29 November 2012

Jewellery merchandisers are responsible for ensuring that each branch of a retail chain has the right amount of stock at any given time.

Annett Gerritse, Morning Glory ring, silver, monel mesh, coral beads, nylon wire. Photo: Association for Contemporary Jewellery
Annett Gerritse, Morning Glory ring, silver, monel mesh, coral beads, nylon wire. Photo: Association for Contemporary Jewellery

What do merchandisers do?

Merchandisers are responsible for planning and forecasting all jewellery sales, stock, discount and intake.

A key part of a merchandiser’s role is driving sales and profit for the business. They plan discounts and price promotions.

What is the job like?

Merchandisers are normally based at the jewellery company’s head office, and work alongside the buying team to plan the ranges, stock levels, forecast trends and monitor sales.

Your work will be very varied, and will include:

  • working with suppliers to ensure all orders arrive at the business on time, and in the right amounts 
  • being responsible for range planning, to ensure the right mix of products is selected for each store and website
  • analysing sales figures and monitoring stock movements
  • using specialised computer software (known as Merchandising Planning and Reporting systems) to forecast future sales and profit margins
  • working with marketing staff to plan promotions
  • Dealing with enquiries from retail branches
  • Working closely with logistics and the warehouse department, ensuring good stock flow in and out of the warehouse.

In smaller companies, you may be responsible for both buying and merchandising.

How do I become a jewellery merchandiser?  

Jewellery merchandising is a popular job, and one where previous retail experience is a big advantage. 

You could gain this experience through part-time work in a shop, or voluntary work in a charity shop. Work experience in a head office or branch of a jewellery chain would be equally useful.

It's important to have an awareness of high street issues – you will need to be aware of your competitors.

Try to find out as much as you can about stock control systems, as this is closely related to merchandising.

There is a very structured career path towards becoming a merchandiser:

  • allocators and distributors chase up stock and orders, and manage stock levels in stores
  • assistant merchandisers are more involved in ordering, forecasting and range planning, as well as planning promotional activity
  • merchandisers do more strategic planning, managing a team and forecasting and planning for the future.

A good working knowledge of IT packages for the office, including spreadsheets, databases and PowerPoint will help you. Any work experience or paid employment in an office is also an advantage.

In order to become a successful merchandiser, you will need to be:

  • highly numerate, with good logical skills
  • well-organised and able to plan ahead
  • good at both written and verbal communication
  • good in situations which need strong analytical and negotiation skills
  • able to remain calm under pressure
  • commercially aware, and able to anticipate potential problems in a business.

It is also important to have an awareness of high street issues – you will need to be aware of your competitors, and understand who is doing well and why.

You will also need an understanding of the importance of a brand name to a retail stockist, and therefore to the consumer.

School subjects that are beneficial for merchandising are maths, English, IT and business studies. Any subject that involves logical thinking and problem solving would be useful.

What training and qualifications do I need?

A degree is the normal route into jewellery merchandising.  You might have a vocational degree in a subject such as retail management or business studies, or a degree in another subject.

Some companies offer graduate retail training schemes which are open to graduates with a degree in any subject. These usually include training in merchandising.  

Some people also progress into jewellery merchandising after working in a high street branch.

The UCAS website will direct you to relevant degree courses.  Search by subject, and then use the alphabetical course list to find Retail Management and Business Studies courses.

Course titles for related degrees include:

  • Fashion Buying and Merchandising
  • Fashion Retail Merchandising
  • Retail Management

The courses that include fashion tend to focus more on clothing rather than jewellery, but also provide transferable skills that are highly relevant for the jewellery industry.

Many courses include an industrial placement, and it may be possible to organise this within a jewellery company.

Make sure you write a strong UCAS personal statement that makes you stand out from the crowd.

The entry requirements for these degree courses vary – universities will ask you to have a certain number of UCAS tariff points, which equates to two or three A levels at particular grades or equivalent.

Alternative entry qualifications include the BTEC National/Extended Diploma, where you may need a merit or distinction. You will normally also need GCSE English and maths at grade C or above.

Entry to these courses is competitive, so make sure you write a strong UCAS personal statement that makes you stand out from the crowd and shows your interest and experience in the retail sector.

BTEC Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Foundation Degrees may also be available. The entrance requirements are lower than those for degrees – usually one or two A levels or equivalent.

IT qualifications such as the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) are also really useful for anyone wishing to enter jewellery merchandising. The ECDL is often offered on a part-time basis at local colleges and adult education providers.

What can I earn?

A starting salary for an allocator could be in the region of £18,000 to £22,000 per year.

With more experience, assistant merchandiser salaries can range from about £23,000 to £30,000 per year.

Salaries for merchandisers start at about £32,000, and experienced merchandisers can earn up to £50,000.

Salaries will vary according to where you are based in the country and the type and size of company you are working for. Higher salaries are often paid to those working in London and the South East.

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