Understanding Merchandising

A common question I am often asked by candidates is around the varying types of merchandising within the industry. Roles within this field can fall under Merchandising, Branch merchandising, Product merchandising, & Online merchandising; this can all be a bit confusing especially if you are new to the industry! I have summarised some key points below which should come in handy and help define which area you are interested in and would best suit your skills.

Product Merchandising

Product merchandising is a role in which you work closely with the design and development teams to build ranges, and is very product focused which is why clients will request a product merchandiser from a certain product area i.e menswear. This role is typical within an own branded luxury or lifestyle company in which there is no buying team or the company is mostly wholesale/ online with a lower number of stores. These roles are still highly analytical with some creative element. This suits someone who has a real commercial / business background (analytical, fashion orientated, business focussed) but with a full understanding / affiliation for design and the ability to persuade and influence between teams.

Merchandising (American companies often use the term Planners)

Merchandising within most high street retailers will deal with higher volumes of stock and the role will focus around analysing how the product is performing in stores. As you further your career within this type of job you will become responsible for a wider remit i.e it might start with looking after men cufflinks and grow into overseeing the whole of the mens accessories department. Some people think that it’s just about working with spreadsheets. The role will move from not only being involved in the sales and stock for the current season but as you take responsibility for your own areas you will also start to plan the future fashion seasons by setting out how much stock should be brought. The role is highly analytical and is not working with product.

Branch Merchandiser

Within a Branch Merchandising role, you will look after a geographical location for all products in your stores and ensure that sales are maximised and opportunities are seized when sales are booming, through replenishment. This involves allocating stock to the stores, helping with line queries, planning, launching, availability, looking after new stores, and dealing with any upcoming offers. Where sales under-perform you would investigate issues and visit stores in order to understand why the customers liked one product over another.

Online/ E-Commerce Merchandiser

This role does not solely involve the visual display of retail merchandise for e-commerce site, you will also be involved in the season trading of products such as Sales Budgeting, Reforecasting and OTB (Open to Buy) Management. This is still a relatively new area (compared to retail merchandising). Clients ideally prefer those with some experience such as someone coming from an e-tailer however they often look at those with multi channel experience (those who have done retail & online in their role).

If you have any further questions regarding this topic or looking for a new move please call me on 0208 237 8900 or email jacqui@fsrl.co.uk