At a Glance...

Retail, sales and customer services

All businesses are involved with selling a product or service, which is where the Sales department of a business comes in. Retail is also a huge sector and covers everything from a sales assistant to a chocolate taster and a window designer to create appealing displays for the front face of a shop.

The industry has evolved to make extensive use of technology to help optimise the flow of products from the producers through the stores and finally to the consumers, as well as analysing buying trends. Both small indigenous companies and large multi-national chains operate across the country and make up over 10% of Ireland’s GDP.

Retail is the part of sales that is brought to the general public, or consumers, on the high street stores and retail parks. The good involved range from those products made and sold quickly and intended to be used as quick, like groceries and soft drinks, to those with more longevity like a car, furniture or a pair of shoes.

Despite a steadily increasing number of international corporations the retail sector in Ireland is still mostly made up of small, independent and indigenous companies. The sector generates over €5 billion in taxes and €8 billion in wages, being the largest employer of all sectors in Ireland with 15% of the workforce. 75% of these jobs are outside Dublin.

Sales Assistants count for about half of the jobs in the retail sector, and is the most populated occupation in the country. They are often entry level jobs into a retail career but in some cases, like in a car dealership where they work on commission, it takes a highly skilled seller to get the job done and they may spend a significant part of their professional lives here. Other retail jobs include Retail Management, Human Resources, Marketing, Merchandising, IT, Finance and Law/Legal services.

Purchasing is the sourcing and buying of goods needed by a particular company in its day to day operation. Two thirds of a business’s revenue can be spent on buying and so an efficient purchasing manager can make a significant difference when it comes to saving on costs and profit margins, be it retail stocks, raw materials for production or office supplies.

A retail business relies on profits from sales to stay in business and to that end large companies often have Purchasing departments to obtain products that fulfil the consumers demands and at the right price. A Purchasing manager will oversee a team of agents and buyers on anything from a local right up to a worldwide basis.

A business degree is highly valued by employers of purchasers, but there are also routes for school leavers and those that study a Post Leaving Cert course in the area of Retail Practice.

Irish Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management

The Irish Institute of Purchasing & Materials Management is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in purchasing & materials management through education, training, representation, and the provision of guidelines and professional services to its members.

The IIPMM is the professional association for purchasing and supply executives in the Republic of Ireland. We represent our members internationally through our membership of the International Federation for Purchasing and Supply Management (IFPSM). The Institute’s aim is to promote excellence in all aspects of purchasing and supply chain management.


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