What Is a Merchandiser? Description, Skills, and A Day in the Life

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 21, 2021

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.

If you're looking for a fast-paced, challenging position that is different every day, then a merchandiser position may be what you're seeking. Merchandisers require creativity, organization, and numeracy skills. In this article, we discuss a merchandiser's job description, career requirements, average salary, outlook, and work environment.

What is a merchandiser?

A merchandiser is employed by a supplier, manufacturer, or retail company to ensure that a store's inventory is well stocked and maintained. They handle the visual displays of the merchandise and often work with a company's purchasing department to ensure proper inventory levels are available. They also help predict upcoming product sales and trends and find creative ways to promote certain products. A merchandiser also finds the best product placement for the highest sales in a retail location.

What kinds of companies employ merchandisers?

A manufacturing or supplier company that is launching a new product or changing its product offerings may hire temporary or seasonal merchandisers to travel to various stores and arrange the company's product. A merchandiser goes into a store and reorganizes the manufacturer's products, removes old or dated products, and puts out new stock. They may rearrange an entire section for better product placement of high-selling items at eye level.

A company with retail locations may hire permanent merchandisers to change mannequin displays, advertise in-store events, and manage the product displays for customer appreciation days. Grocery stores hire merchandisers to stock produce, bakery goods, and other products daily to ensure shelves and displays are fully stocked. Large department stores hire merchandisers to decorate window displays, change seasonal signage throughout the location, and create in-store displays for special events and sales.

What does a merchandiser do?

A merchandiser has several responsibilities within their daily workload, including:

  • Collaborating with suppliers, manufacturers, and stores to ensure proper execution of product plans, also called planograms

  • Meeting with vendors, suppliers, or purchasing departments to discuss purchasing of inventory

  • Analyzing previous sales history to predict future sales and demand

  • Analyzing sales figures to report growth, expansion, and changes in the marker

  • Creating and organizing product promotions and sales campaigns

  • Gather and communicate customer feedback to suppliers, manufacturers, or store management

  • Managing and updating product inventory

  • Managing product knowledge and educational materials for employee training

  • Arranging visual displays of inventory to attract customer attention and improve sales

  • Maintaining of inventory and stocking shelves, including rotating stock and proper signage

What's A Day in the Life of a merchandiser like?

Suppose you are a merchandiser for a large retail store. Your day begins by logging in at work and checking your email to see what promotions or price changes need to happen today. You review the list of items coming into the shop today and plan how you can move some displays around to accommodate the new products. You meet with the store manager and supervisors to see if there are any specific areas that you need to focus on.

Then you head out onto the sales floor. You stock several advertising displays that sold products from the day before. You make sure that the prices in one department are all correct. You complete a small cycle count of high-moving items to ensure that the computer inventory matches what's available. By now, it's already lunch, so you take a well-deserved break.

After lunch, you come back and put the finishing touches on a few new displays, paying extra attention to the small details that create visual impact. You have a meeting in the afternoon with the purchasing team to discuss new seasonal products arriving soon. You then meet with a vendor to discuss a new planogram requirement for their items. By then, the day is coming to an end. Tomorrow will have an entirely new set of tasks, responsibilities, and challenges.

Career requirements for a merchandiser

There are several requirements that employers look for when hiring a merchandiser. Here are the areas of education, work experience, and specific skills:

Education

Most merchandisers jobs require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Many employers, however, look for more advanced academic training, such as a diploma in visual merchandising, interior design, or retail management. If the merchandising position is for a supplier or manufacturer, you need a valid driver's license to travel between stores.

Work experience

Many merchandiser positions require one to two years of experience in merchandising, stocking, or retail sales. Working within a retail setting can provide you with an opportunity to move into a merchandiser role by expressing interest and volunteering to help with displays and stocking shelves.

Skills

A proficient merchandiser requires several critical skills to be successful. Below we have detailed five necessary skills that employers look for when hiring a merchandiser:

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is a critical skill when merchandising, as there are many variables throughout the workday that cannot be overlooked. A merchandiser must be aware of inventory levels, and if stock becomes too low, they need to make management or purchasing aware of the low supply. Product signage and sale signs are the responsibility of a merchandiser, so they must be mindful of sales and event dates and changes signs at the right time to not affect customer sales. An impactful visual display requires acute attention to detail. To significantly impact customers, every button and element of a brand new outfit on display needs to be adjusted and complete.

Inventory management

Inventory management is a critical part of merchandising, so a competent merchandiser needs to be aware of stock levels, inventory discrepancies, and popular items. If a store has large amounts of stock on a slow-moving item, a merchandiser will inform management and either put it on sale or advertise it with a product display or extra signage. A merchandiser handles the shelf life of products, such as best before or expiration dates, and rotates perishable items by putting the oldest at the front to sell first, reducing inventory write-offs.

They take part in annual inventory or cycle counting, which are smaller inventories of a specific product, section, or department completed continuously throughout the year to catch inventory mistakes. They typically organize and maintain the stockroom or location where overstock remains.

Communication skills

Because a merchandiser is mainly on the sales floor, they must have practical communication skills to speak with customers and colleagues. Reading English or French, depending on the province, is essential to understanding sales promotion directives, planogram schematics, and other written merchandising instructions. Similarly, writing in English or French is also an asset, as a merchandiser creates signs, stickers, and advertisements for products.

They need a strong understanding of numeracy, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and percentages. They need practical verbal skills to communicate with others, provide direction and guidance, answer questions, and respond to customer's requests.

Problem-solving

A merchandiser must work independently and problem-solve throughout their day. Many challenges within a merchandiser's day may come up, such as a popular item on sale being sold out, no physical room for a new product shipment, or too much inventory of a soon-expiring product. Thinking critically, analyzing a situation, and developing a solution support a merchandiser's problem-solving skills. Companies seek candidates who can and are willing to problem-solve on their own to be valuable and resourceful members of the team.

Visual creativity

A merchandiser needs to have visual creativity to create product or event displays that are visually appealing. In conjunction with attention to detail, visual creativity provides the special touches that draw attention to displays, such as signage, product arrangement, and theme elements to enhance the overall visual aspects. Having an eye for visual, interior, graphic, or fashion design significantly benefit someone working as a merchandiser.

Merchandiser's average salary and job outlook

A merchandiser may work full-time or part-time hours, depending on the company and position. They're typically paid an hourly wage, or work in salaried positions. According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for merchandisers in Canada is $78,084 per year. The average hourly rate is $16.46 per hour and depends on factors like experience, education, location, and company.

Due to the constant need for retail services across the country, the outlook for merchandiser positions is healthy. According to Statistics Canada, the overall outlook of retail sales is on the increase. Because merchandisers are found throughout the retail sector, there are many positions available for candidates who have experience, training, and essential skills for the job.

Merchandiser's work environment

A merchandiser must be willing to work in a variety of environments. Many retail shops and stores employ merchandisers, from grocery stores and bakeries to clothing and hardware stores. The work environment can also include warehouses or storage rooms that took inventory before it goes out onto the sales floor for the public. There are several physical components of a merchandiser's job, including standing, walking, bending, crouching, and lifting.

Explore more articles