Retail merchandiser: job description

Retail merchandiser: job description

Retail merchandisers work closely with company buyers to maximise profitability by predicting and monitoring sales trends and accurately controlling stock levels.
Merchandisers play a key role within a company as profitability can be affected by how successfully they undertake their work.

What does a retail merchandiser do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Retail merchandisers are responsible for ensuring that the right amount of goods are available in store and are being sold at the right price. Through shrewd planning, careful purchasing and sensible promotions profits can be enhanced. Merchandisers also assess the needs of individual stores and how they might differ based on factors such as store size and their target demographics.

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • working closely with buyers and other merchandisers to plan product ranges
  • meeting with suppliers, distributors and analysts
  • managing budgets
  • predicting sales and profits
  • negotiating quantities and delivery time-scales
  • supervising and training junior staff
  • managing levels and distribution of stock
  • handling supply/production problems as they arise
  • setting stock promotions/price reductions as appropriate
  • making financial presentations to senior managers
  • assessing sales performance of different ranges

You can find out more about what life in merchandising is like by reading our overview of merchandising. If you want to explore your options, you can also find overviews of eight other careers in retail in our retail job roles explained section, including visual merchandising.

Read how Tejal Raichura, a merchandiser for Next, got a job in merchandising and her tips for following in her footsteps here.

Typical employers of retail merchandisers

Retail merchandisers will usually work for the fashion industry, in national and independent stores and, with the continued rise of online shopping, internet shopping providers.

Vacancies are advertised by TARGETjobs, careers services, specialist recruitment agencies, in national newspapers and publications such as Retail Week, Retail Moves and The Appointment, and their online equivalents. Speculative applications can be beneficial and should be sent to the merchandising department of major employers.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a retail merchandising career for both university graduates and school leavers, although there are generally fewer opportunities available for school leavers. Graduates can enter the profession with a degree in any discipline, though a qualification in a related subject such as business, marketing, accountancy or management can be advantageous.

Relevant retail or office work experience is often necessary. This can be gained via vacation placements, part-time sales assistant jobs or general graduate store management training programmes.

To find out about how you can get into this career via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the retail, buying and fashion section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for merchandisers

  • Commercial awareness
  • Confidence
  • Able to cope with pressure
  • Teamworking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong numerical and analytical skills
  • IT skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Organisational skills

For more information on the skills you’ll need, read our article on the five skills retail employers look for – and how you can prove that you possess them.

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