Stock control/replenishment assistants are responsible for stacking and filling shelves and display areas in supermarkets and other retail outlets. The shelves must be restocked regularly to replace the goods bought by customers. Stock control/replenishment assistants may also be known as shelf fillers or shelf stackers.
Assistants usually have detailed knowledge of the goods they are working with. They must be able to provide good customer service, for example, by helping people to find a particular product.
Most retail outlets are now computerised, and stock control/replenishment assistants may use a battery-hand terminal (BHT). This scans the barcode on each item and records it for checking against a computer. They may also use a hand-held terminal (HHT) that scans the barcodes and prints out a label showing price reductions.
Stock control/replenishment assistants:
Depending on the size and type of retail outlet they work in and their training, stock control/replenishment assistants may also carry out tasks such as:
- Re-ordering stock
- Signing for deliveries
- Working on the checkouts or serving customers
Full-time stock control/replenishment assistants usually work five days a week. This may include some weekend work and late evening openings. As retail outlets have long opening hours, with many open 24 hours a day, there are flexible working conditions, with shift patterns and rotas. Many assistants work part time. Some staff work in the evening when the outlet is quieter or closed to customers.
Stock control/replenishment assistants are likely to spend most of their shift on their feet, lifting and carrying items and climbing ladders. The work is physical and can include heavy lifting.
Most employers provide a uniform. Comfortable footwear is essential.
Stock control/replenishment assistants may need their own transport if they are working unsocial hours.
Starting salaries for stock control/replenishment assistants may be around £12,000 a year. Experienced staff may earn around £13,000 a year but can potentially reach £16,000 as a basic salary.
A supervisor may earn up to £22,000 a year.
There are opportunities to earn more from overtime. Some retail outlets offer benefits such as staff discounts, bonus schemes and pension schemes.
There are around 293,000 retail outlets in the UK, employing just under three million people. The retail sector is the UK's largest private sector employer and employs one in ten of the working population.
There are opportunities for stock control/replenishment assistants at retail outlets throughout the UK, although many are based in towns and cities or large out-of-town shopping centres. Supermarkets are the major employers, but assistants also work for other employers, such as DIY stores and cash and carry and wholesale outlets.
This is a large sector where staff turnover tends to be high, so vacancies often occur. Vacancies may be advertised in local newspapers, Connexions centres, and Jobcentre Plus offices and on retailers' websites. Some retailers advertise their vacancies within their premises or in their shop windows. It may be worth making speculative applications.
There are no set academic requirements to work as a stock control/replenishment assistant. Employers have their own entry requirements, but usually look for basic numeracy, good communications skills and a positive attitude. It can be helpful to have some GCSEs and employers may set basic tests in maths and English at interviews. The Diploma in retail business may be relevant for this work.
Retail or customer service experience is useful. A number of assistants get a permanent job having started work as a weekend, evening or holiday member of staff.
Some people enter this career through an Apprenticeship in retail.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Stock control/replenishment assistants are trained on the job, working alongside experienced colleagues. Most retailers have their own induction course and training programme. Training may be in a classroom environment and normally covers health and safety, company policies, customer care, pricing, stock rotation and other retail skills.
Some retail outlets provide specialist training for people working with certain products, such as unwrapped food, dairy produce or meat.
It may be possible to work towards retail qualifications, including:
Apprentices work towards a Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in retail skills and a Level 2 Certificate in retail knowledge.
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A stock control/replenishment assistant should:
Stock control/replenishment assistant work can be used as a starting point to other retail jobs. Assistants may be able to become checkout operators or retail assistants. Further progression may be possible to supervisor and manager positions.
IGD (Institute of Grocery Distribution),
Grange Lane, Letchmore Heath,
Watford, Hertfordshire WD25 8GD
Tel: 01923 857141
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.