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Written by Lyndsey McLaughlinLyndsey McLaughlin

Retail Cover Letter Example

Looking for your next retail job? It's important to "sell" yourself to the hiring manager. In this guide, we take a look at how to write an excellent retail cover letter from scratch.
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Retail Cover Letter Example
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Many people work in retail on a part-time basis while studying, or as a stop-gap between jobs. For others, retail is their career. The retail sector is extremely variable and your retail cover letter should be tailored to the role you are applying for. 

You might choose to work in a busy supermarket, you may indulge your athletic interests by working in a sports shop, or a small, quiet coffee shop might be of greater interest to you.

How can your retail cover letter show that you have a passion for the industry, and that you will be an asset to the company? 

The main intention of a cover letter is to stand out from the other job applications. You can find plenty of tips at Resume.io. Our free job search resources include an expanding collection of cover letter examples and writing guides.

This guide, together with our retail cover letter example, will show you how to write a cover letter that will get you through to the next stage of the recruitment process. These are the topics we will cover:

  • The most effective cover letter format to use for the greatest impact
  • Ensuring that each part of your cover letter is effective: the header, greeting, introduction, body, and conclusion
  • What approach to take when writing your cover letter
  • The most common mistakes made with cover letters and how to ensure you don’t make them.

Best format for a retail cover letter

To ensure you are concise with the content of your retail cover letter, it is vital that you follow a specific format and structure. In doing this, it will keep you on the right track and ensure you don’t end up writing content that isn’t relevant.

You should ensure that your retail cover letter has the following and use this format, together with the cover letter examples to ensure you stick to the point.

  • The cover letter header
  • The greeting / salutation
  • The cover letter intro
  • The middle paragraphs (body of the letter)
  • The ending paragraph of your cover letter (conclusion and call-to-action)

Your retail cover letter should give the reader an understanding of your retail sector experience, your reasons for being interested in this retail position, and how you would deal with the day-to-day challenges. 

How to write a cover letter
Related article
How to write a cover letter

An effective cover letter acts as a complement to your CV by adding some much-needed personality, highlighting your fit within the specific role, and setting the tone for your interview.

Now let’s look at how to get the most out of each individual section of your retail cover letter. In every instance, we’ll provide sample wording that you can edit to create your own. It comes from this adaptable retail cover letter example.

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 Asda — 34% longer, according to the research. Analysing customer flow patterns and product sales data, I estimate that over the past 13 years, I have helped over half a million of these shoppers make the best decisions for their little people.

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

As people increasingly turn to shopping online, 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 my add-on sales are consistently at the top of the store rankings. I have no qualms about persuading people to buy better products for their children.

I understand the rigours of big box retail and would love to tell you about my awards for operational excellence. My merchandising solutions have been featured in the retail press and my stock management and shrinkage targets were rarely missed. You can’t rave to a parent about a product if it isn’t on the shelf.

My commercial and operational highlights would serve me well at RetailMart:

  • Consistently exceeded sales and margin targets. Best year was +85% vs. budget.
  • On-shelf availability averaged 99.2% and shrinkage kept under 0.5% (1% target).
  • Promotional participation of 16% — cross-selling due to close customer relationships.

Managing varying-sized teams of sales associates has taught me the value of a cohesive target-led working environment, where every sale is celebrated as making a little life that bit better. I relish the chance to work with people who truly care and try to ensure that my own passion is as contagious as possible.

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

At the top of the page (or sometimes along one side), the cover letter header section should include these key personal details: your name, email, and telephone number. 

You may also want to include your LinkedIn handle (especially if you have some good recommendations on your profile.) Some hiring managers will read the cover letter and decide there and then on whether to progress, so make it as easy as possible for them to reach you.

Expert tip

State the times you can be reached via phone

It's preferable that your cover letter header indicates just one phone number — typically your mobile phone number — that you will answer at any time of day. 

However, if that's not possible and you do state both your home/office number and your mobile phone number, make sure you provide information on when you can be reached on each. For instance, if you are only available on your mobile phone during the day, write “daytime number” next to it and “evening number” beside your home/office number.

The last thing you want is to miss a call from the hiring manager, who may not leave a message and might just move onto the next candidate.

The main purpose of the cover letter header: Keep it simple but make sure you include key details. Check out the header on our retail cover letter sample for an idea of how to do this.

Cover letter greeting 

Retail workers know the impact of a positive greeting as customer’s come through the door. Customers pay close attention to the way retail workers treat them and you should keep this in mind when writing your cover letter.

