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Retail Operations

Retail Operations



The National Certificate: Wholesale and Retail Operations, addresses skills and competencies for enabling entry-level employment and positions. The qualifying learner will to access opportunities for further development and training in the specialised areas of Wholesale and Retail such as:

• Operations.
• Administration.
• Merchandising.
• Stock control.
• Customer service.
• Visual display merchandising.
• Help desk operations.

After successful completion of this qualifications learners will be able to:

• Understand the sector in which they work.
• Provide customers with a high level of service.
• Operate effectively and efficiently in their area of specialisation.

This qualification has been developed to allow people within the industry to advance in an area of specialisation or to move into other areas of specialisation in the sector.


The Wholesale and Retail environment buys and sells a wide range of products and stock form manufacturers to the end user / consumer. Throughout this process a number of people perform a variety of functions. These functions can vary according to the size and type of organisation.

Each of these functions may in its own right lead to a whole career in the industry. These functions include:

• Help Desk operating.
• Sales staff.
• Merchandising.
• Warehousing.
• Wholesaling.
• Buying/purchasing.
• Administration.
• Credit management.
• Management.

Industry is characterised by a wide variety of organisations from very small wholesale and retail operators to major national and international chain corporations. These include:

• Spaza/house shops.
• Independent stores.
• Chain stores.
• Small and Large wholesalers.
• Franchisers.
• Distribution Centres.
• Tele-marketing organisations.
• External contractors.

The industry is labour intensive and service driven. The sector requires specific skills and abilities in order to remain profitable thereby increasing growth and job opportunities. This qualification is aimed at individuals entering the sector for the first time, informal / business owners as well as individuals working in entry level occupations in the sector.

This qualification is designed to provide the skills and abilities for people working in or looking for a career-path in Wholesale and Retailing:

• SME retailing.
• Help Desks.
• Chain stores.
• Merchandising.
• Wholesaling.


It is assumed that learners accessing this qualification are competent in:

• Communication at NQF Level 1.
• Mathematical Literacy at NQF Level 1.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):

The structure of this Unit Standard based Qualification makes the Recognition of Prior Learning possible. Learner and Assessor will jointly decide on methods to determine prior learning and competence in the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes implicit in the Qualification and the associated Unit Standards. Recognition of Prior Learning will be done by means of an Integrated Assessment.

This Recognition of Prior Learning may allow for:

• Accelerated access to further learning at this or higher levels on the NQF.
• Gaining of credits for Unit Standards in this Qualification.
• Obtaining this Qualification in whole or in part.

All recognition of Prior Learning is subject to quality assurance by the relevant ETQA or an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.

Access to the qualification:

There is open access to any learner who complies with the learning assumed to be in place or equivalent competencies. It is required that learners are able to arrange for assessment in either a Wholesale and Retail or simulated environment.


This qualification will serve to link the NQF Level 2 National Certificate: Wholesale and Retail Operations qualification and the FET Certificate: Generic Management. The current gap in the learning pathway for Wholesale and Retail (W and R) practitioners will be filled by this qualification. It will serve as the second in the Wholesale and Retail Operations learning pathway and provide a basis for further learning. While the qualifying learners will experience personal growth and development, workplace succession planning will be more readily achieved.

The operational process includes; ordering stock, receiving, dispatching, stock control, cash control, sales and marketing and displaying, responsible credit promotion, perishable foods preparation, sales and display and the running of an informal small business.

This qualification will serve to provide the W and R sector with personnel that can perform the operation functions to industry standards, optimise productivity and improve service levels. The qualifying learner will undergo personal development that will contribute to social and economic development.

The learner assessed as competent against this qualification will be able to:

• Ensure a positive customer experience in a W and R business unit.
• Explain how employees can influence the objectives of a W and R business unit.


The scarce and critical skills list compiled by the South African Department of Labour includes many of the competencies in this qualification. The occupations associated with these competencies are listed as:

• Sellers: Sales Persons and Assistants, Representatives.
• Cashiers.
• General and Finance Administrators.
• Trade Union Officials.
• Merchandisers.
• Checkout Operators and Office Cash Clerks.
• General Clerks.

This qualification provides a planned combination of learning outcomes that will equip qualifying learners with the knowledge and applied competence in wholesale and retail operations and a basis for further learning. It provides a formal route to acquiring the operations skills and will provide recognition of experiential learning in the sector.

This is one of the fastest growing industries in SA with the emergence of the informal sector. Previous restrictions (legislation) are no longer an obstacle to industry development. It is one of the largest contributors to the GDP and there is regional strength of the sector in the SADC region.

