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Retail merchandiser

Retail merchandisers make sure that goods are in the right stores, or online, at the right time and the right price.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but some employers may ask for a marketing, business or finance degree.

Other employers will want you to have strong numerical skills and experience in retail, especially an understanding and interest in stock control levels.

The Fashion Retail Academy runs a number of short courses like a 3-day Introduction to Merchandising.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply also has details of procurement and supply qualifications.

Both graduates and non-graduates need to apply for entry-level posts, usually as an allocator, distributor or merchandise administrative assistant. 

Doing a college course in retail operations or fashion retail could help you prepare for this job.

You could also get into the retail industry through an apprenticeship.

Retail Careers and The Retail Appointment has more information on how to become a retail merchandiser.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent number and data analysis skills, using spreadsheets and computer modelling
  • good decision-making skills
  • an understanding of what motivates customers to buy products
  • confidence when leading negotiations or presenting at board meetings
  • good interpersonal and communication skills to build useful working relationships
  • strong leadership skills and ability to influence others
  • excellent organisational and planning skills with ability to prioritise

3. What you'll do

You’ll use your high levels of product and customer awareness to predict demand. 

You’ll usually specialise in one area like fashion, food or home wares.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • planning product ranges and stock plans with buyers
  • planning budgets, forecasting sales and profit margins
  • presenting forecasts to managers
  • visiting manufacturers with retail buyers to learn about production cycles
  • negotiating prices and orders with suppliers, and agreeing delivery terms
  • tracking stock deliveries, making sure goods arrive on time and meet quality standards
  • setting prices and sales targets for individual stores
  • helping visual merchandisers to plan store layouts to promote key lines
  • promoting special offers and marketing initiatives
  • analysing sales figures and trends
  • staying aware of how competitors are performing
  • identifying and sorting out production and supply problems
  • managing, training and supervising staff
You may be called a product manager in a large retail chain and deal only with one or two product lines. In smaller companies you may be responsible for both buying and merchandising.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £22,000 and £25,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 to £60,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may need to work longer at busy times, like during special sales promotions or the opening of a new store.

You’ll be office-based but will also spend time visiting stores or suppliers, which could be in other parts of the UK or overseas. 

A driving licence and vehicle may be useful.

6. Career path and progression

You could be promoted to senior merchandiser and responsible for sales and budgetary control of a multimillion-pound department and managing a team of people. It’s typical to have reached senior merchandiser level within 7 to 8 years.

You could also become a merchandise manager, head of merchandising, merchandising director, retail business analyst or self-employed retail consultant.

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Last updated: 14 December 2016