How to Become a General Merchandiser (With Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 20, 2022 | Published January 3, 2022

Updated August 20, 2022

Published January 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A general merchandiser holds a very important position in sales and inventory management. A general merchandiser holds a range of responsibilities, which requires an organized, detail-oriented, and creative mind. If you're interested in a career in retail and these attributes describe you, then a general merchandiser may be a good career option for you. In this article, we discuss how to become a general merchandiser, what a general merchandiser is, what they do, and some useful skills to have as a general merchandiser.

How to become a general merchandiser

Below are steps you can follow on how to become a general merchandiser:

1. Obtain your high school diploma

Most companies require you to have your high school diploma or an equivalent. If you're finishing high school or trying to obtain your high school diploma, but want experience in the retail industry, a good alternative is to apply for an entry-level position while obtaining your diploma. This allows you to gain retail experience while obtaining the credentials needed for a general merchandiser position.

2. Gain experience in retail

Starting as an entry-level position in the retail industry as a cashier, stocker, or a sales-person is a great way to gain experience. With these positions, you can gain many useful skills and knowledge that can transfer over to a general merchandising position. For example, a cashier position allows you to handle transactions, a stocker position allows you to work with and organize products, and a sales-person position allows you to learn different strategies on how to sell products.

You can also become familiar with the company's policies and procedures, which gives you an advantage over other applicants. Ultimately, these positions allow you to experience what the retail industry is like first-hand, and you can decide if the retail industry is right for you. Most general merchandiser positions also require at least two years of retail experience.

Related: 15 Entry-Level Jobs That Pay Well

3. Obtain certification

While you a certification or a post-secondary degree isn't necessary for the position, it may be an advantage to make your resume more competitive. Having a background in business, or economics can help you develop your skills and knowledge that you can apply to a retail setting, which can lead to further promotional opportunities. Some post-secondary schools also offer certification in merchandising, economics, logistics, or other related fields as an alternative.

4. Apply for general merchandiser positions

Lastly, write your resume and cover letter to begin applying for general merchandiser positions in your area. When a company hires you, they may train you on the job to help you familiarize yourself with specific store policies and products. They may also train you to use their inventory management software to log inventory updates and instruct you on how to perform other tasks and duties they outline in their job description.

What is a general merchandiser?

A general merchandiser is a retail inventory professional. Their main responsibilities are to ensure that they promote and update a store's merchandise. While an important part of their job is to keep track of inventory, they're also responsible for analyzing and evaluating the inventory to see if the product is selling well or to come up with a promotional strategy to increase sales. Sometimes, if the store is small enough, and a second person is not necessary, the general manager may take on the duties of the general merchandiser.

What does a general merchandiser do?

A general merchandiser's duties and responsibilities directly relate to the marketing, inventory, and sales departments of the company. Here's a list of some specific tasks and duties a general merchandiser performs:

  • keep track of warehouse inventory levels and submit detailed inventory reports

  • analyze and evaluate products for quality

  • develop creative promotional strategies to increase sales

  • communicate and address customer issues to the company

  • help to organize warehouses to make products accessible

  • ensure the sales floor is fully stocked

  • provide quality customer service and is knowledgeable of the merchandise

  • plan, coordinate, and install window and in-store visual displays to promote products that follow seasonal change or current promotions

What is the average salary of a general merchandiser?

The national average salary of a general merchandiser is $45,642 per year. The exact amount may vary depending on where you work, your education, or your experience. If you work hard as a general merchandiser, your employer may promote you to the role of store manager once you have enough experience. General merchandisers typically work in retail stores, like apparel shops and grocers, but they can work for companies as well, including food and beverage manufacturers.

Useful skills for general merchandisers to have

While a large part of training to become a general merchandiser from retail experience, it can also be an advantage to develop some of these following skills. Here are 7 skills and qualities employers look for when choosing a general merchandiser:

Organizational skills

As a general merchandiser, it's very important to have good organizational skills. One of the general merchandiser's main responsibilities is to organize products either on the sales floor, the stock room, or with inventory management teams in warehouses. Keeping a stock room organized makes it easier to keep track of inventory, and to keep products easily accessible.

Detail-oriented

Being detail-oriented is another key quality to have as a general merchandiser. Whether it's creating a detailed visual display or ensuring you don't make a mistake when logging inventory, it's crucial to focus on the details to benefit sales. For example, when you create a detailed visual display, small details like an accessory or a hat on a mannequin can help sell an outfit or piece of clothing to a potential customer. Making sure you are attentive to detail can help you provide clear communication with colleagues when logging inventory.

Related: Attention to Detail

Inventory management skills

Inventory management skills are a vital asset to have as a general merchandiser. They allow you to have a full understanding of what managing inventory entails, including how to rotate stock and track the movement of seasonal products. Managing inventory is one of the main responsibilities a general merchandiser has. This includes keeping stock rooms organized and accessible, logging inventory using inventory management software, and analyzing product quality.

Analytical skills

While the general merchandiser is responsible for organizing and keeping track of inventory, they're also responsible for analyzing and evaluating inventory. Having analytical skills is an important asset when analyzing inventory to decide to either order more products, or to come up with a promotional strategy to increase sales for a certain product. This can include promoting discounts for certain products or creating visually appealing signage to encourage customers to come in and shop.

Related: Analytical Skills: Essential for Every Job

Creativity

While it's important to have an analytical and detail-oriented mind, it's also important to be creative. General merchandisers create and plan promotional strategies to help drive sales. This usually consists of creating visually appealing in-store displays to showcase the product. For example, They may dress mannequins or decorate the store during holiday seasons. They're also responsible for designing the layout of the store to promote seasonal products or new merchandise.

Physical stamina

Having strong physical stamina is a beneficial asset to have as a general merchandiser because their duties may require them to complete tasks around different parts of the store frequently. A significant part of their time at work is physically moving and arranging products on the sales floor and organizing the stockroom. General merchandisers also spend a lot of time on the sales floor on their feet putting up various signage or displays to promote products.

Customer service

General merchandisers may encounter customers that require their help while they're working throughout the store. Customers may ask questions about new products or ask for advice about what the merchandiser recommends they purchase. Quality customer service is an important skill to have when selling a product because it can enhance the customer's retail experience. As a general merchandiser's role directly relates to working with products, they're experts in answering any questions or concerns a customer has related to the products a store offers.

  • Related: Customer Service Skills: Definition and Examples

  • Related: Retail Skills: Definition, Examples, and How To Improve

Where can you work as a general merchandiser?

There are many different kinds of environments you can work in as a general merchandiser. Depending on the size of the company, you could either work alone or with a team of retailers. In a team of retailers, general merchandisers can work with salespeople, cashiers, stockers, and other managers. They're responsible for training these positions on how to promote and sell products, change the layout of the store, and keep the shelves restocked.

General merchandisers may also work remotely, managing the online store of the company. While the duties of this general merchandiser are similar to those working in a physical store, they may also take on additional responsibilities to translate their work online. This requires an additional set of skills such as the knowledge of how to optimize their products online, how to use market keywords to improve sales and website traffic, and how to organize product photoshoots, which requires more technical knowledge than an in-store general merchandiser.

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