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  • Writer's pictureMark Edwards

Starting A Career in Buying and Merchandising

Updated: May 24

Why Retail?

Since the retail industry is estimated to grow to almost £60billion by 2019 (Mintel 2015), it offers the potential for an exciting and financially lucrative career. Moreover, the changing preferences of younger shoppers is also altering the shopping experience as we know it. Increasingly, shoppers want a ‘leisure experience’ when shopping. This can be seen in the rise in demand for in store make overs and spa type treatments. The BBC recently reported that Debenhams has been slow to react to the changing times and has dropped 6.4% in its profits as a result. To turn this around, the retailer has resolved to become a ‘social destination’ for shopping. Shoppers will be able enjoy leisure experiences and utilise their mobile devices through improved online services. In addition, Debenhams is also cutting back the number of clothing lines it offers. In effect, it has a whole new buying and merchandising strategy. If other retailers follow suit, Buying and Merchandising will be two of the most exciting roles within the retail industry. This is because the buyers will be responsible for streamlining the product ranges by keeping track of customer demand, price, quality and availability as well as market trends, store policy and financial budgets. In contrast, while Merchandisers work closely with buyers, they are primarily responsible for ensuring that products appear in the right stores, or websites at the right times and in the correct quantities.

Is it rewarding?

Entry level salaries start anywhere from £18-19K. However, with the right skills and determination, there is potential to climb the salary scale with the top earners making between £85-100K.

How do you get into Merchandising/Buying?

You don’t necessarily need a Degree in Buying & Merchandising but you must have a general passion for retail. The most important skills to have are an analytical mind, excellent communication & dedication. Retail is, however, a highly competitive market. There will be many other hopefuls trying to move from “the floor” into the head office. So, you will need to prove yourself by demonstrating your skills early on. For those who have the means and would prefer a degree route, there are various BA & MA courses available. Moreover, most of the large UK retailers offer fantastic graduate schemes with great starting salaries. These schemes often admit graduates with specialisms in any analytical degree like Business Studies, Economics or even Languages. For the purists out there, good Fashion Buying or Merchandising degrees will also help you to make your way into a buying or merchandising career.


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