The range of products Urban Outfitters has to offer often astounds me. They sell everything from neon clothing, to cookbooks, to toys, to hipstery apartment wares for young women and men. Not only that, but many of these items are made by independent designers, which means there’s a lot of coordination involved. All of these products have been scrutinized by the people responsible for the merchandising of the store. One of these roles is that of Merchandising Assistant, who assists with basic aspects of orders and shipments.
Merchandising Career Guide Overview
- What a Merchandising Assistant Does
- A Typical Day for a Merchandising Assistant
- Salary and Career Progression for a Merchandising Assistant
- Best Locations for Merchandising Assistants
- Pros and Cons of Being a Merchandising Assistant
- What You Need to Know for a Career in Merchandising
- Merchandising Resources
- Careers Related to Merchandising
- Companies with Jobs and Internships in Merchandising
What a Merchandising Assistant Does
A Merchandising Assistant helps with basic aspects of retailing and selection of merchandise. They may be in charge of orders and shipments, supervising sales personnel, keeping records, obtaining samples and materials, and dealing with customers who are returning or exchanging merchandise. Merchandisers work closely with each store, deciding what items to send them. They also work closely with buyers, so that when they do sales forecasts they can let the buyers know what items will be needed and when. Lastly they work closely with the finance department at sales time to let them know what items to reduce and at what discount.
A Typical Day for a Merchandising Assistant
While a typical day for a Merchandising Assistant varies, it generally includes these tasks:
- Analyzing sales
- Visiting stores to see how much space they have
- Handling research
- Orchestrating fashion events
- Fielding phone calls and email correspondence
- Coordinating travel
- Managing production
- Tracking inventory
- Assisting with product design and pattern management
- Shipping out products
- Tracking payments
Salary and Career Progression for a Merchandising Assistant
A Merchandising Assistant makes an average of $35,000 per year. After being a Merchandising Assistant, you can go on to become a Junior Merchandiser where you are responsible for planning and strategy and potentially even managing a small team, and then on to Merchandiser where you are the overall manager of the team. You might even branch off into buying. As a Fashion Buyer, you can expect to make about $72,000 per year. Or you could specialize in a particular area such as a Handbag Buyer, and earn around $83,000 per year.
Best Locations for Merchandising Assistants
If you want to be in fashion, New York and Los Angeles are the places to be. Merchandising Assistants who work within the garment manufacturing trade often live in or commute to one of these two fashion hubs.
Pros and Cons of Being a Merchandising Assistant
- A generous salary and growth opportunities
- The excitement of day-to-day immersion in the realm of fashion
- Constant variety–reacting to how your department is performing on a day to day basis and hopefully seeing sales increase as a result
- Stressful–there is a day-to-day crisis mode the trade regularly operates under
- Can be a lot of repetitive boring tasks
What You Need to Know for a Career in Merchandising
To be a Merchandising Assistant you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in either apparel development, apparel manufacturing, or apparel product management. Hopefully your core classes will cover manufacturing and production, fashion design and textile sciences. Beyond that it helps to know Spanish, be organized, and have an ability to analyze data. Furthermore, you should have an awareness of retail and try to get some experience on a shop floor.
If merchandising still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started.
Key Folks to Follow on Twitter
Blogs and Websites
Careers Related to Merchandising
Companies with Entry Level Jobs and Internships in Merchandising
Check out the latest job and internship postings in merchandising.