Retail merchandisers decide which products should be stocked by retail stores or supermarkets. They make sure that the correct mix and amount of products are stocked and displayed, in order to predict demand, meet customer needs and maximise profits.
Also known as
- Merchandiser, Retail
Video: - Joanna: Merchandiser
Video: - Jeanette: Head of Merchandising
As a Retail Merchandiser, you will make sure that the correct mix of products is sent to the stores at the right time, to achieve the best sales for their company. Duties vary between different companies, but all Retail Merchandisers liaise closely with Buyers, Product Managers and suppliers.
Working closely with Buyers, you plan product ranges and decide which products should be stocked for each type and size of store. By listening to comments from store management and input from Product Managers, you gather information about customers' reactions to products. This can be used in negotiations with suppliers about things like packaging designs.
Information technology has had a dramatic impact on the work of Retail Merchandisers and is increasingly doing so. More sophisticated methods are available to monitor stock and purchasing patterns.
Many companies now use EPOS (electronic point of sale) systems. Using these, you are able to access and analyse sales information from any of your company's stores.
This information helps you, Product Managers and Buyers to forecast sales and profits, and plan budgets. You might have to present your findings and recommendations to Senior Managers.
You can use this information together with a space management software program, to produce layout plans for stores. You can also use this technology to allocate stock to branches in the correct quantities and mixture of sizes, colours or types.
You have to make sure that you plan the correct amount of space in each store to match the demand for the products. This could vary in different parts of the country. By placing certain products next to each other in the store, you try to encourage people to buy more.
While most work is office-based, some local travel to retail outlets might be required. Occasionally, you could be expected to work long hours away from home - at the opening of a new store, for example.
You also monitor sales figures regularly. For example, you might look at the best and worst selling items in stores each week. For the best selling, you might try to secure extra supplies; for the worst, you might try to cancel some, work with Buyers and suppliers to change the order, or move stock from one branch to another.
Merchandisers might also review and analyse the activity of competitors.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Retail Merchandiser, you will need to:
- be an effective communicator, verbally and in writing
- enjoy working with figures and computer spreadsheets
- be decisive, organised and self-motivated
- think ahead and take a wide variety of factors into consideration
- be creative and good at solving problems
- think strategically
- work under pressure
- plan and prioritise
- pay attention to detail
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £18,500 - £20,000
- With experience: £21,500 - £25,500
- Senior Retail Merchandisers earn £26,000
Hours of work
Merchandisers usually work 35 to 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday, though longer hours are sometimes required in busy periods.
This career could include working on a
Where could I work?
Employers are the well-known high street chains and large independent retailers.
Online merchandising operations provide increasing opportunities for those with relevant skills and abilities.
Opportunities for Retail Merchandisers occur in central departments of large retailers.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on job boards and large employers' websites, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
Companies tend to favour graduates for this sort of work, although people with A levels might be able to enter if they have retail experience. Most entrants start in a support role and progress, through an Assistant Merchandiser post, after training.
Applicants with a degree in retailing, buying and merchandising, business or a numerical subject might be at an advantage. Competition is fierce, and experience of working in retailing is a definite advantage.
Foundation degrees are available in retail management and business.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
Some Retail Merchandisers begin their careers by completing a general retail management scheme. Specialisation in merchandising usually starts about a year after training commences.
Store and head office based training is often complemented by in service courses in management skills, technology and communication, and by placements in other departments, for example, buying and distribution.
If you would like some training, the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) also offer a buying and merchandising course that you could take. The course content includes:
- the role and responsibilities of Buyers and Merchandisers
- analysing buying and sales history and trends
- reviewing different buying strategies
- creating sales and range plans to boost sales and minimise markdowns
- choosing suppliers and building effective relationships
Check the website for dates and availability.
Other courses could be available in your area.
Previous experience working in retailing as a Merchandising or Purchasing Assistant would be really useful for this career.
Retail Merchandisers can progress to Senior Retail Merchandiser and management posts.
Most entrants are graduates, although it might be possible to enter with A levels.
For entry to a relevant degree course, the usual minimum requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
- English and maths at GCSE (grade C/4 or above)
Alternatives to A levels include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications in retail or retail knowledge
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
However, course requirements vary so check college/univesity websites very carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some entrants have developed relevant skills by working in retailing as a merchandising or purchasing assistant.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (for example, Access to Business) could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
There are degree and postgraduate courses in business available by distance learning.
The Open University offers foundation degrees in business and retail management.
The University of Stirling, together with the Institute of Retail Studies (IRS), offers an MBA in Retailing, by distance learning. This includes a module on merchandising and buying within a retail organisation.
- 7% of retail merchandisers have flexible hours.
Retail, fashion and hospitality industries
Tel: 020 8340 3366
National Skills Academy for Food & Drink
Sector Skills Council for the food and drinks industry
Food and drink careers
A Career in Retail
Address: 4th Floor, 93 Newman Street, London W1T 3EZ
Tel: 020 7462 5060
Fashion Retail Academy
Address: 15 Gresse Street, London W1T 1QL
Tel: 020 7307 2345
University of the Arts London (UAL)
Address: 272 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EY
Tel: 020 7514 6000