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Written by Anna MuckermanAnna Muckerman

Retail Cover Letter Example

Whether you're a sales pro or just starting out in the industry, you need a retail cover letter that turns recruiters' heads. We've got you covered with a simple, step-by-step guide.
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Retail Cover Letter Example
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Turnover rates for retail jobs are high. That means new opportunities are opening up every day. But if you want the best chance of landing one, you’ll need a perfect retail cover letter.

Whether in food, fashion, furniture or just about anything else, retail jobs can make for great sources of steady income. They’re often a favorite for students seeking summer jobs or part-time positions. 

If this is your first job, you might not have any customer service experience. That’s where a great retail cover letter comes to play. This essential job application document allows you to share your story, achievements and skills. As a companion to your resume, it can give you a much better chance at the retail position you are seeking, even against much more experienced candidates.

At Resume.io, we have a library of 180+ cover letter examples to help you with the next part of the process. This retail cover letter writing guide, along with the corresponding retail cover letter example will:

  • Explain the reasons why a cover letter is an essential tool for landing a retail position
  • Break down the cover letter's correct format into key sections with manageable steps
  • Show you how to maximize the effect of each cover letter paragraph: header, greeting, intro, body, and conclusion
  • Explore the power of using facts and figures to bolster your skills and achievements
  • Help you create a personal connection with the employer to make your application stand out from the competition
  • Review the most mistakes to avoid when writing your librarian cover letter.

Why do you need a retail cover letter?

You might be asking yourself, “why do I even need a cover letter, especially for a retail position?”

In fact, a cover letter is one of the most requested and influential job application materials, regardless of position or industry. Let’s look at the reasons why.

Primary purpose

Whether you're just starting your professional journey or hoping to open a new chapter, an effective cover letter is invaluable. It empowers your resume by emphasizing your unique strengths up front to ensure that you don’t get overlooked. It gives hiring managers a much more well-rounded picture of who you are as a candidate and what you can bring to the table. 

Think of your retail cover letter as the perfect resume sidekick. The formulaic structure of a resume is great for listing dates, titles and degrees. But its ability to show off your unique personality and perspectives is limited to just a few lines in the summary. The same constraints and different intent of a resume make it ill-suited for boasting a ton of work experience or impressive accolades. 

That’s why a cover letter is so important as a resume synopsis and hook: it captures your greatest assets and the recruiter's attention before your resume is even seen.

Expert tip

What if the retail job application DOESN’T require a cover letter?

You’re likely to come across a few job postings that don’t specify whether or not you must submit a cover letter. While it might seem like the easy option to upload your resume and move on, you’re severely minimizing your chances of landing the position. 

A cover letter is one of your best opportunities to make a case for your skills and personality. It could make all the difference between you and another candidate with the same resume.

In retail positions, there may be many candidates who have the exact same physical skills as you do, but believe it or not personality does count. Your cover letter is the place to show a hiring manager you are a hard worker who will make a trustworthy and diligent employee.

How to write a cover letter: the basics

As a general rule, a cover letter should be no more than one page long — about 200 to 400 words. The key is to stay concise and focused.

That's especially important when applying for retail positions that are likely to attract numerous applications  Concentrate on a few key topics that demonstrate your ability to do this retail job correctly, effectively and efficiently. 

Tailoring your cover letter

Remember, the point of the cover letter is to maximize your chances of landing the position in this competitive field. One of the most vitally important ways to give your cover letter the best shot at achieving this goal is to tailor it to each specific job description. 

Bear in mind that for any given retail entry-level position, hiring managers can receive dozens of applications. And they can quickly tell who put effort into their application and who submitted a generic copy-paste letter they found online. If you really want the job, it’s much better to be in that first category.

What does "tailoring your letter" mean? That means it's not just about you but about the employer you want to impress. Write about experiences that directly relate to the skills needed for that particular job and company. 

Even if you haven’t worked in this particular sector before, you should still aim to portray the most relevant tasks that you have performed and explain how those competencies will work for this new role.

Best format for a retail cover letter

Some applicants fear the cover letter writing process so much, they simply submit a jog  application without one. Luckily, you've already decided not to make this mistake and are ready to write an outstanding retail cover letter.

It's a decision you will never regret! Learning to write a professional cover letter is a skill that will reward you for the rest of your career. And the process and format is remarkably simple and straightforward.

Let's break down the parts of this document into an easy-to-follow framework that works across industries and positions. Here are the key components:

  • Cover letter header
  • Greeting / salutation
  • Introduction
  • Middle paragraphs (body)
  • Conclusion and call-to-action
  • Signature / sign-off
Retail Cover Letter Example - Best format for a Retail cover letter
Retail Cover Letter Example - Best format for a Retail cover letter

You can find even more information about each of these sections, plus free example sentences in this handy cover letter writing guide. Plus, our easy-to-use cover letter templates make finishing your application a breeze.

