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How to Become a Stocker

Do you have a keen sense of responsibility and good physical endurance? A position as a stocker might be the detail-oriented job you need. A stocker job entails receiving and sorting merchandise from delivery trucks. They first move the goods to the appropriate location in the warehouse, then they stock goods on retail shelves, organize them, and restock shelves when needed. These individuals ensure that displays are attractive and that prices are clearly marked. Stockers might also answer customer questions and help them find products. 

Stockers work independently for the most part, but they are normally under the supervision of a general manager or a warehouse manager. Most stockers are employed in grocery stores, general merchandise stores, and department stores. Some stockers work in warehouses.

The physical demands of a stocker vary depending on the job, but they may have to carry a fair amount of weight at times and can be on their feet for long periods of time. Organizational skills and experience managing inventory are essential for a successful stocking professional.

Sample job description

The stocker helps provide and deliver the right products to our customers by safely unloading merchandise from incoming freight, moving it to the sales floor, and stocking departments. This associate handles all types of materials, replaces damaged shelving, keeps the backroom organized, and ensures equipment is charged. Additionally, this associate organizes merchandise and top stock to set up stores for sales success. To be successful, the associate must understand and prepare for the physical demands of moving merchandise for the majority of his/her shift.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Receive and unload goods delivered to the store 
  • Do inventory and verify product counts
  • Stock retail shelves, making sure labels are clear and visible 
  • Maintain and stock product displays, ensuring products are properly rotated, organized, stocked, labeled, and clean
  • Ensure prices are clearly displayed and correct
  • Review and analyze productivity and discuss loss prevention with management
  • Mark items with identifying codes, such as price, stock, or inventory control codes
  • Assist customers with queries 
  • Fill customers online and phone orders by retrieving ordered merchandise
  • Prepare merchandise for shipment
  • Replenish inventory
  • Replace damaged or missing products
  • Operate forklift

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Previous retail or warehouses experience preferable

Required skills and qualifications

  • Basic math skills
  • Ability to stand for long hours
  • Able to lift heavy merchandise
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Friendly disposition

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience working with computers
  • Experience operating a forklift
  • Experience in receiving, handling, and stocking in a retail or warehouse environment

Typical work environment

Stockers normally work in retail and department stores of all sizes where they generally report to the store owner or the department manager. They receive, unload, and unpack cartons, crates, and boxes of merchandise and other goods. They also verify labels and other information such as quantity before moving stock to where it needs to go. The job can be physically demanding and require lifting heavy loads.

Typical hours

Full-time stockers typically work about 30-40 hours per week, and part-time stockers work on average 26-30 hours per week. Some stockers work in stores that operate 24 hours a day, so work hours are often outside of regular work hours, which includes nights and weekends.

Available certifications

There are no certifications required or recommended for stockers to maintain or advance in their careers. However, a stocker can earn a license to operate a forklift, which will make them more competitive and give them a step up from their peers as new positions and advancements become available. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers examinations and courses to earn a forklift license for professionals in all industries. 

  • OSHA Compliant Forklift Certification. The OSHA forklift certification demonstrates the ability to safely and successfully operate a forklift. To earn the OSHA Compliant Forklift Certification, candidates must be 18 years of age, pass an online exam, and confirm that they have gained experience operating and driving a forklift per OSHA guidelines. If a candidate does not have experience, they must obtain practical, hands-on experience through their place of employment. Recertification courses are also available.  

Forklifts are utilized in a variety of industries, such as construction, manufacturing, and freight, and are mostly used in construction sites and warehouses. Obtaining the OSHA forklift certification can open up career opportunities in these industries beyond a stocker position. 

Career path

The path to becoming a stocker usually starts with some level of retail or warehouse experience. For example, you might land an entry-level job bagging groceries at a supermarket and gain some experience working in that environment. When an opening as a stocker becomes available in the store, you’ll generally be better prepared to move into that position than a candidate from outside the company. Having a friendly attitude toward customers and co-workers, a good work ethic, taking on more responsibility, and having excellent attention to detail are preferred traits that will get you noticed and help get you the job. With excellent attention to detail, great organizational skills, and hard work, opportunities such as warehouse manager or department manager can become available to you. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 53-7065

2020 Employment6,215,000
Projected Employment in 20306,621,500
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 7% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift406,500 increase

Over the last year and a half, changes in the supply chain due to the pandemic have resulted at times in empty or partially filled shelves at grocery stores and other merchandising locations. More people are shopping online for merchandise and groceries, leaving brick-and-mortar establishments scrambling to keep up with the change in buying trends. Retailers are focusing on merchandising and securing or maintaining customer loyalty more than trying to retool their supply chain. This shift to online shopping means fewer people in stores. The position of stocker will need to expand. Although the need to receive goods, stock shelves, assist with customer requests, and maintain store displays and pricing labels will still be in demand, stockers will also be focused on stocking online orders, stocking shelves for customer pickup, and loading trucks for customer delivery.