Merchandising Assistant Job Description
Merchandising assistants support their employer’s merchandising efforts. Companies want to increase their profits by enticing customers to buy products. The merchandising department comes up with ways to position items so that they are noticeable and appealing. Merchandising assistants contribute ideas and execute plans as needed. For instance, the merchandising team may decide to arrange cans of soda in the shape of a large Christmas tree to highlight buying the beverage during the holiday season. Or they may move petite clothing to a lower rack so that shorter customers will have an easier time browsing apparel in their size. Selling socks next to the checkout counter in the shoe department can encourage grabbing a pair to go along with a new footwear purchase.
Merchandising assistants typically work full-time in an office environment for brick-and-mortar establishments, though they are increasingly being hired for online merchandising. Merchandising assistants also may spend time out on the sales floor checking on displays or getting a feel for the overall effectiveness of merchandise positioning.
Merchandising Assistant Duties and Responsibilities
The key term to this job title is “assist.” The core of a merchandising assistant’s job is helping the team in whatever capacity is needed as they go about motivating patrons to spend money. From our analysis of job postings, such duties frequently include the following:
Merchandising assistants get called upon to perform tasks that keep the merchandising department operating smoothly, mainly through instructions given by the merchandising manager. Actions may be as simple as sorting mail or as complex as performing research on what products and pricing competitors are offering. They may fulfill requests from other departments or from people outside of the company, such as gathering and delivering diagrams of displays. When new assistants, seasonal workers, or interns come aboard, the merchandising assistant often is the one to get them up to speed.
Merchandising assistants keep tabs on information coming in from all directions and enter it into computer systems for reference. They may track inventory, monitor shipments, note pricing, spell out vendor terms, file artwork, process invoices, and handle purchase orders.
How did a certain display affect sales? What effect did moving an item to a different location have on customer interest? Merchandising assistants assemble data on such questions, look for patterns, and write reports or create electronic presentations on their findings. This information helps the company gauge the effectiveness of its efforts and provides a basis for future decisions.
Merchandising Assistant Skills
Successful merchandising assistants tend to be highly organized and good at following directions. Other qualities that hiring managers love to see on résumés for merchandising assistant positions include:
- Managing time well in order to complete a variety of tasks
- Attending to detail to ensure the effectiveness of displays
- Solving problems when unforeseen circumstances arise
- Knowing (or being willing to learn) about best practices in the industry, such as featuring new arrivals in the front window of the store as a way to lure in shoppers
- Exhibiting creativity and a “good eye” for visual presentation
Merchandising Assistant Tools of the trade
Aspiring merchandising assistants would benefit from familiarity with the following:
- Displays – merchandise positioned in a thought-out way so that it gets noticed by shoppers
- Inventory – stock on hand
- Planograms – diagrams showing the specific look and location of products within a store to increase customer purchases
- Visual merchandising software – tech tools, such as Spaceman Professional, that allow for clearer, more efficient planning of how to use retail space
- Computers – used for inputting and up-keeping data, email correspondence, writing reports
- Spreadsheets – documents, often created using Microsoft Excel, that detail sales figures in an easy-to-read format
Merchandising Assistant Education and Training
Most merchandising assistants hold an associate’s degree or higher in a field such as business, marketing, design, or merchandising. Employers also like to see evidence of experience working in a retail setting.
Merchandising Assistant Resources
To learn more about the merchandising industry and its career opportunities, we’ve compiled this list:
Merchandising: Theories, Principles and Practice – The third edition of this textbook includes a variety of case studies that can help aspiring merchandising assistants learn more about what goes on in actual workplaces.
Mathematics for Retail Buying – Profits, inventory, cost per item, deals … merchandising involves a variety of numerical concepts. This book provides a solid introduction to the types of math skills a merchandising assistant might need to master for career advancement.
Visual Merchandising: Windows and In-Store Displays for Retail – This user-friendly reference covers all aspects of creating effective displays. It includes full-color photos, informative diagrams, and hints from merchandising experts.
Merchandising and Planning Professionals – Still have questions about a career as a merchandising assistant? This LinkedIn group of more than 49,000 members may be the place to find answers.
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