This qualification will serve to further develop learners who have achieved the NQF Level 2: National Certificate: Wholesale and Retail Operations. It will also serve new-comers to the operations function, school leavers and the currently unemployed. It will enhance career development for learners that have previous experience in operations.

LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING It would be desirable for learners wishing to access this Qualification to be competent at:

• Communication at NQF Level 2.
• Mathematical Literacy at NQF Level 2.

Recognition of Prior Learning:

This Qualification and the entire fundamental, core and elective Unit Standards associated with it can be achieved by any learner through the recognition of prior learning, which includes learning outcomes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience. The qualification can be obtained in part through the recognition of prior learning.

Access to the Qualification:

There is open access to this Qualification.

This qualification is a further step in a learning pathway that underpins a career in the Wholesale and Retail arena, and helps the progression for a career path within an organisation. This qualification is rooted in actual practice and the learner is expected to be part of a public or private organisation and/or company operating in the area.

The Certificate will form part of a learning pathway that currently stretches from NQF Levels 2 to 5. This pathway will culminate in a qualification at NQF Level 5 with the prospect of a management position within an organisation.

Specifically, the purpose of this Certificate qualification is to equip learners to understand and acquaint themselves with the principles of supervision and team leadership within the Wholesale & Retail sector and to provide career paths with associated learnerships through various levels and areas of the Wholesale and Retail environment. Supervision in this context includes all activities ensuring the achievement of desired results and the correct implementation of prescribed policies, procedures and activities. The Certificate thus aims to build capacity and improve skills at lower management level in the Wholesale and Retail sector thus ensuring the development of competence and increased service delivery in this field.

The qualification provides learners with greater competence in people management within the Wholesale and Retail Sector.

Rationale for the Qualification

South Africa has a well-developed and extensive Wholesale & Retail industry, which is spread nationally.

It is estimated that all those individuals who are wishing to enter the supervisory management level in the Wholesale and Retail Sector will benefit from the proposed Qualification.

The Certificate in Wholesale and Retail Operations Supervision, NQF Level 4, is designed to meet the needs of the learners who are already employed and involved in the Wholesale and Retail field. Learners with a qualification up to level 3, including through RPL, who wish to pursue a career in this area, or in fields where this learning may be useful will be allowed access to this certificate. This furthermore includes adult learners who want to enter the arena or develop their careers in one or more of the related sub-fields. Since this Certificate is part of a learning pathway it will allow mobility to persons operating at any level in the field.

The development of competence in this field will lead to world-class service delivery and company longevity. Application of the learning achieved in completing this qualification will also assist persons to enter other industries where they will be able to apply this learning in a different context.

This qualification also reflects some of the needs of the Wholesale and Retail Sector both now and in the future. It gives accessibility and flexibility to learners employed at the appropriate level desiring learning and growth opportunities, as well as the self-employed. In addition, many of those planning to develop to higher levels, or entering an organisation at a higher level, may well want to, or be required to, complete learning at this level.

The added value of the skills, knowledge and understanding developed by the Certificate will be evidenced by greater productivity resulting from the improved performance by the learner, due to the integration of the learning which will have taken place in the workplace.

LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING Learners starting to access this qualification will have demonstrated competence against the relevant Numeracy and First Language Literacy standards at NQF Level 3, either through a previous qualification, or through the process of Recognition of Prior Learning, which assesses workplace-based experiential learning.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

This Qualification can be achieved wholly or in part through the Recognition of Prior Learning and the Qualification may be granted to learners who have acquired the skills and knowledge without attending formal courses providing they can demonstrate competence in the outcomes of the individual Unit Standards as required by the Fundamental, Core and Elective areas stipulated in the Qualification and by the Exit Level Outcomes.

An RPL process may also be used to credit learners with Unit Standards in which they have developed the necessary competency as a result of workplace and experiential learning

RPL may also be used by learners, who are not in possession of an FETC or equivalent qualification, to gain access to the Qualification.

Learners submitting themselves for RPL should be thoroughly briefed prior to the assessment, and will be required to submit a Portfolio of Evidence in the prescribed format to be assessed for formal recognition. While this is primarily a workplace-based Qualification, evidence from other areas of endeavour may be introduced if pertinent to any of the exit level outcomes.

An NQF 4 stands for National Qualifications Framework. Every qualification in South Africa is rated on this framework. ... If you passed matric then you definitely have an NQF 4. If you didn't pass matric, don't worry. It's easy to remedy that and get one without interrupting your life too much.