Job descriptions and industry overviews

Retail merchandiser: job description

1 Aug 2023, 13:57

Retail merchandisers work closely with company buyers to maximise profitability by predicting and monitoring sales trends and accurately controlling stock levels.

A bird's eye view of a retail store

What does a retail merchandiser do? | Difference between buyers and merchandisers | Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Retail merchandisers are responsible for ensuring that the right amount of goods are available and are being sold at the right price. As such, merchandisers assess the needs of individual stores and how they might differ based on factors such as store size and their target demographics.

The decisions made by a merchandiser are crucial to the success of the business; if they make a poor choice, there could be financial and logistical implications. If the merchandising team were to give a smaller store the same amount of stock as a larger store then they may run the risk of not being able to sell it all. This could mean having to pay for the stock to be stored in warehouses. Or it could mean having to sell off the stock at a reduced price in order to get rid of it. Alternatively, if the merchandiser underestimated the amount of stock the larger store would get through it could cause a demand problem. Customers might not be able to get the product they want and so may turn to a different retailer.

And the same considerations extend to online retailing, where they also have to consider the number of returns.

Typical responsibilities of merchandiser jobs include:

  • working closely with buyers and other merchandisers to plan product ranges
  • meeting with suppliers, distributors and analysts
  • managing budgets
  • analysing data and trends to predict sales and profits and to assess the sales performance of different ranges
  • negotiating quantities and delivery timescales
  • managing levels and distribution of stock
  • handling supply/production problems as they arise
  • setting stock promotions/price reductions as appropriate.

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

What is the difference between merchandisers and buyers?

Buyers choose which products the retailer should sell and merchandisers decide how much of each product to buy and where the stock should be allocated. In order to make these decisions, merchandisers need to work with buyers to identify customer trends. They also constantly review sales history together and monitor how well different products are performing.

Sometimes the job of a merchandiser and the job of a buyer are combined: you may well see advertisements for a trainee buyer/merchandiser, for example.

Graduate merchandiser salaries

The salary of a graduate trainee merchandiser is typically somewhere between £21,000 and £37,000, depending on the employer and the location. Our guide to the highest paying graduate jobs has more information on retail salaries.

Typical employers of retail merchandisers

Retail merchandisers work, unsurprisingly, for a large retailers, including online only companies.

Vacancies are advertised by targetjobs , careers services, specialist recruitment agencies and on retail-focused industry news sites.

Strengthen your job applications by reading our tips on how to write a great graduate retail CV .

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.

Postgraduate courses in merchandising are available and can help you develop your knowledge of this area. However, it is worth checking with individual employers to find out their thoughts on postgraduate courses; major retailers don't typically have roles specifically for postgraduates.

Work experience in retail will be hugely beneficial when applying for merchandising jobs. There are some merchandising placements available that could help you get ahead, although any experience of working in a retail environment will give you valuable insights into aspects that a merchandiser needs to consider. Use our guide to retail work experience to help you explore your options.

Key skills for merchandisers

  • A love of retail and good commercial awareness
  • Excellent data analysis skills and confidence working with numbers
  • Presentation skills and the ability to explain data clearly
  • The ability to use database and spreadsheet software
  • Strong decision-making skills
  • The ability to identify and offer effective solutions to problems
  • Good communication and teamwork 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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