Retail Merchandiser

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Retail & Consumer

What you will 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 homewares.

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.


You’ll need:

  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things (creative skills)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Retail Merchandiser, there are no specific subject requirements. However, having a good general education and certain skills can be beneficial for this role. Retail Merchandisers are responsible for planning and implementing product strategies to optimize sales and profitability. Here are some subjects and skills that can be advantageous:

  1. Mathematics: Strong math skills are essential for tasks such as analysing sales data, pricing products, and managing budgets.
  2. Business Studies: Business studies can provide you with a foundational understanding of business concepts, including retail marketing, inventory management, and financial analysis.
  3. Economics: While not always available, economics courses can offer valuable insights into market trends, consumer behaviour, and pricing strategies.
  4. English: Effective communication skills are important for creating merchandising materials, product descriptions, and reports.
  5. IT/Computer Science: Proficiency with computer software, data analysis tools, and e-commerce platforms is valuable for analyzing sales data and managing online product listings.
  6. Design and Technology: Knowledge of product design, display techniques, and visual merchandising can be beneficial for presenting products effectively.
  7. Geography: Some Retail Merchandisers may need to consider geographical factors when planning product distribution and display.
  8. Art or Graphic Design: If you’re involved in creating visual displays or marketing materials, a background in art or graphic design can be an asset.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

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

You can do a degree before joining a retail company as a trainee merchandiser. Employers recruit from a range of degree subjects.

Particularly relevant subjects include:

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

It’s useful to get some retail or office-based experience during your studies to help you stand out when you apply for graduate roles.

Your university careers service can help you to find summer placement, internship and year placement opportunities.

You can take a college course to become a retail merchandiser – this will vary according to the country where you reside. UK Courses, for example, include:

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

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.

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.

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

Working Hours 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 local or international.

A driving licence and vehicle may be useful.

Career Path & 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.