The Most Interesting Jobs In Retail

by Chad Agrawal

If you’re considering a change of direction in your career in retail, you might be interested to learn about buyer jobs and merchandising jobs, which are two of the more interesting and skilled jobs available in this sector.

But what is a buyer, and what is a merchandiser for that matter? They both work closely with each other, though their roles are distinct.

A buyer is someone who chooses the products that go into the shops. They’re the ones responsible for what ends up on the shelves and what doesn’t. In a clothing store, for instance, they’ll decide whether to buy shorts and t-shirts or thicker, warmer clothing depending on the season and climate (in the UK that’s a hard job to master, since the weather can be unseasonable); they’ll also make their decisions about colour and style based on their knowledge of the fashion industry and the latest catwalk trends.

They’ll be familiar with the target clientele of a store so that they can choose products that will appeal to their customers, whether that’s high-end quality food products or cheap and cheerful jewellery and accessories.

Buyer jobs also involve researching different suppliers to identify products that would fit what they’re looking for and to negotiate the price to keep the shop’s profit and loss account healthy. They also have to liaise with the management team about what sort of lines of products the shop wants to introduce if the shop is looking to expand its market.

Buyer jobs are normally based at head office or regional offices, though visits to local stores are part of the day-to-day job, as are trips to trade shows and fashion shows to view potential stock.

Buyers can expect to earn $36,000 upwards depending on experience, with a very experienced buyer earning around $120,000 per year.

Merchandiser jobs are closely related to buyer jobs in that both determine what goes on the shelves: buyers choose the products whilst merchandisers choose where those products are placed in the store.

Buyers work for the shop or company that owns the shop, whilst merchandisers work for the sellers or manufacturers. Merchandisers negotiate with shops on behalf of their employer about where their products can be placed (there has been a lot of research into the effects of product placement on the profitability and saleability of those products).

Typically, merchandisers work to ensure that promotions are given prominent positions: that their employers’ stock is kept up to date and is displayed in such a way as to maximise sales. They also ensure that the key store staff are aware of the product and fully informed of its benefits so that if a customer asks about it, the store staff can answer with confidence and hopefully make a sale.

Products that a merchandiser might work with vary enormously, from food to fashion, greetings cards to games consoles. Merchandiser jobs are not as well paid as buyer jobs, but your pay will increase with experience.
Both types of job involve thinking and creativity as well as people skills. You’ll be helped in your search for a job if you have a degree in a retail subject and if you have experience of working in other sectors of retail (as a retail assistant, for instance).

This post was kindly provided by Jen C.

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

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