First impressions count, and it is important to be respectful with the greeting on your cover letter. It is perfectly acceptable to say ‘hi’ to a customer as they enter the store, but the same does not apply when writing formal correspondence.

Instead, you should address the recipient by writing “Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms. Surname.” Be very careful with the correct spelling. Double-check it before you move onto the next writing stage. 

Where possible, use the recipient's name in your greeting, as this is a much more personable approach, which will help you to build an instant rapport with the hiring manager. If the job ad does not have name any recipient, so do your best to find out by searching online or even calling the employer's office to find out. If you still can't come up with anyone's name, you can just write “Dear Recruitment Team” or "Dear Retail Hiring Manager"

The main purpose of the greeting / salutation: Get your cover letter off on the right footing by using a greeting that is personal to the hiring manager. 

Cover letter introduction

Before delving straight into the main part of your retail cover letter, start with a compelling introduction that will grab the reader's attention and lead into your story.

What can you say to hiring managers to instantly get them to sit up and take notice? The first couple of sentences really need to make as much of an impact as possible; otherwise, why would anyone want to continue reading?

The introduction should provide information on your most relevant retail experience and show the reader that you are familiar with the challenges of working in this setting — staying on your feet all day and often dealing with difficult customers. You want to leave the hiring manager with no doubt that you understand this.

The main purpose of the cover letter introduction: Convey the essence of your retail experience and make an impact on the reader straight away.

The greeting and introduction from our retail cover letter sample appear below.

Adaptable cover letter greeting and introduction example

Dear Ms. Cass,

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

Copied!

Cover letter middle part (body)

The middle paragraphs of cover letters is where you can highlight the most important aspects of your career history. You should also aim to quantify your work experience highlights where applicable. Although it is a good idea to be personable in your cover letter, you should also sound professional. Entice the reader, giving the impression it would be foolish not to take your application forward to the next stage. No one wants to hire any job candidates who don’t have much to say for themselves —  especially in a customer-centred role like retail.

The main qualifications for working in retail is that you can deliver exceptional service, that you are willing to learn about the products and that you can deal with difficult situations. Quantifiable data is not necessarily a prerequisite for this type of role, unless it is one that has sales targets, such as working in a mobile phone company. However, you can give a sense of scope or scale by noting the size of store, number of customers per shift, upselling rate, or number of repeat or referred customers.  If you can support any of your career background with data, this will be more impactful.

It is vital that you can work well with others, as well as working without too much guidance. Retail workers are people-centred, but are expected to be able to work autonomously, as managers are usually behind the scenes.

Give the reader a good feeling for your ability to deliver great service and get on well with others. But also come across as a reliable person who will get on with the task in hand, without having to keep asking for assistance.

The main purpose of the body of your cover letter: Describe what a typical day in retail consists of for you, and how you deal with the challenges it can present. 

Our retail cover letter example illustrates what you might include in the middle part:

Adaptable cover letter body example

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

As people increasingly turn to shopping online, 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 my add-on sales are consistently at the top of the store rankings. I have no qualms about persuading people to buy better products for their children.

I understand the rigours of big box retail and would love to tell you about my awards for operational excellence. My merchandising solutions have been featured in the retail press and my stock management and shrinkage targets were rarely missed. You can’t rave to a parent about a product if it isn’t on the shelf.

My commercial and operational highlights would serve me well at RetailMart:

  • Consistently exceeded sales and margin targets. Best year was +85% vs. budget.
  • On-shelf availability averaged 99.2% and shrinkage kept under 0.5% (1% target).
  • Promotional participation of 16% — cross-selling due to close customer relationships.

Managing varying-sized teams of sales associates has taught me the value of a cohesive target-led working environment, where every sale is celebrated as making a little life that bit better. I relish the chance to work with people who truly care and try to ensure that my own passion is as contagious as possible.

Copied!

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

Confidence is key when working in retail, as you are dealing with a range of customers daily. This also means dealing with those who may not be as nice as you might like, or otherwise be quite challenging. In the conclusion of your cover letter, you can reaffirm your interest in the role, while also leaving the reader without any doubt that you are confident in your abilities.

Strive to leave a lasting impression that encourages the hiring manager to take your application forward to the next stage. The conclusion only needs to be a couple of sentences, but it should lead the reader nicely to your resume.

Feel free to also mention that you are excited about the prospect of exploring the role, and elaborating on your qualifications during an interview. This can be expressed without sounding presumptuous.

Your conclusion should remind the hiring manager of why you are the right candidate for the role.

