Merchandise Manager: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Merchandise managers pick out the products that will be sold in a store and oversee their marketing and purchase. Employers usually require applicants to have some formal education or retail experience. For aspiring merchandise managers interested in earning a degree, many schools offer degree programs in retail and merchandise management.

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Job Description for a Merchandise Manager

Merchandise managers coordinate and communicate with company buyers on what items to purchase for a store's inventory. While some merchandise managers make purchases for an entire store, others are responsible for a specific area, such as menswear or shoes. They also work closely with the store's marketing team to ensure that products are given effective promotional attention.

Merchandise managers set various sales goals and then work with regional and division managers and other employees to ensure that those goals are met. Managers aim to satisfy their customers' needs while providing a positive work environment for their employees.

Merchandise Management Duties

Merchandise managers' responsibilities often vary by the size and location of their stores. Some merchandise managers make purchases for one store, while others are responsible for procuring inventory for a regional grouping, or even an entire chain, of stores. They keep up with competitors' products and prices, set promotional goals, train distribution staff, and develop relationships with the marketing team.

Merchandise managers must be able to multi-task and function in fast-paced working environments. They oversee a staff of buyers, which involves hiring and firing duties, as well as training new employees. Strong leadership, communication, and negotiating skills are beneficial for this position.

Education Requirements for Merchandise Managers

While some jobs in merchandise management can be obtained without a college education, most employers prefer applicants who hold a college degree or have related experience. Many schools offer programs in retail management, marketing, merchandising, and sales. An Associate of Science in Merchandising Management or a Bachelor of Science in Apparel Merchandising are two applicable options. Core courses for these majors might include:

  • Basic merchandising
  • Retailing and management principles
  • Fashion coordination and promotion
  • Visual and specialty merchandising
  • Retail buying

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of purchasing managers, including merchandise managers, is expected to grow by only two percent between 2012 and 2022, which is considerably slower than the average for all occupations. The BLS also reported the median annual salary earned by such managers as $103,780 in May 20123

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