When customers shop in a store or website, they don’t buy just a product, but the entire shopping experience. That’s exactly why merchandising is important in today’s context. Merchandisers usually work in the retail stores and shopping malls to help maximize sales by displaying the right products in the right place at the right time. They decide which products to buy and how to display them to draw maximum attention of target customers.
India, being one of the world’s fastest growing retail markets, holds a lot of promise for aspiring merchandisers. India’s retail market is expected to surpass the $1-trillion mark by 2020, growing at an annual rate of 12 percent, says a collaborative report prepared by the Boston Consulting Group and Retailers Association of India.
Despite the retail boom, however, the job market for merchandisers is still in its infancy, but holds significant growth potential in the coming years. Perhaps, there wouldn’t be a better time to start preparing for a career in merchandising! If you are eager to seize this opportunity, start right away by knowing a few things about the nitty-gritty of this profession.
Job DescriptionMerchandisers are mainly responsible for displaying products in a retail store in the best possible way to increase sales. Their job involves planning and executing promotional campaigns, deciding what products needs to be displayed – how, when and at what quantity. As a merchandiser, you may need to design the store window, using props, lights and mannequins and display the products aesthetically - maybe based on a given theme or concept. Your job may include
Analyzing previous years’ sales figures and recent market trendsDeciding what products to feature in the store, based on the analysisCommunicating with customers and analystsCreating a comprehensive merchandise planIdentifying the best time or season to display a certain productWorking closely with the design team to decide how to display the chosen productsNegotiating with suppliers and distributorsMaking sales projectionsPlanning and implementing advertising campaignsIdentifying slow moving products and deciding how they should be displayed to increase salesKeeping track of the performance of competitor storesTraining and supervising juniors
Entry RequirementsYou can enter into this profession after graduation in any discipline, but most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in related subjects, such as, business management, retail management, marketing and fashion communication. If you are planning a career in visual merchandising, consider doing a course from acclaimed design institutes, such as, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), and National Institute of Design (NID). They don’t offer any exclusive course for visual merchandising, but the four-year program in fashion communication covers all important chapters of visual merchandising.
Skills RequiredYou need a combination of formal education, skills and natural talent to perform the wide-ranging duties of a merchandiser. While having good understanding of marketing concepts and knowledge of products and market trends, a merchandiser should also be creative with an eye for good design and a sense of lighting, color and theme. To excel in this career, you should have the following skills and qualities.
Excellent analytical skills and good accounting or math skills – You need to analyze sales figures and market trends to identify potential opportunities and risks.Problem solving skills and ability to work under pressure – You may need to plan and execute advertising campaigns in a short turnaround time.Communication skills – You need to communicate with suppliers, distributors, buyers and your juniors.Excellent decision making skills and design skills – You should be able to decide what product to display and how to design the store window to attract more eyeballs.
Career Opportunity and SalaryWith the number of shopping malls and retail outlets increasing, job prospect for merchandisers is looking bright in India. Most of the jobs are available in malls and retail stores, but you can also find opportunities in five-star hotels, design companies, event management firms and fashion boutiques. Pantaloons Fashion & Retail Limited, Shoppers Stop, Tanishq, Fab India, and Provogue India are among the leading companies that hire merchandisers in various positions, such as, visual merchandiser, senior merchandiser and merchandising manager. Salary offered in entry-level jobs is anywhere between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh. After five years of experience, you can expect around Rs 6 lakh per year; and your salary after 10 years of experience could be Rs 15-20 lakh per annum.
If you have interest in business management with a background in mathematics or economics, plus good design and color sense; merchandising could be a promising career option for you.