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.
It’s often explained as getting the right merchandise, in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities at the right price. Never just say this in response when someone asks you what merchandising is, as this doesn’t take into consideration all the planning and strategy that goes on prior to getting the stock into stores. You need to give a more considered answer and this will really pay off at interview.
• Right Merchandise – Styles, brands, colours, sizes
• Right Place – Which store, depending on their budget and location
• Right Time – Having merchandise in stores at the right time in the season i.e. ready for Christmas or ‘Back to School’
• Right Quantities – Enough for the stores to make their budgets but not have to markdown stock at the end of the season
• The Right Price £££– Those that will attract customers in spite of competition yet generate a reasonable return on investment for the retailer i.e. profit
Graduates will start their careers at Allocator or Merchandise (Admin) Assistant level where you learn ground rules of the business and all the merchandising principles. It is essential that you have a numerate degree i.e. Maths, Statistics, Finance, Business Studies, Geography, etc along with some solid retail experience. Starting salaries are around £16-£18,000 mark
Merchandisers have to maximize profits, so you need to have the following attributes;
Analytical skills – enjoy analysing data and using this to identify trends and potential risks and opportunities
Communication skills – you will need excellent communication skills, as you will be dealing with suppliers and stores. Confidence is key!
Resilience under Pressure – you need to be strong enough to keep calm when under pressure. This role can require quick thinking to spot trends, evaluate large amounts of data and make sound decisions. Things can change very quickly and there are always deadlines to meet.
Computer literacy is vital as all data, trends and figure analysis will be done using EPOS information, a system most commonly used within merchandising to report on customer spending. Full training is supplied by all retail companies on joining, but each company will have its own unique reporting system.
Commercial Awareness – you need to understand what is going on in the market place, not just yours, but that of your competitors too!
So where do I go from here? Opportunities exist within fashion and non-fashion retail companies and in both high street and mail order operations. Merchandising is a generic term, and you may be called a Merchandise Admin Assistant, Distributor or Allocator. However, the role is the same and you will require the same attributes and skills in each.
So if this still sounds good to you and ticks all your boxes then check out our AMAZING Merchandising opportunities