How to Become a Merchandiser

Outgoing, analytical, and good at problem-solving? A career in merchandising might just be your calling.

In the busy world of retail, where products change with the seasons and customer trends evolve, merchandisers play a major role in shaping the shopping experience. They are the analysts and planners behind eye-catching displays, quantifying how much product hit the shelves, and the strategists who drive sales and profitability.

But how exactly do you become a merchandiser? You might be wondering. 

In this guide, we'll take you through the tips, experience, and skills you need to carve out a successful career in merchandising. And to fast-track the process? Our Buying & Merchandising Courses are packed with the training and practical skills you’ll need to get ahead.

So, whether you're a recent graduate, a career changer, or someone already in the retail industry looking to level up, let’s get started.

What Does a Merchandiser Do?

Merchandising is evidently thriving - especially in retail, the highest-paying industry for merchandising managers, according to the job search site Zippia. 

As a division, Buying and Merchandising is the backbone of any successful retail organization. It is responsible for the retailer’s prime asset, the merchandise it sells. That makes merchandising a highly desirable career avenue for many.

But what does a merchandiser actually do? 

Well, in the simplest sense, a merchandiser is responsible for understanding consumer behavior and ensuring that the shelves in a retail store (or online) are stocked and displayed effectively to meet demand. This means their day-to-day comprises a vast range of duties to deliver the best possible strategy to keep business booming.

Typical Tasks

These include:

  • Doing the mathematical analysis of past performance to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Making sure that store inventory is regularly and suitably replenished
  • Analyzing product demand to see whether the right stock is being sourced
  • Coming up with creative methods for clearing less popular items and leveraging seasonal trends (for example, strategizing ways to divert traffic gained from the more successful promotional campaigns over to the less popular products, or using other methods like marketplaces to turn harder-to-move goods into cash)                                


Key Responsibilities

Holding a retail merchandiser position means you’ll be responsible for:


How to Become a Merchandiser with No Experience

What if you seek a merchandiser role but have little (if any) relevant experience? Could you shift into merchandising from another career field? 

The simple answer is yes. And, even better - though all merchandising jobs require good arithmetic skills, a degree could certainly help, but it’s not essential. In fact, many of the learners we train in our buying & merchandising course have paved incredibly lucrative careers for themselves through experience rather than pursuing a degree.

So, looking to become a merchandiser? Here are some typical avenues that you could take.

Climb Up from a Junior Position


If you’re a keen learner, even an entry-level job in retail can help position you for a high-paying merchandising job. This is because most merchandising roles require at least a couple of years of retail graft so that you can get familiar with how the typical store operates (both front and behind the scenes) and the basics of inventory management.

One common starting point is working as a clerk and then progressing to merchandise assistant. This will give you the relevant foundational knowledge to then progress to an assistant merchandiser role. 

Get Promoted from a Retail Store


Promotion is, of course, another common route to becoming a merchandiser. Whether you’re in a junior merchandising position or another retail role entirely, applying yourself and being proactive with retail training will give you the skills to climb to a higher rank.

At Martec, our Buying & Merchandising Career Path gives learners a clear map of the promotional routes within a typical retail structure.

Transfer from a Buying to a Merchandising Role


Ultimately, people enter the merchandising field through many different avenues. If you’ve trained as a buyer but find that you’re more suited (or simply more interested) in a more numerate-minded discipline, then perhaps a transition to a merchandising role would be a better fit.

The good news is that switching between these two roles is a very fluid process as both roles support each other. Therefore, it’s possible to, say, become a junior merchandiser after working as a buyer’s clerk or a junior buyer. 

Using the above career path, trace the dotted lines to see at which point you’d most easily make the transition from a buyer to a merchandiser.

What a Typical Career in Merchandising Looks Like

Your merchandising career could start relatively early - since the only educational requirement you would strictly need would be a high school diploma or equivalent. 

However, there are some other steps that you’ll need to do to progress from a standard entry-level position to a more advanced merchandising role.

Gaining the Relevant Experience


When it comes to pursuing a career in merchandising, experience is invaluable. Obtaining an associate’s degree in a retail-related area can enhance your appeal to employers but putting in time at a retail store and keeping on top of training is also a common route. 

Roles like sales associate or inventory clerk can help you understand the inner workings of a retail environment and develop the essential skills you’ll need.

Deciding Which Merchandising Role Suits You


The world of retail is broad, as is the scale of the merchandising roles you could take. Merchandisers can work:

  • In retail stores 
  • As a representative of a product vendor 

Fortunately, your current role may land you into just the ‘right’ merchandising job - or your supervisor could know of such a vacancy and recommend you for it. 

Nailing the Interview



As the interviewer will likely be keen to assess both your hard and soft skills, it would be wise for you to:

  • Prepare by practicing answers to common interview questions 
  • Ask the interviewer questions, too
  • Demonstrate problem-solving skills
  • Discuss your arithmetic and organizational experience (providing specific examples)
  • Be prepared to discuss current industry trends
  • Follow up with the company later down the line

Starting Your Merchandising Career

Once you have secured your first merchandiser role, ask yourself what you would like to achieve with it. You could ask work colleagues and supervisors for feedback - and, in the process, foster healthy work relationships. 

At Martec, we offer a Buying & Merchandising Learning Path for those in more senior positions -such as consultants - looking to deepen their industry knowledge. 

Not yet there? Our Retail Induction Learning Path will get you to grips quickly with the foundational level of knowledge you’ll need to start out.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Merchandiser?

Many factors may influence the length of time it takes to become a successful merchandiser - such as what type of store(s) you have worked in and for how long.

Tip 1:
Study for an undergraduate degree: Doing so while applying for relevant internships can enrich you in both academic and vocational respects.

Tip 2:
Take an e-learning course: We run retail buying and merchandising courses to give learners deeper industry insights from anywhere in the world.

Tip 3:
Seek work in more dynamic or challenging stores: Landing this work could give you the kind of broad experience valued by employers.

Looking to Become a Merchandiser? You’re Already in the Right Place

At Martec, our online courses are designed to meet a wide range of retail needs, and they come with a budget-friendly price tag. No matter where you are in your merchandising journey, we’re here to help you find the right course or curriculum that is as enjoyable to learn as it will be beneficial to employ. 

Get in touch today to join thousands of learners worldwide.