- Different areas of consumer, FMCG and retail
- Typical roles in consumer, FMCG and retail
- Skills and qualifications
- Key employers
- The application process
- Consumer, FMCG and retail sector graduate jobs and schemes
- More information
Do you have a great eye for detail? Do you have a knack for knowing what a consumer might want? If you want to work in a fast paced and exciting sector, a career in consumer, FMCG and retail could be ideal for you. You can learn more in this Bright Guide to Consumer, FMCG and Retail.
The consumer, FMCG and retail sector is concerned with making, producing and marketing products that appeal directly to consumers. The sector has many areas of focus that you could specialise in depending on your interests and experience. Here are three important areas of the consumer, FMCG and retail sector:
Retail and fashion
Retail and fashion revolve around selling new products to consumers. The retail industry includes the sale of all goods to customers from food to engineering equipment. Working in retail typically means working in a store, appealing to customers through store design and layout and making sales to customers.
Supply chain and logistics
Supply chain and logistics is the area of a business which oversees the movement of goods from the supplier to the manufacturing units to the warehouses to the retail store. Working in supply chain and logistics means organising the route that a product will take in its journey to the customer. In supply chain and logistics work, you need to be able to deal with big issues that may arise out of the blue like delays in transportation links or sudden reductions in warehouse space. Due to the growth in the sector and the increased consumerist demand, this is a highly competitive and often intense career path.
Consumer goods and FMCG
Consumer goods are the products sold to customers. FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) is a subsection within consumer goods referring to products which are easily accessible to consumers. They are typically quite low cost and often of a relatively low quality because of the high speed of production. FMCG applies to many different types of products from toiletries to canned foods.
Working in FMCG means designing products which are quick, easy and cheap to make, efficiently bringing them to a consumer or marketing them to appeal to the target consumer.
The process of designing, making, moving and selling the large number of products available to consumers requires many people working collaboratively who have their own specialism. Here are the types of job available to you when working in the consumer, FMCG and retail sector:
Supply chain and logistics manager
As a supply chain manager or logistics manager, you’re responsible for the transportation process of materials and products. This means booking transport systems and warehouse space to accommodate the movement. You also make sure budgets and timeframes for deliveries are kept to.
Supply chain managers work on a larger scale than logistics managers. As a supply chain manager, you work with the entire movement process whereas logistics managers deal with one section of moving the product to stores, for example overseeing the transport of raw materials to a factory.
Learn about what is operations and supply chain.
Retail buyers are responsible for choosing the products that a shop sells. This could be clothing, electrical equipment, food or any other project available in the shop. As a buyer, you research the best deals for stock, negotiating prices with wholesalers. You monitor the performance of products and decide on the best ones for a shop to invest in.
Other types of buyers purchase commodities for a company or to sell on. You could be a land buyer who buys land or properties to sell to developers or you could be a media buyer who buys up advertising space in different forms of media like newspapers, TV, radio and websites.
Retail managers are responsible for the sales end of the process. In this role, you manage a shop, making sure your team works well together to sell products. You do administrative tasks like banking, writing reports for more senior members of the team if you work in a large firm and making sure the store adheres to health and safety regulations, for example, through fire alarm checks.
Prior to becoming a retail manager, you can work as a retail assistant. As a retail assistant, you’re responsible for making sales, keeping the store tidy and clear for customers and answering any questions about products that a customer has. You may arrange deliveries for customers and sometimes do stock counts and help with store finances.
Merchandisers deal with how a consumer views a product. This could be making sure the displays in a retail store look attractive and making the products appear as appealing as they can to a customer.
Merchandisers have different specialities. You could work with one company going into stores or onto websites and suggesting changes to improve the look of the products. Alternatively, you might work with one product, in particular, making sure retail stores display it well and maintain your standards for marketing campaigns.
When working in hospitality you’re providing consumers with an experience, this being a hotel stay, restaurant trip or other experience rather than a physical product or piece of software. There are many areas of hospitality that you could work in depending on your experience and interests. This could be in a customer-facing role like receptionist, tour guide or waiting staff, or in a behind-the-scenes role like chef, gardener or cleaner. All of these roles contribute to building the brand image that a company in hospitality wants to portray to the consumer.
Working in the consumer, FMCG and retail sectors means having an understanding of what customers want from a product. Aside from this, here are the skills and qualifications that help you succeed in the sector and impress any hiring manager:
- Organisation. Some jobs in the consumer, FMCG and retail sectors require high levels of organisation. As a supply chain or logistics manager, you need to organise not only your work but also the route that a product takes from its source to the shelf. Retail managers need to organise all the staff members of the entire store on a daily basis.
