What does a Merchandising Director do?

D. Waldman
D. Waldman
A merchandising director sets shipping deadlines.
A merchandising director sets shipping deadlines.

A merchandising director is a key player in the retail industry. He is responsible for acquiring products from manufacturers that will eventually be sold by his company as part of its product lines. The requirements for being a successful merchandising director often include product knowledge, negotiating skills, and the ability to correctly gauge current and future market demands.

At many stores, the merchandise director selects which items to promote heavily, based in part on product prices and industry trends.
At many stores, the merchandise director selects which items to promote heavily, based in part on product prices and industry trends.

The initial process the merchandising director is responsible for involves selecting the most appropriate line of products to sell. This can be done by attending trade shows to view new or improved merchandise on the market, conducting surveys with current customers to determine needs, or evaluating current sales trends to identify items in the current product lineup with consistently strong results. This is a key step in the merchandising process, primarily because a poorly chosen product can ultimately lead to low sales and excess merchandise that cannot be moved while still making a profit.

Merchandising directors may determine the shelf life of certain products.
Merchandising directors may determine the shelf life of certain products.

Once the potential products have been identified, the merchandising director then needs to select a viable source from which to obtain the product. The marketing director may choose to buy the merchandise directly from the manufacturer, offering a potential advantage when it comes to reducing cost and allowing for custom product adjustments. He may also work through a middle man who negotiates with the manufacturers on behalf of several buyers, often providing a larger price discount due to the higher volumes being purchased at a time.

Merchandising directors need to accurately forecast supply and demand of numerous clothing styles.
Merchandising directors need to accurately forecast supply and demand of numerous clothing styles.

After the merchandising director selects the best manufacturer or distributor, he must then work directly with them to establish a suitable price. The price of the merchandise will often vary greatly, depending on the size of the order being placed and customizations being requested, if any. While initial orders tend to be larger than others in order to build up stock, subsequent orders are typically designed to replenish current stock and will usually involve smaller quantities. A merchandising director will often establish a contract with the manufacturer or distributor which provides a set price for both the larger initial shipment as well as smaller subsequent orders.

A merchandising director will decide which brands of products a store will promote.
A merchandising director will decide which brands of products a store will promote.

The merchandising director is then responsible for placing the order based on the current needs of his company, with projected market demand playing a key factor in the decision-making process. He would also be in charge of setting the appropriate shipping deadline for the merchandise, ensuring the company will have ample time to sell the product based on any seasonal trends that may affect it. The typical delay between the initial purchase negotiations and the delivery of the final product is what drives the merchandising director to purchase items intended for use one or more seasons into the future, as opposed to relying solely on current market trends.

Once the merchandise arrives, the merchandising director is in charge of arranging the delivery of the product to the retail storefront. He will often work with the marketing department to create advertising campaigns for significant product releases. At times, he may also work with the financial aspects of the product, helping to determine the best-selling price based on the purchase price and desired profit margin.

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    • A merchandising director sets shipping deadlines.
      A merchandising director sets shipping deadlines.
    • At many stores, the merchandise director selects which items to promote heavily, based in part on product prices and industry trends.
      At many stores, the merchandise director selects which items to promote heavily, based in part on product prices and industry trends.
    • Merchandising directors may determine the shelf life of certain products.
      Merchandising directors may determine the shelf life of certain products.
    • Merchandising directors need to accurately forecast supply and demand of numerous clothing styles.
      Merchandising directors need to accurately forecast supply and demand of numerous clothing styles.
    • A merchandising director will decide which brands of products a store will promote.
      A merchandising director will decide which brands of products a store will promote.