The retail industry is an exciting, vibrant and dynamic place to build a career. Competition for jobs is unsurprisingly fierce, which makes it all the more important to build a CV brimming with training, qualifications and relevant work experience to break into the industry. Two key roles in this sector are Buyers and Merchandisers. In this article, Solvo Vir explores what Buying and Merchandising in retail actually entails and how to get started in one of these exciting roles.
Career opportunities in the world of retail extend far beyond the shop floor. Buying and Merchandising are two interconnected areas of the industry that allow prospective candidates to drive trends and profits respectively. If that sounds like the perfect career path for you, the Level 4 Buying & Merchandising Assistant Apprenticeship from Solvo Vir can give you the skills you need to take your first step on the retail ladder.
Before we tell you about this fantastic apprenticeship, let’s take a look at these roles in more detail to give you a deeper understanding of the skills, responsibilities and entry requirements needed to succeed. If you’ve ever wondered what Buying and Merchandising in retail entails or are curious to know whether a Merchandiser is the same as a Buyer, we have all the answers you need to compare the role of a Merchandiser vs Buyer in retail.
What is Buying and Merchandising in retail?
So, just what is Buying and Merchandising in retail? Well, both of these fast-paced career paths are directly involved with ensuring the latest trends reach our shelves. However, although they are often spoken about in the same vein, and they might work closely with one another, a Merchandiser is not the same as a Buyer.
A Buyer is almost exclusively focused on the product. Their job is to keep up to date with emerging trends and select, design, and develop the appropriate product lines to bring to market. Merchandisers, on the other hand, concentrate on the logistical aspect of keeping the Buyer’s products stocked, to meet customer demand. While also managing the overall department budgets, and ensuring Buyers are not overspending. The ultimate goal for both roles being that products and ranges are profitable, and Buyers and Merchandisers should be aiming to ensure the efficiency of a products lifecycle. The difference being that, Buyers look to do it via developing and updating products, while cost saving, whereas Merchandisers look at overall costs, stock quotas and cost saving via markdowns etc.
Prospects for a Merchandiser vs Buyer in retail
Part of the appeal of becoming a Merchandiser or Buyer, aside from becoming a central cog in a fast-moving retail business, is the high level of early responsibility that is likely to come with the job, as well as some occasional travel to relevant trade exhibitions and meetings with key suppliers.
Assistant Merchandisers can expect entry-level earnings of around £16,000 to £18,000 or £22,000 with appropriate experience. With more experience, a Merchandiser can command a top-end salary of around £36,000. A junior Buyer can command anything from £18,000 to £25,000 from the outset up to a threshold of £45,000 after amassing considerable experience.
Skills and qualifications required to become a Buyer or Merchandiser
Both jobs require the following attributes:
Excellent time management
A passion for retail
Strong commercial awareness
Ability to work under pressure
Given the high number of applicants versus the limited number of career opportunities available, retailers have historically opted for graduate applicants over other candidates. However, a degree course isn’t the only way to acquire these skills. They can also be honed on the job (although this route will take longer) through relevant work experience – such as a part-time job, an internship or volunteering – or more quickly via an apprenticeship.
Which brings us neatly back to the Level 4 Buying & Merchandising Assistant Apprenticeship that we offer here at Solvo Vir. This 18 to 24-month programme is the first of its kind for this vocation and is delivered via a blend of specialist workshops, remote learning and one-to-one workplace support from a specialised Trainer Assessor with industry experience in the retail sector. It provides the ideal springboard for passionate and creative candidates looking to launch a career in retail.
For more information about this apprenticeship programme, or to speak to one of our expert advisers directly about your training requirements, please contact Solvo Vir on 0330 0539140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.