A common find in most retail stores, a merchandise manager is primarily in charge of sales and ordering for a store; he or she also may manage the store's staff. Those who become a merchandise manager typically have a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field. In addition, a person who wants to work as a merchandise manager must have personal skills related to organization and leadership. He or she must know how to use database, word processing and product ordering programs — or an ability to learn them. The merchandise manager also must be able to work with product prices to ensure the business makes sales without losing a profit.
When someone applies to become a merchandise manager, one of the primary requirements is a bachelor’s degree. The most common is a business degree, but marketing and economics degrees also can work. Some businesses are not as picky and will accept applicants who have a degree in any field as long as it is a bachelor's degree. Other companies will hire applicants without a degree as long as they have managerial or assistant managerial experience. Most commonly, though, a degree will be required.
There are personal skills required of anyone who wants to become a merchandise manager, the two most common being organization and leadership. Organization is required because the manager needs to ensure that all products are ordered on time and that the store is making sales. The merchandise manager also must be organized so he or she can coordinate with nearby stores of the same chain, so all the stores can hit their sales goals. The merchandise manager will be working with employees, so the applicant also should have leadership abilities.
The technical skills required to become a merchandise manager are limited. Commonly, the applicant just has to be knowledgeable in word processing and database programs, and must be able to learn new programs quickly. It is recommended that the applicant know how to work a product-ordering program, but this is typically taught on the job.
One of the most important functions of a merchandise manager is to work with product prices to ensure the store makes a profit. The manager must know the price offered by the competition, so he or she can set prices at a similar level. At the same time, the merchandise manager must realize when a price is too low; otherwise, the store can lose vast amounts of money.