Adaptable cover letter example

Dear Ms. Cass,

Both expectant and experienced parents alike tend to stop for that little bit longer in the baby section of a store — 34% longer, according to the research. Analyzing customer flow patterns and product sales data, I estimate that over the past 13 years, I have helped more than half a million customers make the best decisions for their little ones. 

That is a lot of baby chat. At an average of 16% YOY sales growth.

Since obtaining my degree in Retail Management from the University of Florida with a GPA of 3.9, I have worked as a Retail Assistant for specialist retailer Baby Land, managed the baby section of department store H-Mart and run my own baby boutique, while taking care of my own young family. It is essential to step into your customers’ shoes.

I understand that you are opening a new superstore in my hometown and am keen to become part of your growth story. Your customer service approach is legendary, and I hope that my varied career history will add a different dimension to your management team. I would like to take you through how my experience might be a fit.

My retail career started at the specialist baby retailer Baby Land in 2009. I began as a cashier but was soon promoted to a customer-facing retail assistant role. In a small store of 20 permanent employees, I learned the roles and was involved in many aspects that most retail assistants would not be responsible for. I passed their industry-leading product knowledge training with a 97% mark, and I still refer to the material. When you talk to a customer, you have to be confident in your competence.

As people increasingly turn to online shopping, it is this intimate relationship with the in-store staff that keeps customers coming back. I offer reassurance, help them select the right products and am always conscious of the opportunity to suggest add-on sale.

I understand the rigors of retail and would love to tell you about my awards for operational excellence. I received an exceptional annual bonus at Baby Land for my merchandising solutions, which increased the sales return on space by 26%. At H-Mart, I was manager of the month nine times and my team won the store standards state competition for two years in a row.

I became aware of the role from your department manager Joanne Grey, who is a personal friend, so I have an insider understanding of your culture and would love the opportunity of an interview to discuss how I might fit in.

Sincerely,

Lana Otterley

Copied!

Cover letter header

Before you can get into the details of your skills and experience, you’ll need the right cover letter header. The primary section of the header is to identify your document and keep your phone number and contact information right at the hiring manager’s fingertips. In large retailers, hiring can be done by a big team, so it’s essential that whoever comes across your letter knows who it belongs to and how they can get in touch with you.

The goal of this section: Label the document as belonging to you, keep your contact information available no matter who reads your letter.

Expert tip

Align document styles!

Your header also adds a touch of formatting flair to your document. This might be the only place where you’re able to add color or bold text elements to an otherwise plain sheet of paper. Before you go crazy with rainbow colors, it’s important to first consider the image of the brand to which you’re applying. If you’re not sure how to find the balance between professionalism and creativity, it’s best to err on the side of caution and stick with neutral colors and simple themes.

One way to present an even more polished look is by aligning your document styles. This helps create a “personal brand,” with consistency between the top of your cover letter, resume template and other application materials. 

Retail cover letter templates can help get the job done. Check out professional formatting tools like Resume.io’s cover letter builder to make the process quick and easy.

Cover letter greeting

Although your greeting may only contain a few words, it’s important to get the tone just right. You’ll want to come across as professional, respectful and polite. 

In general, “Dear” followed by the proper salutation and the hiring manager’s last name can work well in a variety of situations. However, for companies that want to present a more youthful image, you may find that “Hi” or “Hello” will do the trick, especially if you’re sending your letter in the body of an email.

The goal of this section: Address the letter recipient appropriately and professionally based on the image and feel of the company.

Expert tip

The importance of names and addressed greetings.

Research has shown that our brains respond with a positive chemical reaction upon hearing our own names. That’s one great reason to address your resume to a specific hiring manager or store owner if you can. Beyond that, a personalized greeting goes a long way in building rapport with your potential employer.

However in many large retail companies finding out the name of the hiring manager might be near impossible. No need to go to extreme lengths in that case. 

Instead of the outdated “To Whom It May Concern” try “Dear Hiring Manager,” or better yet “Dear (Company Name) Hiring Team” (this one is usually a winner, as it blends both respect and friendliness very well).

Cover letter introduction

Your retail cover letter introduction is pivotal to the hiring manager’s receptiveness and first impression. A boring, generic introduction might deter the reader from even making it to the second sentence. 

Instead of the meaningless, sleep-inducing “I’m writing to express interest in your vacancy for a retail sales associate …” create an opening line that exudes passion, energy and excitement.