The main purpose of the conclusion: Remind the hiring manager why you should advance to the interview stage.

The closing from our retail cover letter sample should give you a good idea of what to write for the conclusion of your own.

Adaptable cover letter conclusion 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: how to show you have a strong work ethic

Think about your retail cover letter as a story — with a start, middle and an ending. You want to provide the reader with a short snippet highlighting your previous experience, while ensuring the information you provide is relevant and impactful. It should be personal, with a clear and concise structure.

These are some goals you should look to achieve with your retail cover letter, to help you get selected for interview:

  • Be confident in your abilities — show the reader that you are confident and able to deal with challenges that may come your way.
  • Show the reader the kind of service you would deliver to the customer, and how you would ensure they return to the store.
  • Leave the hiring manager with no doubt that you can get on with others but work well on your own.
  • Highlight your enthusiasm for learning and building your product knowledge.

The customers who walk into a store and buy the products are what makes or breaks a business. Without customers, you have no business. Therefore, retail workers are at the true heart of the business. If you can show that you take pride in delivering an excellent service, that you are committed to helping the company build a positive brand, and that you are focused on upselling and supporting the company goals, you will prove that you are a candidate not to be missed. 

The hiring manager does not want to hire someone who is not going to maximise profits. Even when you buy a coffee, the retail assistant will try to (subtly) upsell by asking if you want an extra shot of espresso, or a cake with your coffee. These are often not noticeable, but they are part of the role for anyone working in retail.

This is what you want to achieve with your application. You want them to be assured that they can leave you to your own devices, but that you will do your utmost to deliver the best possible service, and to upsell products where possible. Consumers are much more likely to buy an “extra” if you are personable and nice to them.

Expert tip

Let the hiring manager know that you will go the extra mile


Retail stores are not just looking for someone who does the bare minimum in the job, even if it is just a stop gap while you’re at university. They want to be sure that you will go the extra mile both for the customer, and for the business. 

The content of your cover letter needs to be able to reflect this, but succinctly. It should never be more than one page, with the best length usually in the range of 200 to 400 words.

Retail cover letter with no experience

For many young people, a position in retail will be your first job. So, if you're new to the working world, you don't need to worry. Your cover letter is where you can make your case. Why is it that you will flourish in this position? Here's what you may choose to include: 

  • Voluntary experience. If you have ever worked on a voluntary basis, now is the time to shout about it. Let the hiring manager know what experience you have already.
  • Clubs or hobbies. Do you have any clubs or hobbies that are relevant to this sector? Highlight the skills — such as leadership and organisation — you have learned in them.
  • Knowledge. What do you already know about the retailer? Showing a genuine interest in the company will set you apart from the crowd of other candidates.
  • Availability. When can you start and when will you be available? If you are looking for a part-time role, what type of shifts will you be able to cover?

When writing your retail cover letter, show your enthusiasm. Let the hiring manager know that you are excited at the prospect of landing this job.

Common mistakes in a retail cover letter (and how to avoid them)

Even though you are working with customers and most of your communication will be verbal, it is important that your retail cover letter reflects the standard of professionalism you will deliver.

How you set out and present your cover letter will leave a lasting impression.

  1. Perfect spelling. There is no underestimating the importance of accurate spelling in your cover letter. It is not about your intellect, but about your attention to detail and your desire to be professional. There is no excuse these days for bad spelling. Spell checks are designed to help us, and not checking, suggests you have not put much time and effort into your application.
  2. Relevant information. Remember your resume will follow, so you don’t need to go into too much detail in your cover letter. Keep it short, snappy and relevant. Pick out the key points.
  3. Be personable. Let some of your personality and passion shine through. You can use your personality to inform the reader of why you particularly want to work in that sector of retail. For instance, ‘you are a big coffee drinker,’ or ‘you always keep up with fashion trends.’ Whatever it may be, try to make your cover letter a bit more personal than your resume.
  4. Don’t forget about good design. You may have noticed that the formatting on our cover letter sample was professional and attractive. Even when applying for a part-time retail job, your presentation counts for a lot. One of Resume.io's free cover letter templates can help you create a great layout in just a few clicks.

Key takeaways

  1. When writing your cover letter, take into account what a retail job looks like to you, and how you deal with customers when they arrive at the store.
  2. Show the hiring manager that you are committed to delivering exceptional service and that you are commercially aware.
  3. Ensure the hiring manager leaves the cover letter with complete confidence that you are professional and able to work well without too much guidance.
     
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