Merchandise Analyst Overview
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Fields||Business, supply chain, or finance|
|Experience||1-3 years in retail or business environment|
|Key Skills||Analytic, problem-solving, decision-making, communication, negotiation, organization, time management, reporting, and data entry skills; knowledge of Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and Access database software, inventory reporting, and ordering systems|
|Salary (2016)||$65,180 yearly (median for all merchandise planners)|
Merchandise analysts, also called merchandise planners, monitor inventory and follow and chart the profits and sales of a store or company. They also watch consumer patterns, such as seasonal purchasing, and present their findings to store managers, buyers, planners, and corporate executives. Additionally, merchandise analysts offer insight on ways to alter merchandise assortments in order to increase revenue and minimize loss. Long work hours might be required due to tight deadlines.
Merchandise analysts need analytic ability, along with problem solving, decision making, written and oral communication, negotiation, organization, time management, and reporting skills. They must be skilled at data entry and familiar with Microsoft Excel and Access, as well as inventory reporting and ordering systems. According to PayScale.com, merchandise planners made a median annual salary of $65,180 as of January 2016.
Let's trace the steps to become a merchandise analyst.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Employers usually prefer that merchandise analysts have a 4-year degree in business, economics, finance, accounting, statistics, or a related field. Courses in merchandise marketing can offer insight into the retail environment - from product promotion to tracking buying fads. Students also might learn to create spreadsheets for planning when to buy, stock, and mark down inventory. Individuals interested in pursuing this career should choose a program where they can learn to be proficient in statistical analysis and to formulate business strategies and solutions. They also should learn to research and forecast market trends and fluctuations.
Merchandise analysts often work closely with store personnel, so it's helpful if they become familiar with retail merchandise settings. Gaining retail experience allows a prospective analyst to learn the ins and outs of running a store, providing customer service, overseeing inventory, and working with sales teams.
Many colleges and universities offer internships in retail industries for students in bachelor's degree programs. Internships allow individuals to gain hands-on experience, honing their abilities to predict consumer behavior and retail trends.
Step 2: Find a Corporate Merchandise Training Program
Some retail corporations offer merchandise training programs for new college graduates who plan to pursue a career in retail merchandising. These programs are on-the-job training to teach participants about all facets of the industry. Merchandise training programs often start participants in an allocation analyst role and allow them to learn in-depth about merchandise buying, planning, and management roles to which they may eventually advance. Merchandise analysts work in various industries, so an aspiring professional might explore diverse careers from fashion retail to sports team marketing.
In summary, merchandise analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in a business-related field. They also might benefit from completing a merchandise training program with a retail corporation.