Career Development

What Does a Merchandise Associate Do?

Find out what a merchandise associate does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a merchandise associate.

Merchandise associates are the face of retail. They interact with customers on a daily basis, helping them find what they’re looking for and suggesting other products that might interest them. Merchandise associates also work closely with vendors to ensure that their store has an ample supply of merchandise at all times.

Merchandise Associate Job Duties

A merchandise associate typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Stocking shelves with new merchandise, removing old items, and maintaining displays
  • Organizing store events such as sales, promotions, and fashion shows
  • Receiving and processing incoming shipments of merchandise and merchandise returns
  • Pricing and tagging items according to store policies and procedures
  • Updating price tags on items or scanning items using a computerized inventory system
  • Providing excellent customer service by answering questions about products, suggesting additional items that might be of interest, and helping customers find what they are looking for
  • Participating in merchandising displays by planning and organizing layouts for store windows, walls, floors, and counters
  • Accurately processing payments for merchandise using cash registers or computers
  • Selling merchandise by providing product knowledge to customers and demonstrating items to potential buyers

Merchandise Associate Salary & Outlook

Merchandise associate salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company they work for. They may also receive benefits, such as health insurance, 401k contributions, and paid vacation days.

  • Median Annual Salary: $31,500 ($15.14/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $54,500 ($26.2/hour)

The employment of merchandise associates is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited by the increasing automation of retail establishments. Self-service checkout systems and electronic price tags have reduced the amount of time cashiers spend processing payments and collecting prices from customers. In addition, some retailers are using mobile devices to allow customers to scan and pay for their own purchases. These technological changes should reduce the need for traditional cashiers.

Merchandise Associate Job Requirements

A merchandise associate may have the following qualifications:

Education: A high school diploma is often a minimum requirement to become a merchandise associate. However, some employers may prefer an associate’s degree in merchandising, retail or business.

Training & Experience: Merchandise associates typically receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training may last for a few weeks and may include instruction on the company’s computer system, how to use the point of sale system and how to handle and organize merchandise. Merchandise associates who work in retail may also receive training on how to handle customer complaints and how to handle returns.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not required for most merchandise associate positions, those who want to increase their earning capacity might consider completing a professional certification.

Merchandise Associate Skills

Merchandise associates need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Communication skills are essential in a retail environment, where you may be required to interact with customers, managers and other employees. Effective communication skills can help you to convey information clearly, answer questions and resolve issues.

Product knowledge: A large part of your job as a merchandise associate is to help customers find the right products for them. You should have a good understanding of the products you sell, including their features, benefits and prices. This can help you make informed recommendations to customers and help them find the products they need.

Time management: Time management skills can help you stay on task during your shifts. You may have a certain amount of tasks you need to complete in a certain amount of time. Having good time management skills can help you complete your tasks on time and keep your store running smoothly.

Problem-solving skills: Problem-solving skills are essential for a successful career in retail. You may be required to find solutions to problems that arise during the day, such as a customer who is dissatisfied with a product or a manager who needs help with a task. You can also use problem-solving skills to find ways to increase sales and improve your performance.

Teamwork skills: Working in a team can help you learn how to communicate with your coworkers and share responsibilities. You can use teamwork skills to help you learn how to handle customer service issues, restock shelves and complete other tasks.

Merchandise Associate Work Environment

The work environment for a merchandise associate is usually a retail setting, such as a department store, grocery store, or drug store. They typically work during regular business hours, although they may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays, depending on the needs of the store. Merchandise associates typically work on their feet for long periods of time and may be required to lift heavy boxes or containers of merchandise. The job can be stressful at times, especially during busy periods, such as holidays, when they may be required to work long hours to keep up with customer demand.

Merchandise Associate Trends

Here are three trends influencing how merchandise associates work. Merchandise associates will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Digital Commerce

The growth of digital commerce is changing the way that people shop, and this is having a major impact on the retail industry. As more and more people shop online, retailers are having to find new ways to attract customers and keep them coming back for more.

This trend is creating opportunities for merchandisers who can create unique experiences for shoppers that will keep them coming back for more. By using technology and data analytics, merchandisers can create personalized shopping experiences that meet the needs of individual customers.

More Focus on Personalization

As consumers become more accustomed to receiving personalization in their shopping experience, they will expect it from all retailers. This means that merchandisers will need to focus on developing products that are tailored to specific customer segments.

In order to be successful in this environment, merchandisers will need to be able to understand the needs of their customers and develop products that meet those needs. They will also need to be able to track customer feedback and make changes to products based on what they hear.

A Greater Emphasis on Branding

Branding has always been important for businesses, but in recent years it has become even more essential. This is because customers are increasingly looking for products that reflect their values and identity.

As a result, merchandisers need to be familiar with branding techniques that can help their company stand out from the competition. They also need to be able to work with designers and marketing teams to create products that resonate with customers.

How to Become a Merchandise Associate

A career as a merchandise associate can be a great way to get your foot in the door of the retail industry. As a merchandising associate, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of retail and develop skills that will help you succeed in any role within the industry.

You’ll start by learning about the different departments within a store and how they work together to create a cohesive shopping experience for customers. You’ll also learn about the products sold in each department and how to display them so they sell well. Additionally, you’ll learn about marketing campaigns and how to promote products effectively.

As you progress in your career, you’ll move into more specialized roles within merchandising. You may become a buyer, who is responsible for purchasing products for their department; or a planner, who creates the layout of the store and plans promotions and displays; or a designer, who creates the look and feel of the store.

Related: How to Write a Merchandise Associate Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance your career as a merchandise associate. One of the best ways is to get more education and training in the field. There are many different specialized areas within the field of merchandising, such as visual merchandising, buying, and product development. The more knowledge and experience you have in these areas, the more likely you are to be promoted to a higher position.

Another way to advance your career is to move into a management position. As a merchandise associate, you may be responsible for supervising other associates and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the department. If you have the ability to lead and motivate others, you may be promoted to a management position.

Finally, you can advance your career by becoming a certified merchandiser. There are several professional organizations that offer certification programs for merchandisers. By becoming certified, you will show that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful merchandiser.

Merchandise Associate Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], our Merchandise Associates are responsible for providing an exceptional shopping experience to our customers. They do this by maintaining a clean and organized store, stocking shelves with merchandise, and providing excellent customer service. Our ideal candidate is a people-person with a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. He or she must be able to lift heavy objects, stand for long periods of time, and be comfortable working in a fast-paced environment. If you are a self-starter with a passion for fashion and a desire to work in a fun and dynamic environment, we want to hear from you!

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Maintain store appearance by cleaning, stocking, and organizing merchandise
  • Assist customers with purchasing decisions, providing product knowledge and recommendations
  • Operate point-of-sale system to process sales transactions, returns, and exchanges
  • Monitor inventory levels and restock shelves as needed
  • Complete price changes and markdowns in a timely manner
  • Adhere to all company policies and procedures
  • Help train new associates as needed
  • Serve as a role model for other associates, demonstrating positive customer service skills
  • Handle customer complaints in a professional and courteous manner
  • Participate in store merchandising and marketing initiatives
  • Assist with loss prevention efforts
  • Perform opening and closing duties as needed

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • 1-2 years of retail experience
  • Basic math skills
  • Excellent communication, customer service, and time management skills
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time and lift up to 50 pounds
  • Flexibility to work nights, weekends, and holidays

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree in business or related field
  • 3-5 years of retail experience
  • Working knowledge of POS systems
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Leadership experience

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