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Responsibilities and Duties of a Retail Cashier

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I have had a lifelong passion for reading and writing and graduated with a bachelor's in English literature.

Read on to learn about the responsibilities and duties of a retail cashier.

Read on to learn about the responsibilities and duties of a retail cashier.

Cashier Jobs

I have worked as a cashier in retail for over six years now and I think it is safe to say that this job seems like it would be easy, but it carries a lot more responsibility than some people, including a few cashiers themselves, give it credit for. You may walk into a job as a retail cashier and think you understand exactly what your duties are but there are many unspoken aspects of the job that you may not have realized even existed before, no matter how often you shopped at that store before being employed.

If you are looking at getting an idea of how to be a cashier, I have provided a basic overview, based on my own experience working in retail for almost a decade.

Job Description of a Cashier

  • Money Handling: This includes receiving payments and issuing change. A basic knowledge of math is essential to managing your register successfully.
  • Issuing Refunds: Not all companies allow cashiers to handle refunds themselves, but, whether you are allowed to or not, you are expected to know enough about your store's refund policy to judge whether or not to call over someone in charge to take care of it.
  • Customer Service: Of course, customer service skills are a must when it comes to being a cashier. A friendly smile, knowledge of the store's inventory, and ability to work well with the public are key to success. You may be required to greet people as they come in the door and answer the phone on top of taking care of those clients who come through your line. Be prepared for a lot of questions about prices, sales, and suggestions for purchases.
  • Maintain Store Front: Cashiers do not always stand around just waiting for the next customer to come or the phone to ring so that they have something to do. During their downtime, they are expected to keep the front of the store clean and tidy, which includes wiping down counters, dusting, and putting products away.
  • Stocking: Yet another basic responsibility of a retail cashier is to stock products in the areas they can get to from their register. This may not be an everyday thing, but it is one more reason why cashiers have to be great multi-taskers.

If you are looking into becoming a cashier, these duties within the job description of a cashier should come as no surprise since they are listed in almost every job description posted out there for job openings.

The Unspoken Job Description

As previously mentioned, there are still more responsibilities for a retail cashier. These are the unspoken aspects of the job that you learn as you enter the retail atmosphere.

Why don't they just tell you about them from the get-go? Well, these parts of the job can be a little more complicated. For most, it takes a lot of experience in the retail arena before you can really perform at your best. The best way to prepare for them is to be aware of them as you get into the job so that you are not caught off guard from day one.

Loss Prevention

For those who may be unaware, loss prevention deals with theft and other aspects of the company that could potentially lose the big bosses some money if the employees are not careful. This is important because, if they lose money, you can lose hours, or worse, your job. Of course, maintaining your register and keeping your totals at the end of the night as accurate as possible is one key way that retail cashiers help with loss prevention. However, other aspects of this part of the job include recognizing when a customer is not being honest, which is a little bit more complicated and gets easier with experience.

One example of a dishonest customer is one who brings in a product to return that they did not purchase. It may simply be stolen and they do not have the receipt or they have dug up a receipt in the garbage that a customer threw away on their way out (customers, this is why we ask if you want your receipt or not, so we can tear it up and toss it for you and prevent thieves). Oftentimes, you can tell their dishonesty by their demeanor. If they seemed rushed, shaky, or even rude from the very beginning of your interactions, they may not have the best intentions.

Angry Customers

Of course, not all customers who are angry are up to no good. Some just come in from a bad day or are not completely satisfied with their experience from the moment they walked into their time in your line and finally at your counter. As a cashier, you have to try to make this customer walk out happier than they are now, if possible. Why bother? Well, if they leave angry, they might just decide never to come back. If this were to happen enough times, the store would eventually make less money and, most likely, so would you.

You can't fix someone's bad day but keeping up a smile despite their fury and maintaining a professional demeanor is still essential to keep that customer from associating any of their bad day with your store. If they are upset with their experience within your store, find out what happened and do whatever you can to fix it.
Was an employee rude or not helpful? Hand them a comment card, the store manager's business card, or write down the corporate office's number at the top of their receipt with the employee's name for them. Showing that you care can really help boost their mood and change their outlook on how customers are treated at your store.


