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What is a Merchandiser?

Also known as: Merchant.

A merchandiser is someone who ensures that the correct amount of products are on hand in a store or on a website. They make sure the products arrive on time, and work closely with the purchasing department (and buyers) in order to forecast, plan, and monitor stock levels. Merchandisers also work closely with the display staff in order to decide how goods should be displayed so as to maximize sales. In smaller companies, the same individual may be responsible for both the merchandising and the buying.

How to Become a Merchandiser

What does a Merchandiser do?

Merchandisers have been called "image consultants for the retail world." Merchandising is used to promote specific products and services and to increase sales. It entices customers to enter the store, thus increasing their chances of purchasing something. While the buyer selects the lines, the merchandiser decides how much money should be spent, how many lines should be bought, and in what quantities.

Merchandisers play a key role within retail, as the profit a company makes can be affected by how successfully they manage their work. Merchandisers set prices, and plan promotions and markdowns as necessary. They also oversee delivery and distribution of stock and deal with suppliers.

Duties vary depending on the company and the retail sector, but will typically include:

  • planning product ranges, and preparing sales and stock plans with buyers
  • communicating with buyers, analysts, stores, suppliers, and distributors
  • keeping a library of appropriate data
  • working closely with display staff and managers on how product should be displayed
  • producing 'statements' (layout plans for stores)
  • forecasting profits and sales
  • planning budgets and presenting sales forecasts
  • controlling stock levels based on forecasts
  • analyzing the bestselling price points, colours or styles
  • staying aware of competitors' performance
  • keeping an eye on slow sellers and taking action to reduce prices or set promotions
  • analyzing the previous season's sales
  • making financial presentations to senior managers
  • accompanying buyers on visits to manufacturers
  • meeting with suppliers and managing the distribution of stock
  • negotiating prices, ordering stock, scheduling delivery dates, completing paperwork
  • identifying production and supply difficulties and dealing with any problems
  • managing, training and supervising junior staff

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How to become a Merchandiser

Merchandising may require a degree, however, a high school diploma may be sufficient education with the right experience and other relevant qualifications. Most employers also offer short-term, on-site training so you can learn and meet all the job requirements.

Typically a merchandiser will work under a team leader or a manager. Several managers are grouped together into a geographic region which is led by a district manager. A successful merchandiser may be able to move into a management role in one of these areas.

What is the workplace of a Merchandiser like?

Merchandisers can work in a variety of industries, such as fashion, homeware, DIY or food retail. Employers may include multiple chain stores, supermarkets, department stores, manufacturers and wholesalers, mail order, and internet companies. Merchandisers may need to relocate to gain promotion, and there are opportunities to work abroad, particularly for multi-national companies.



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Further Reading

  • The Life Of a Merchandiser www.careers.topshop.com

    “The office is crammed – and I do mean crammed - full of our products. The merchandising and buying teams sit next to each other, so it’s easy to quickly grab samples, have a chat about what’s selling, and work on next season’s range...

  • What Does the Role of Merchandiser Involve? www.retailhumanresources.com

    Merchandising is about planning and developing a strategy to enable a company to sell a range of products that delivers sales and profit targets. A Merchandiser will work closely with a Buyer to ensure the product that's bought will enable them to achieve the sales plan.

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Become a Merchandiser