Retail merchandisers work closely with retail buyers. Although in some smaller retail stores the jobs of both buyer and merchandiser are amalgamated into one role, they do entail varying levels of responsibility.
Details of the budget and finances for the retail items brought into the store are the responsibility of the merchandiser, who ultimately decides what kind of items should be purchased for selling. The buyer, on the other hand, merely purchasers within the parameters set by the merchandiser.
The job is central to the financial health of a retail organization. Merchandisers plan what products should be sold in the store and project profits from these items to ensure a healthy budget is maintained.
In some companies, the merchandiser will also work with the department handling the visual displays of the stores. In short: retail merchandisers analyse every aspect of the product sales in order to improve profits.
Salary & benefits
Retail merchandisers can get £28,000 to £45,000 a year, although these figures are reserved for experienced professionals. For entry level graduates, the annual salary is somewhere between £20,000 and £30,000.
Senior retail merchandisers can get as much as £60,000 a year.
The working schedule here is very stable (the typical nine-to-five job), but there will be instances when merchandisers need to work longer hours.
For example, when a company is opening a store, the input of the merchandiser is essential, so his or her expertise may be called upon around the clock.
In any case, the actual job responsibilities here vary from company to company. Smaller companies task the merchandiser to do the job of a retail buyer as well.
This can be both challenging and convenient, depending on the size of the company and the range of their service.
Most retail merchandisers in the industry have degrees in accountancy, business, or marketing, although there are a few with retail management-focused degrees under their belts.
Employers will consideration applicants from any background, but those with experience in business and management have the definite edge.
The work is basically management-focused and finance-based by nature, so applicants should be adept with numbers and figures. Retail merchandisers will need to work out financial plans, so a basic understanding of accountancy concepts and an adequate understanding of sales data are a must.
Training & progression
There is no standard training scheme for retail merchandisers, just as there are no standard education requirements for the position. Therefore, employers are likely to hire applicants according to their experience and professional skills.
There are a few courses available for the development and training of retail merchandisers—although the best programs are focused on specific niches and industries.
For instance, some universities in the country actually offer retail buying and merchandising short courses that focus on fashion retailing. It’s best for merchandisers to look into their career plan to see what area they might want to specialise in.
As for career progress, merchandisers can be promoted to the director of the merchandising department. This is a major role, especially since companies with this position are massive, multinational ones, making it a rather high-profile position.
Some can progress in to the specific industries they dealt with as merchandisers. For instance, the clothing retail merchandiser of a major store can move into the fashion industry. This move isn’t easy, and it will require further training and credential-building, but it is common and possible.