Retail merchandiser

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

Salary range: £16,000 to £60,000

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How to become a retail merchandiser

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • completing private industry-recognised training
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University

You can do a degree before joining a retail company as a trainee merchandiser. Relevant subjects include:

  • marketing
  • fashion buying and merchandising
  • fashion and business
  • retail business management

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You can take a college course to become a retail merchandiser. Courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Retail Operations
  • Level 3 Diploma in Fashion Retail
  • Level 3 Certificate in Procurement and Supply Operations

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You may be able to start through a retailer intermediate apprenticeship or retail team leader advanced apprenticeship before moving into merchandising.

If you already have some retail experience, you could apply to do a buying and merchandising assistant higher or degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

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Work

You could start in stock control or as a merchandise admin assistant and work your way up by learning on the job.

Other routes

If you’re interested in fashion retail, you could do a short course like an introduction to merchandising.

You can also take procurement and supply qualifications through the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply. These are recognised by the industry.

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Further information

You can find out more about becoming a retail merchandiser from the Fashion Retail Academy and Creative Choices.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work at a store or in an office.

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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.