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)
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things (creativity)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptable)
  • 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:

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.