Training, Skills, and Duties of a Cashier
How Important Is a Cashier to a Business?
Many people start their careers in an entry-level position as a cashier. One thing in common with every purchase is that there is some type of cashier involved, whether automated or in person. This job requires a certain level of math ability and more importantly, people skills. The way people are treated when handing over their hard-earned cash for purchases makes a huge difference in their level of customer satisfaction.
Cashiers represent the front line when it comes to the success of a business. If the experience when paying for merchandise is tainted with an unpleasant encounter, people will likely tell others about it. If the experience is pleasant, people are likely to return to that store to do business again.
Similar to any first contact position like receptionist, greeter, hostess, or flight attendant, a poor experience can be detrimental to future business growth and success.
Enhancing Your Resume
Working as a cashier can actually help open doors for future employment opportunities. Your resume describing your experience as a cashier will boast of your people skills, bubbly personality, effective organizational skills, and math abilities. The experience of balancing a cash drawer properly and proven expertise in resolving customer issues can lead to positions of higher authority and better income if done well.
Advertisements for cashier job openings often list these traits as necessary:
- Bubbly personality
- Organizational skills
- Ability to resolve customer issues
- Quick learner in a fast-paced environment
- Strong mathematical aptitude
- Flexible work schedule
Working at this type of job allows a worker the flexibility of schedule and may provide the opportunity to continue one's education. As Placement Director for a Dallas Business School, it was my job to assist student graduates in moving from retail jobs into administrative careers. Many students started out working as fast food employees, clerks, cashiers, or in the hospitality industry. Adding some skills in word processing, accounting, and typing often made the transition easier.
Basic Duties of a Cashier
According to Google, they receive over 62,300,000 global searches per month asking for the "duties of a cashier." Their front page listing shows these items.
- Greet customers
- Scan items and ensure pricing is correct.
- Find out if they want paper or plastic bags.
- Take customers' orders.
- Deliver hot or cold food to customers.
- Take coupons and scan them correctly.
- Take payment in the form of cash, credit and debit cards, vouchers.
- Issue receipts and dispense the correct change.
- Make refunds or issue credits.
- Count money in the cash drawers to ensure amounts are correct and there is adequate change.
The basic duties of a cashier are to greet customers, ring up merchandise, bag the items, take the customer's payment, and thank them for their business.
Entry-level cashier jobs usually require a high-school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED). Some employers require applicants pass a math skills test to make certain that they can handle money accurately.
Pleasing the Customer
What pleases a customer, for example, at a grocery store? The cashier leaves an impression with the customer whether good or bad. From personal experience, I'm pleased if a cashier greets me promptly and takes care of ringing up my sale without distractions like talking on the phone or turning their back as I approach or chatting with a coworker.
The next criteria is that the cashier properly returns the correct change from my transaction with as few small bills (when paying in cash) as possible without drawing attention to the fact that my cash is burdensome and making change is difficult.
Bagging the merchandise is the next hurdle to overcome in pleasing the customer. Dissatisfaction grows when the customer arrives home with broken items that were not properly wrapped and bagged. For example, tomatoes should not be the first items placed in the grocery bag.
Proper Bagging Is a Learned Behavior
Years ago, grocery stores employed baggers whose main job was to bag the groceries while the cashier rang them up. This is not the case in today's streamlined grocery stores. The cashier is not only responsible for ringing up merchandise and accepting payment, they're expected to bag the goods as well.
Not everyone is careful when loading their shopping cart nor do they care how it looks when they get it home. But for those who do care, getting home with eggs intact and unstained toilet paper is important.
What's the best way to bag groceries? There's a reason to separate the paper products and clothing from wet items like meat, dairy, and frozen food. To avoid cross-contamination, it's best to bag these items separately.
What Kind of Training Is Needed?
Many new cashiers have many questions and often not enough answers. Some skills are considered on the job learning experiences. Other skills need to be taught before an employee is expected to perform the job. A hands-on segment in actual customer service is useful to prepare new entry-level employees for the real-world experience of handling customers.
Ask relevant questions like the following while you are being trained.
- What do I do if I scan something twice by accident?
- What do I do if something scans with the wrong price?
- Which button is for a gift card?
- How do I handle an employee discount?
- What if this item doesn't have a bar-code on it?
- What happens if I enter the wrong amount of cash from the customer?
- How do I make change?
According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, over 3 million retail cashier positions exist throughout the nation, and another 250,000 are expected to be added by the year 2020.— US Department of Labor
What Do Cashiers Earn?
NBC News reports that "retail workers who don't have a supervisory role earned an average of $14.02 an hour in 2013, according to calculations of government wage data compiled for NBC News by the Economic Policy Institute. There were 12.9 million such workers in the U.S. in 2013, according to the Economic Policy Institute, accounting for nearly eighty-six percent (86%) of all retail workers."
Many who work in retail complain that the irregular work hours make it difficult to find permanent placement and to make ends meet. One said her "schedule changed dramatically week to week and with little notice, making it difficult to find a full-time position."
She was ultimately able to take her retail experience and find a job in the administrative field that included benefits and long term security.
Finding the right retail job can mean starting off somewhere at entry-level and learning the skills required for advancement. Zeynep Ton’s book, Good Jobs Strategy, focuses on a small set of companies like Costco, Trader Joe’s and QuikTrip, who pay workers above-average wages and offer better training, higher wages and other perks.
Learning best practices on how to treat customers and customer service skills can open doors to better-paying jobs in the future.
- Cashier's Job Description from Cover Letter's Job and Resume Website
- The Job Headquarters
- NBC News Article, July 30, 2014, Allison Linn
- CNN Money, Walmart wages
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2015 Peg Cole