What Does a Retail Sales Merchandiser Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Clothing hanging on a rack in a department store
••• Miguel Pereira/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Retail sales merchandisers work with retailers inside brick-and-mortar retail stores, but generally not as employees of a retail company. A retail sales merchandiser is employed by a manufacturer of products to interface with a number of different retail outlets that carry the manufacturer’s merchandise.

It's the responsibility of the retail sales merchandiser to use service best practices to maintain a good working relationship with individual retailers after a sales contract has been created.

Retail Sales Merchandiser Duties & Responsibilities

A retail sales merchandiser's responsibilities are accomplished through various efforts.

  • Ensure that a proper level of stock is maintained and that the merchandise is displayed appropriately with proper signage and favorable shelf placement.
  • Resolve issues that may arise as a result of audits.
  • Solve problems at the store level to maintain the standards established in the initial sales agreement.
  • Train store employees to give them an awareness and appreciation of certain products so they're more likely to recommend these products to customers.
  • Execute and oversee special promotional campaigns created to boost sales volume.
  • Monitor sales volume, inspect inventory levels, and maintaining in-store promotional materials.

The goal of retail sales merchandisers is to help both the retailer and the manufacturer maximize sales and increase sales volume.

Retail Sales Merchandiser Salary

Most retail sales merchandisers are paid an hourly wage, often without benefits, but they might have an opportunity for additional commissions or bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $26,853 ($12.91/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $36,816 ($17.70/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $23,275 ($11.19/hour)

Source: PayScale

Depending on the size of the assigned territory, the retail sales merchandiser might get a company car or car allowance, and travel expenses can be reimbursed.

Education, Training & Certification

This occupation doesn't require any extensive education, but it's often preferred.

  • Education: A college degree is often desired, but not required. Retailing, marketing, or business degrees are preferred, but other degrees or even a high school diploma can be acceptable.
  • Experience: Retail or merchandising experience at the store level is preferred, but not always required. Prior experience with maintaining customer relationships or client accounts is a plus, as is a demonstrated ability to influence decision-makers is considered a plus.
  • Training: Training is typically on the job.

    Retail Sales Merchandiser Skills & Competencies

    You should have a few essential qualities and skills to succeed as a retail sales merchandiser. 

    • Interpersonal skills: Maintaining a good rapport with employees at all levels is essential.
    • Communication skills: Having effective communication with both employees and customers is critical to success.
    • Computer proficiency: Reporting methods will vary for each employer, but basic computer proficiency and knowledge of software programs is usually necessary.

    Job Outlook

    The job outlook for retail sales workers overall is just 2% from 2016 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much slower than the average for all occupations. Increasing competition from online sales and markets can mean fewer brick-and-mortar stores, minimizing the need for employees in this role.

    Work Environment

    This position requires the constant handling and distribution of merchandise, so retail sales merchandisers must be prepared to engage in considerable physical activity. You must be willing and able to lift and move products, and the use of proper safety practices and equipment is essential.

    The job also entails a good bit of travel, going to the client for sales or to perform stocking responsibilities.

    Work Schedule

    Many retail sales merchandiser positions are part-time, but additional travel time should be factored in. You'll typically work retail hours, which means evenings, weekends, and some holidays might be required. You might find that vacation and other scheduled time off is limited to slower, off-season months.

    How to Get the Job

    GET CERTIFIED

    Becoming a Certified Professional Manufacturers' Representative (CPMR) or a Certified Sales Professional (CSP) is optional, but both credentials can help your chances of landing a job. They require formal training and passing an exam.

    KEEP UP WITH CHANGING NEEDS

    Consider joining the Manufacturers' Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF) for networking opportunities through various associations and information about current trends in the business. The MRERF also offers various certifications.

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