- Detail-oriented. Being detail-oriented is beneficial for some roles in the sector. Merchandisers make minute changes to a product or the layout of a store to encourage customers to make a purchase. Behind the scenes, hospitality workers like cleaners and decorators have to focus on small details which might impact a customer’s enjoyment of the experience.
- Analytical. Having an analytical mind helps with some jobs in the sector. Buyers, for example, need to monitor the changes in the market, striking a balance between purchasing the best quality product and the cheaper products to match their team’s needs. Supply chain and logistics managers need to be analytical to recognise the best routes for transport and the movement processes of the products.
- Teamwork. Most work in the consumer, FMCG and retail sectors has a wider goal that is only achievable when working with a large team. Recognising the team you’re working in and the combined goal that you all share helps you produce your work to a high level. Retail work is very team-focused. Through delegation of tasks, you successfully run the store and provide customers with the best experience you can.
- Negotiation. Some jobs in this sector require negotiation skills. Buyers often negotiate with suppliers on the prices of products and the number that they are able to provide. Additionally, supply and logistics managers have to negotiate with transport, warehouse and manufacturing companies to get the best price available. Merchandisers negotiate with colleagues in the marketing departments to discuss the pricing of products. They also negotiate with stores to discuss marketing campaigns and the best way to highlight a product.
Learn about the key retail & FMCG skills you need to get into the sector.
Some jobs in the consumer, FMCG and retail sectors, like supply chain and logistics managers, have a preference for degree-level education. Relevant degrees include marketing, finance and business studies. Having a degree in one of these areas gives you an understanding of how businesses work, the best practices to follow and the skills that you might need to do the job.
However, for many jobs in the sector, a degree is not a requirement. Jobs like retail manager have fast track schemes for graduates where you can progress to management level in a shorter period of time. On the other hand, it is equally possible to work your way up in a retail store without a degree.
Many consumer, FMCG and retail jobs have apprenticeship schemes available. These give you directly relevant skills to the job you’ll be doing that you wouldn’t get from a degree alone. Similarly, some college diplomas give you a more targeted experience.
The consumer, FMCG and retail sector has many job opportunities available and salaries that match the skill requirements and demands associated with the different jobs. Here are the salaries that you might expect from the main jobs in the sector:
- Supply chain and logistics manager. As a supply chain manager, the salary range available to you is between £30,000 and £70,000 per year depending on the industry and your experience. Logistics managers have a slightly lower range of £30,000 to £60,000 per year mostly because they work with smaller parts of the transportation process compared to supply chain managers who work with the entire chain.
- Retail manager. When working in retail management, you earn between £20,000 and £40,000 per year depending on the size of the store and your seniority.
- Merchandiser. As a merchandiser, you could earn between £20,000 and £50,000 per year based on your experience, the size of the company you work for and the type of product you’re working on.
- Hospitality. Within hospitality, if you work as a hotel manager, you could expect between £20,000 and £60,000 per year. If you’re a chef, you could earn between £30,000 and £90,000 per year. If you're a cabin crew member, you could earn between £18,000 and £30,000 per year.
- Buyer. As a buyer, you could earn between £25,000 and £50,000 per year depending on your specialisation and seniority.
If you want to know more about the employers in the sectors, find out about the leading graduate employers in consumer and retail.
CV and cover letter
Your route into the consumer, FMCG and retail sector begins with your job application. Any application includes a CV and cover letter. Any CV should include your working history and education. This should all be tailored to the job you’re applying for. To do this, you look at the job description and make sure you include relevant information that shows you’re qualified for the job. Instead of talking about your duties in a job, mention what you achieved whilst you were there, anything that made you successful in the role. If you need some help perfecting your CV, follow this guide on how to write a CV.
Your cover letter is your first opportunity to speak to the hiring manager. Whilst your CV shows the hiring manager that you’re qualified for the job, the cover letter shows them why you’re right for the role. Again, you should look at the job description and tell the hiring manager why you have the attributes they’re looking for. If they’re looking for someone with attention to detail, prove to them that your attention to detail skills are fantastic! Here is a guide for how to write a cover letter so you can get a head start.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the consumer, FMCG and retail career path, find out about the top tips for writing a great application for the consumer and retail sector.
If your application is successful, you will be invited to have an interview. This could be an initial screening with a hiring manager. In a first interview, you go through your previous work and why you’re interested in the role. If they like you, you might have a second interview. This often includes more information about the role and why you’re the best candidate for it. Preparing yourself well for the interview not only means knowing what you’ll be expected to do in the role, but you should also prepare some questions to ask the hiring manager about the job or the organisation. This shows them that you’re interested in the role itself. If you need some help with interviews, follow this informative guide on how to tackle face-to-face, phone and online interviews.
Are you sold on the consumer, FMCG and retail sectors? Browse available graduate opportunities in these industries and take the first step towards your career.