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What Is The Role Of A Retail Merchandiser?

The role of the Retail Merchandiser is a crucial one within the Fashion Head Office team - their decisions can seriously maximise (or seriously damage!) overall brand profitability and reputation. The Merchandiser’s influential decision-making can make or break the seasonal buy – they have to ensure that the buy includes the right quantities of stock, in the right styles and that they arrive within the right time frames - for example a late delivery of Christmas sweaters can create a huge dent in Christmas trading figures and the massive issue of surplus stock!

A good Retail Merchandiser is worth his or her weight in gold. And this is why - a great amount of skill is required; historical buying trends are analysed, year on year trends and even geography is taken into account – what’s selling well in London can be a completely different story in Newcastle. So many different factors to take into consideration while you’re doing the maths.

"The Mathematical Whiz Kid of Head Office"

A head for numbers, analytical ability, an aptitude for forecasting, an intuitive and inquisitive mind, problem solving skills, commerciality, strong IT knowledge – these are all key competencies when it comes to the make up of a Retail Merchandiser.

Your educational path doesn’t necessarily have to be fashion related if you’re looking to enter the industry as a head office Retail Merchandiser for Fashion - although there are specific degree courses geared towards Fashion Buying & Merchandising. Manchester is just one university that runs this course and The London College of Fashion runs short courses as well as degree standard.

If you lean more towards the creative side of fashion then Retail Merchandising probably isn’t for you (but there are more product based options within merchandising which we’ll talk about at a later date). Given that 99.9% of your time is spent analysing data to the infinite detail and calculating figures you’ll find this is your dream role if number crunching is your forte.

Business related degree’s work well in this domain but it’s by no way set in stone.

Many of the large fashion retailers across the UK offer graduate intake schemes annually – details can be found on their websites. This is a fantastic way of fast tracking your career if successful as you’ll be placed at the heart of a merchandising function from day one, plus you’ll be assigned a mentor.

There are other alternative routes into merchandising – you can apply for roles at Merch Admin or Junior Allocator level to get on the first rung of the ladder. Learn your trade well and you can then expect to develop into Assistant Merchandiser, Junior Merchandiser and then onto a fully-fledged Merchandising roles (and beyond) as you progress.

In return for your hard work and invaluable business acumen, the rewards can lucrative for an experienced Retail Merchandiser – as I said earlier, you’re worth your weight in gold to a business due to the impact you make on profit.

A guideline of what you can expect in terms of salary when it comes to retail merchandiser roles; -

Allocator / Merchandise Admin / Merchandise Assistant: £16,000 to £20,000

Assistant Merchandiser: £20,000 to £30,000

Junior Merchandiser: £28,000 to £35,000

Merchandiser: £32,000 to £40,000

Merchandise Manager: £35,000 to £60,000 +

Head of Merchandising: £70,000 +++

*Dependant on business size and geographical location

If Merchandising appeals to you, please get in touch - you can view all of our live opportunities at or contact us directly for further advice at

Kerry's article was first published via The Fashion Network

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