There are many companies out there that require cashiers to up-sell products as customers come through their line. However, even without this requirement, there are many instances where you can add to sales just by recommending products or pointing out sales to a customer that had no previous knowledge of them before. The easiest way to do this is to point this out before the customer comes to the front to check out.

Many customers walk straight through the front doors and directly to the register to ask where a product is before even glancing through the store. Or, they come to the cashier for help finding something instead of wasting time searching for someone amidst the aisles. If you aren't busy with other duties, try and strike up a brief conversation with the customer to find out if they have any other needs that your store can help them with or sales for products related to what they are looking for.

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Ten Steps to Being a Cashier

Of all the duties of a cashier within the job description of this position, keeping an accurate total in your register is absolutely essential. Gaining customer service skills or the ability to prevent theft comes only with time as you gain experience. Handling money and keeping your till properly gets better through experience but only if you are taught the correct way to do things at the very beginning. Therefore, I have some advice for those novice cashiers out there from someone who has been doing this long enough that keeping my register dead on every night has actually become easy.

The first thing to remember when it comes to successful cashiering is to never rush. No matter how much a customer tells me that they really have to hurry to get to that appointment or make it to that movie, if they pay in cash, I follow every step of my process to make sure that their change and what is left in my till is accurate. My basic belief is that it's not worth it to have your register be off for their convenience when it could cost you your job if you're register is short enough money.

When ringing up a customer, the following ten steps should be taken (please keep in mind that this is based on a situation in which they are paying in cash):

  1. Greet the customer
  2. Ring up the product(s) provided by the customer to purchase
  3. Tell the customer their total
  4. Receive the customer's payment in cash
  5. Count back the money to yourself (even if the customer counted it out as they took it from their wallet)
  6. Put the money handed to you on the top of your keyboard or another safe part of your register instead of putting it directly in the till right away. This helps when quick-change artists come through and also prevents confusion if the customer thinks they handed you a $20 bill instead of a $10 bill.
  7. Count out the change for the customer as you take it from your register
  8. Count the change back to the customer as you hand it to them
  9. Hand the customer their product(s)
  10. Thank them and tell them to have a nice day

It may seem like ten steps are a bit too much to do for every customer when it comes to cashiering but they take mere seconds and become second nature with practice. Doing all of this has prevented many bad situations for me in the past, including a quick change artist and a regular customer who always seemed to think they paid with bigger bills than what they actually handed me.

If you ever get confused or are in similar situations like these where the customer and you are not agreeing with the amount of change they should get back, always call a manager and put all the money back in the register or keep it in your hand, never keep it on the counter. The best and easiest solution to any confusion is for them to come up and count your till, providing the customer with the amount of money that they are due.

Although understanding how to cashier and the responsibilities and duties associated with it are a little more complicated than they may seem (if you want to be a good cashier, that is), being a retail cashier can be fun. With time and practice, it will eventually be so easy that you don't even realize how much you have to do on a daily basis.

Quick Tip: How to Count Money Accurately

One tip on keeping an accurate count of the money going in and coming out of your register is to keep all the president's faces going in the same direction. Sounds funny but this is one of the key ways that I became a much more accurate cashier. Plus, most customers appreciate being handed back money that is neat and orderly.

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.

© 2012 Lisa


Mary Wickison from USA on June 03, 2016:

I use to work in a large supermarket where one of my tasks was as a cashier. You are right, people don't realize how many things a cashier is actually doing.

I was also a store trainer, and had to make sure everyone was trained as a cashier so could be called on if needed. It isn't just ring purchases up, as you say it is loss prevention and also upholding the law for sale of age related products.

Alas, all too often people are ignorant of the skill involved in being a good cashier.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on December 08, 2012:

Tell me why you guys get such little pay. It seems like a lot of responsibility.

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on December 07, 2012:

My career was a buyer for a major grocery store chain and I was always astounded at the creativity of thieves. If they put half as much energy into an honest living that could be a great success.

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