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.
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
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.
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.
“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...