You can accomplish this a number of ways; an attention-grabbing anecdote, enthusiastic statement or interesting personal introduction can all work well. Just make sure to keep the tone professional according to the standards of the brand and position.

The goal of this section: Hook the hiring manager’s attention with a great opening paragraph that makes them want to continue reading into the body section.

Adaptable cover letter introduction example

Dear Ms. Cass,

Both expectant and experienced parents alike tend to stop for that little bit longer in the baby section of a store — 34% longer, according to the research. Analyzing customer flow patterns and product sales data, I estimate that over the past 13 years, I have helped more than half a million customers make the best decisions for their little ones. 

Copied!

Cover letter middle part (body)

The middle paragraphs of cover letters are where you can really get into details about your skills and accomplishments. One way to simplify this section even further is to break it into two subsections.

In the first part, you’ll discuss your achievements and milestones. The STAR method can help you concisely describe them while demonstrating your abilities. Briefly explain the Situation and  Task, then your Action and the ensuing positive Result. 

In the second part, you can dive into your potential contributions to this retail position in terms of your skills and personality traits.

The goal of this section: Relay your skills and abilities via short anecdotes that demonstrate how you can contribute to this new company or position.

Adaptable cover letter middle part example

That is a lot of baby chat. At an average of 16% YOY sales growth.

Since obtaining my degree in Retail Management from the University of Florida with a GPA of 3.9, I have worked as a Retail Assistant for specialist retailer Baby Land, managed the baby section of department store H-Mart and run my own baby boutique, while taking care of my own young family. It is essential to step into your customers’ shoes.

I understand that you are opening a new superstore in my hometown and am keen to become part of your growth story. Your customer service approach is legendary, and I hope that my varied career history will add a different dimension to your management team. I would like to take you through how my experience might be a fit.

My retail career started at the specialist baby retailer Baby Land in 2009. I began as a cashier but was soon promoted to a customer-facing retail assistant role. In a small store of 20 permanent employees, I learned the roles and was involved in many aspects that most retail assistants would not be responsible for. I passed their industry-leading product knowledge training with a 97% mark, and I still refer to the material. When you talk to a customer, you have to be confident in your competence.

As people increasingly turn to online shopping, it is this intimate relationship with the in-store staff that keeps customers coming back. I offer reassurance, help them select the right products and am always conscious of the opportunity to suggest add-on sale.

I understand the rigors of retail and would love to tell you about my awards for operational excellence. I received an exceptional annual bonus at Baby Land for my merchandising solutions, which increased the sales return on space by 26%. At H-Mart, I was manager of the month nine times and my team won the store standards state competition for two years in a row.

Copied!

How to close a retail cover letter (conclusion and sign-off)

Now it’s time to end your retail cover letter on a strong note. For that, you’ll need an effective call to action. This sentence or two expresses your enthusiasm for the opportunity and encourages the hiring manager to get in touch. You may also choose to repeat some of the contact information from the header in your cover letter conclusion 

Then, you’ll need to sign off your cover letter. “Best,” “Best Regards” or “Sincerely” can work well.

The goal of this section: End on a positive note and invite the hiring manager to contact you via a call to action.

Adaptable cover letter conclusion and sign-off example

I became aware of the role from your department manager Joanne Grey, who is a personal friend, so I have an insider understanding of your culture and would love the opportunity of an interview to discuss how I might fit in.

Sincerely,

Lana Otterley

Copied!

Writing psychology for retail sales associates

For a retail position, there are a few key qualities you’ll want to convey in your cover letter.

  • Teachability:  For most retail sales associates, a positive attitude and willingness to learn are all you need to get started. Most retail store managers are used to students and young people who don’t have any experience in the industry. If that’s you, make sure to highlight your eagerness to learn and enthusiasm for the position.
  • Customer Service: In retail, the customer is king. It’s a great idea to use the body section of your letter to highlight situations where you went above and beyond to help someone or provided great customer service despite challenges.
  • Stamina: Retail jobs often come with long hours of repetitive tasks requiring physical and mental endurance. Stamina doesn’t have to be a focus of your letter but you should convey to some extent your determination and flexibility for a variety of shifts and situations.
  • Efficiency: A lethargic retail sales associate can cost a store lots of money in unproductive time. Most hiring managers will understand if this retail position isn’t your lifelong goal, but you should always aim to express motivation and energy for as long as you are employed.
Retail Cover Letter Example - Key qualities for a Retail position
Retail Cover Letter Example - Key qualities for a Retail position

The importance of specificity

On your resume for a retail position, you may have listed attributes like flexible, motivated and quick learner. While these are all great qualities to possess in this field, it’s up to retail management to simply believe you have the skills you say you do. That’s why employers are so keen to read your cover letter — it gives you a chance to demonstrate how you’ve put your abilities to action.

