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How Do I Become a Merchandise Manager?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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A common find in most retail stores, a merchandise manager is primarily in charge of sales and ordering for a store; he or she also may manage the store's staff. Those who become a merchandise manager typically have a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field. In addition, a person who wants to work as a merchandise manager must have personal skills related to organization and leadership. He or she must know how to use database, word processing and product ordering programs — or an ability to learn them. The merchandise manager also must be able to work with product prices to ensure the business makes sales without losing a profit.

When someone applies to become a merchandise manager, one of the primary requirements is a bachelor’s degree. The most common is a business degree, but marketing and economics degrees also can work. Some businesses are not as picky and will accept applicants who have a degree in any field as long as it is a bachelor's degree. Other companies will hire applicants without a degree as long as they have managerial or assistant managerial experience. Most commonly, though, a degree will be required.

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There are personal skills required of anyone who wants to become a merchandise manager, the two most common being organization and leadership. Organization is required because the manager needs to ensure that all products are ordered on time and that the store is making sales. The merchandise manager also must be organized so he or she can coordinate with nearby stores of the same chain, so all the stores can hit their sales goals. The merchandise manager will be working with employees, so the applicant also should have leadership abilities.

The technical skills required to become a merchandise manager are limited. Commonly, the applicant just has to be knowledgeable in word processing and database programs, and must be able to learn new programs quickly. It is recommended that the applicant know how to work a product-ordering program, but this is typically taught on the job.

One of the most important functions of a merchandise manager is to work with product prices to ensure the store makes a profit. The manager must know the price offered by the competition, so he or she can set prices at a similar level. At the same time, the merchandise manager must realize when a price is too low; otherwise, the store can lose vast amounts of money.

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comfyshoes
Post 2

@Cupcake15 - That is so true. The buying office generally buys merchandise for the entire company and sometimes an individual store might receive merchandise that the merchandise manager knows will not sell in their locale.

For example, earlier in my career when I was fresh out of college I became a merchandise manager for a moderate sportswear and accessories department. Although my company was based in Hayward, California, I received merchandise that did not make sense for Miami,Florida. For example, I used to get shipments of fleece clothing. Yes fleece clothing in Miami where the average year round temperature was 80 degrees!

I called the buying office and tried to get them to take this merchandise back and return

it to the vendor so that it would free us up to get merchandise that we actually had a chance at selling. The buying office just told us to mark down the merchandise and even after the merchandise was marked down to 75% off it still didn’t move.

I believe that a merchandise manager has to be on their toes and know what sells in their department and what doesn’t Many that do a great job go on to become an Associate Buyer working in the buying office under the Buyer of the department and eventually become Buyers for the company after they have developed a track record of success.

cupcake15
Post 1

I just want to say that many merchandise managers have been promoted to their positions internally without having a Bachelor’s degree. I was a merchandise manager of the shoes and women’s sportswear department of a large department store and many of my colleagues did not go to college.

Some had been with the company for years and were promoted based on the quality of work. I think one of the best qualities of a merchandise manager is to be detail oriented and be able to not only have all of the current styles on display, but you also have to the background information regarding the merchandise.

For example, you needed to always know which your best sellers

are and what your merchandise turn was. This meant what was the average amount of weeks that a product or type of merchandise stayed on the sales floor before it was sold.

In addition, you had to make sure that the markdowns were taken at the right time because a missed markdown essentially meant that a customer is unaware of the reduced price and probably won’t buy the garment as a result. A merchandise manager also has to communicate with the buying office to make sure that the buying office is aware of the trends of this specific store. It is a lot of work, but it can be a fun job.

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