As a merchandise manager, you're responsible for the buying, movement and display of items in a store. If you become a corporate merchandise manager, you'll determine the product mix, along with when and where to buy these goods. If you decide to pursue a similar position at the store level, you'll oversee stock and inventory. You will also be in charge of a merchandising staff that handles everyday duties such as re-stocking shelves and keeping displays tidy. If you go into merchandise management, you will have a hand in nearly everything customers can touch and see within a store.
Your job as a corporate merchandise manager will be to analyze the demographics in your geographic area, adjusting stock levels and item availability. This data is based on statistics such as income, average age and sell-through data supplied by vendors. Nearly everything people buy goes into a database of some sort. As a merchandise manager, you'll work with marketing personnel to best present these items, introducing them at the right times and at different levels of prominence. You'll undoubtedly oversee opinion panels, with members representing the demographics of a store location to indicate their preferences. Many of your purchasing decisions will be based on your observations.
If you become a purchaser or buyer, one of your jobs will be to find the right vendors for commonly stocked items. It's important to identify and work with the vendors that can provide the best price for your store's products, and that have a track record of reliability. You'll spend significant time examining seasonal data gathered at the store level, timing your buys accordingly. Purchasing the right items in the right amounts helps to keep company costs down while ensuring your customers find what they want.
In your role as a merchandise manager, expect to work with the finance department to forecast the availability cost of raw materials that go into the products your company sells. For example, if your team works for a grocer and you determine the price of corn is expected to drop slightly over the coming year, you may want to enter into a contract that locks in that price at the beginning of the year. This comes with some risk, since forecasts aren't guarantees.
Attractive displays and a logical store layout help to sell in a retail store. One of your duties as a corporate merchandise manager will be to set store plans, commonly known as "planograms." These plans dictate a common layout among each store in a franchise, ensuring the right items are displayed in a uniform manner. You may also work as a manager of a store-level visual merchandise team, leading your people in executing these plans. Your role in the store will also be to ensure these displays remain correctly itemized, clean and functional.
David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.