Retail merchandising analysts help maximize the profit potential for a retail store or chain. They improve cash flow and increase profit margins by analyzing inventory risks and opportunities and implementing inventory allocation strategies.
Depending on the size of the retail chain, merchandising analysts are sometimes also tasked with responsibility for supply chain management, but the largest U.S. retail chains separate the two positions. This allows each to focus on specific aspects of the flow of merchandise in and out of the retail stores.
Retail merchandising analysts almost always work at the headquarters of a retail company where interfacing with the marketing and finance departments, as well as buyers and senior leaders, is easiest.
Merchandising Analyst Duties & Responsibilities
The scope of a merchandising analyst's responsibilities can depend on the requirements of the employer, but some common duties include:
- Monitor store category sales
- Supervise physical inventory
- Identify trends in sales
- Monitoring the timing and scope of seasonal changes
- Maintain desired inventory levels and assortments
- Schedule deliveries and oversee shipping, receiving and warehousing of merchandise
- Develop supply strategies that will minimize stockouts while maximizing inventory turns.
- Provide guidance about selling patterns, the timing of future purchases, and purchasing philosophies
Merchandising analysts work closely with category managers in retail chains that are large enough to employ them both. They're responsible for keeping a big picture view of trends for the entire chain, and for the flow of merchandise both in and out of the retail supply chain.
Merchandising Analyst Salary
The size and sales volume of a retail operation is a key factor in determining compensation for its merchandising analyst, but merchandising and market analysts in general earn the following:
- Median Annual Salary: $63,120 ($30.35/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $121,080 ($58.21/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $34,310 ($16.50/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
A successful merchandising analyst will often be given senior advisory functions and receive additional compensation that corresponds with the added responsibilities. The position usually comes with a full benefits package, which often includes merchandise discounts.
Education, Training & Certification
Those looking for a career as a merchandising analyst should ideally have a college degree and some considerable experience.
- Education: A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or economics is preferred. A master’s degree is a plus and can be a prerequisite depending on the size and scope of the retail operation.
- Experience: Other degrees or even no degree at all are sometimes acceptable with the right combination of retail, buying, and allocation experience. A blend of merchandising and data analysis experience are desirable. Significant analytical experience and computer proficiency with programs like MS Excel and/or Access are essential.
Merchandising Analyst Skills & Competencies
You should have several essential qualities to succeed at becoming a merchandising analyst.
- Math skills: This position is best suited to a mathematical, logical, left-brain mind who likes to work with computers at a desk in an office setting.
- Communication skills: Strong written and verbal communication skills are also necessary for writing reports and recommendations and clearly expressing reasoning and data.
- Organization: You'll be keeping track of several projects and initiatives at any given time.
- Creative problem-solving: Things won't always work out the way you expect, so you should be able to devise workable backup plans and know when to move on to one.
The field of merchandising and market research in general is expected to grow by a very significant 23% from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average for all occupations, and it's thanks largely to merchandisers who are working harder than ever to gear into the preferences and needs of consumers.
Merchandising analysts in the most popular apparel chains like Zara and Forever 21 have high-pressure, fast-moving job responsibilities as they keep pace with ever-changing trends. This can be stressful.
Major retail companies like Walmart and Costco require more in the way interpersonal work. Merchandising analysts will often need to provide guidance to leaders and decision-makers on a global scale.
Most merchandising analysts work full-time during normal business hours, with weekends and holidays off. Project deadlines can sometimes necessitate extra hours over 40 a week, however.
Comparing Similar Jobs
Some similar jobs and their median annual pay include:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018