Job Descriptions for Retail Merchandising

by Michele Garabedian Stork

People who work in retail merchandising persuade consumers to purchase a company's products or services. Retail merchandising is one of the largest employment industries in the United States. About one in five U.S. workers is employed by retailers, according to McGraw-Hill's "Introduction to the World of Retailing." Changes in the retail industry provide many job opportunities for college graduates interested in the fast-paced, profitable field of retail merchandising.

Buying and Purchasing

Careers in retail merchandising commonly begin with retail buying and purchasing. A buyer or purchaser evaluates the supplier for reliability, negotiates the best price, and evaluates the quality of the goods or services. Most retail buyers and purchasers work more than 40 hours per week. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), buyer and purchasing jobs are expected to increase 7 percent through 2020, with an average median annual salary of over $58,000.

Store Management

Store management jobs in retail merchandising commonly begin with assistant or trainee positions. Store management jobs are more people-oriented than buying and purchasing. Store managers must lead and motivate employees, meet customer needs, and ensure merchandise is available and attractively displayed. Store managers must be organized and have good communication skills. According to the BLS, the average salary for a retail store manager in 2011 was $40,630 per year. Store managers with several locations can move up to become district or regional managers.

Corporate Jobs

Most corporate jobs in retail merchandising require you have experience as a buyer, purchaser or store manager as well as in the specific area of expertise. These can include management information systems, marketing and real estate. Management information jobs involve the computer systems for purchasing goods or services and managing inventory. Marketing jobs involve public relations, visual merchandising or advertising. Corporate real estate involves selecting locations for stores and negotiating leases and land purchases.

Job Outlook

In recent years, retailers have begun to sell products through several channels, including a traditional store, catalog, direct mail, online venue, or a social networking site such as Twitter, Facebook or Craigslist. The National Retail Federation predicts a retail sales growth of 3.4 percent in 2013, while the digital division expects online retail sales to grow up to 12 percent. Schools offering retail merchandising majors suggest students supplement their programs with marketing, advertising or communications classes to meet the growing demand for online retail merchandising.

About the Author

Michele Garabedian Stork oversees an award-winning website and serves as the editor of several monthly e-newsletters. She is an adjunct faculty member at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she earned a Master of Education. Garabedian Stork also holds an Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Science in business studies.

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