To that end, it’s important to be specific in your cover letter. According to brothers and authors Dan and Chip Heath, specificity is one of the most important qualities to make a great idea stick in our minds. You want your skillset, personality and unique perspectives to rest with the hiring manager even after they’ve finished reading your letter.

So how do you achieve specificity? Facts, numbers, locations and descriptions can all help to make your experience come to life on the page. You’ll want to avoid boring or confusing the reader with too many details, so make sure to pick the ones that are most important to illustrate the story, especially your achievements. You should also aim to include numbers and facts that will be of interest to this new employer.

In retail, some sources of numbers can be the size of the store, the number of coworkers you managed, the amount of sales you brought in, or even percentages that show the ways you increased revenue or the customer base. Facts about awards you received or times you went above and beyond to offer great service can also serve as specific examples.

Expert tip

Putting the rules of specificity into practice

Check out these two contrasting retail cover letter samples to see how numbers, facts and other details can help you better express your accomplishments.

WEAK: While I worked at the store, I often assisted with organizing and folding the jeans and new arrival clothing. I was motivated to complete tasks quickly and could often run everything back from the dressing room before the end of my shift. I was flexible with my scheduling, so I took on extra shifts every week.

STRONGER: During my 8 months as a retail associate at XYZ store, I was promoted to team lead after proving my organizational and management skills in the 10,000 sq foot suburban store. I learned how to quickly sort and replenish our stock of 2,000 items even on the busiest weekends. During the holiday period, my store manager asked me to fill in as lead cash register when our team member was sick. I was responsible for the performance of 6 other cashiers and helped troubleshoot POS problems and facilitate returns. During the 5 shifts I served as lead cash register, the store’s transaction error rate was less than 2 percent.

Retail cover letter with no experience

Everybody has to start somewhere. Luckily, there are plenty of entry-level roles in this field.  So, if you're new to the retail sector, use your cover letter to win over the hiring manager. Here are some of the topics you may want to cover: 

  • Your education. What did you study at school? What lessons did you learn that have helped you become an organized and responsible worker?
  • Knowledge of the brand. Are you familiar with the store? Do you shop there regularly? If you have a special interest in the brand, don't be afraid to shout about it.
  • Voluntary experience. While you may not have any on-the-job experience, you can draw upon other experiences you've had. For example, if you have volunteered at a business, charity, or organization, you can use that to your advantage.

Be honest about your lack of prior work experience but show that you are passionate about the sector. If you display the right attitude in your cover letter, you will have a better chance of piquing the hiring manager's interest.


Common mistakes to avoid in your retail cover letter

Follow our advice in preceding sections of this writing guide and examples to avoid these  common cover letter slip-ups made by other retail job seekers.

  • Generic or boring letters: Retail job candidates are often applying for more than one position at a time. While this is a fine strategy, make sure to truly customize your letter for each position that you apply to. A hiring manager will likely pass on a letter that doesn’t show any effort or real interest in the position.
  • Irrelevant information: Students and young people preparing their first job applications sometimes try to make up for a lack of experience by discussing hobbies and other unrelated activities. Even if you need to discuss school or volunteer work, make sure to keep it professional in tone and relevant to the position at hand.
  • Spelling and grammar mistakes: Typos and complicated or incorrect grammar make it difficult for a hiring manager to understand what you’re trying to say. Don’t be afraid to talk in your own tone of voice. Above all, make sure a friend proofreads your letter before you submit.
  • Unprofessional formatting: Unfortunately, poor formatting can dash your letter’s chances before the hiring manager reads the first line.
Retail Cover Letter Example - Mistakes to avoid in  Retail cover letter
Retail Cover Letter Example - Mistakes to avoid in  Retail cover letter

Key takeaways

  1. A cover letter is a vital part of a great application. Make sure to maximize your chances of success by tailoring each letter to the specific position to which you’re applying.
  2. Some retail applications don’t require cover letters but unless the posting asks you not to submit one you shouldn’t throw away this great opportunity to make a case for yourself.
  3. Make the writing process simpler by breaking down the document into manageable sections which can be used across fields and industries.
  4. Be sure to include facts and figures as concrete examples of your skills and accomplishments.
  5. Avoid common mistakes like typos and generic letters, and don’t forget to pay attention to professional and polished formatting. Online tools can help.

With Resume.io’s field-tested cover letter templates, you can create a perfect cover letter in just a few minutes. No uncertainty, no hassle. Go out there and win!
 

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