For any sales operation, it is important to keep track of how products are purchased, advertised, and sold to efficiently maintain inventory and meet customers' needs. Larger firms often create merchandising departments specifically dedicated to this task, within which are various managers who oversee areas such as maintaining product lines, purchasing, advertisement, vendor relationships, and customer service. Merchandising assistants are responsible for providing administrative support to these managers. While merchandising departments exist in many firms, they are often found in large retail operations with a large number of product lines that these companies must manage.
While merchandising assistants perform a large portion of their work in office settings, the job may have moderate physical demands such as lifting and carrying objects up to 50 pounds. Merchandising assistants typically work full time in an office setting, but this schedule often shifts considerably during peak sales periods such as Christmas.
Much of the work in merchandising involves data collection and analysis; merchandising assistants must demonstrate the ability to gather data accurately, compile it efficiently, and present it to managers coherently. Most firms require or prefer that merchandising assistants have proficiency with computer programs such as the Microsoft Office suite, Lotus Notes, SAP, and other database software. Assistants must be able to work independently on several projects at once and must be highly organized to manage these projects, which often involve several areas of the department. Merchandising assistants may have to interact with both customers and vendors, so it is important for these assistants to maintain a friendly and professional demeanor and to hone their negotiation skills. Therefore, many firms require previous customer service and administrative experience for merchandising assistants. Occasionally, firms require at least an associate’s degree in business, advertising, or a related field; however, firms often accept experience and skills in lieu of a degree.
Merchandising Assistant Tasks
Maintain and reconcile accounts, creating invoices and sending checks.
Enter, validate and authorize data.
Analyze data, write reports and create documents and presentations.
Update and maintain product catalog and descriptions, working with suppliers.
Coordinate meetings, organize calendars and create and send correspondence.