available in the retail and FMCG sector today.