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Retail/Merchandising: What Can I Do With This Degree?

Buying/Purchasing

    Employers

    • Department stores
    • Specialty stores (e.g., clothing, home furnishings, jewelry, books, etc.)
    • Discount stores/mass merchants
    • Grocery stores

    Information & Strategies

    • Develop analytical and problem-solving skills to analyze industry trends and sales data.
    • Develop organizational skills to oversee the daily operation of a department or store (e.g., inventory monitoring).
    • Develop excellent interpersonal skills to work with and motivate sales force.
    • Develop strong written and oral communication skills for report writing and interacting with vendors.
    • Be prepared to travel frequently in order to visit various markets and search for new merchandise.
    • Gain experience working under pressure.
    • Develop a competitive drive with the understanding that a buyer's goal is to always beat the sales and profit record of the last year.
    • Gain as much sales and retail experience as possible.
    • Be prepared to begin as a buyer trainee.
    • Be aware that mergers and acquisitions have reduced the number of opportunities in this field.

    Management/Administration

    • Corporate management
    • Regional management
    • Store management
    • Store assistant management
    • Store department management

    Employers

    • Department stores
    • Specialty stores
    • Discount stores/mass merchants
    • Grocery stores
    • Dealerships (e.g., automobile, boat, etc.)

    Information & Strategies

    • Be prepared to start at the bottom. Most
      management training programs start associates on the sales floor.
    • Be willing to relocate to take advantage of promotion opportunities.
    • Develop excellent interpersonal skills to assist customers, handle complaints, and manage employees.
    • Develop excellent organizational skills to handle the daily operation of a store or a department.
    • Learn and perfect persuasive sales techniques.
    • Gain experience working on commission.
    • Be aware of the abundant number of opportunities in this field.

    Sales

    • Industrial sales
    • Consumer product sales
    • Financial services sales
    • Services sales
    • Advertising sales

    Employers

    • Profit and nonprofit organizations
    • Product and service organizations
    • Manufacturers
    • Financial companies
    • Insurance companies
    • Print and electronic media
    • Retail stores

    Information & Strategies

    • Obtain a part-time or internship sales position to gain experience. These position are often stepping stones to higher-level positions.
    • Develop excellent interpersonal skills and a strong commitment to customer satisfaction.
    • Develop problem-solving skills to handle customer or client inquiries and complaints.
    • Gain as much knowledge as possible about the product or service being sold.
    • Cultivate a competitive drive to reach sales quotas and break sales records.
    • Proven leadership abilities are desirable.
    • Must be highly motivated and well organized.

    Visual Merchandising

      Employers

      • Department stores
      • Specialty stores

      Information & Strategies

      • Develop proficiency for working with matters of taste and aesthetics (e.g., color, lighting, fashion, etc.).
      • Consider supplementing program with coursework in interior design, art, fashion design, or interior decorating.
      • Develop mechanical aptitude to build props or to adjust lighting for displays.
      • Be aware that positions in this area are limited.
      • Many managers or product representatives are responsible for creating store display designs.

      Non-Store Retailing

      • E-Commerce
      • Catalog: Sales, Management, Fulfillment/Distribution, Production
      • Direct Marketing

      Employers

      • Retailers in internet sales (e.g., Target.com)
      • Retailers with mail-order specialties (e.g., Spiegel, JC Penney)
      • Advertising agencies
      • Magazine, book, and record companies
      • TV retailing networks
      • Internet marketers

      Information & Strategies

      • Supplement program with courses in marketing, advertising, or communications.
      • Obtain sales experience through a retail or
        telemarketing position.
      • Develop strong computer skills.

      Small Business

      • Ownership
      • Independent consulting

      Employers

      • Self-employed
      • Companies that utilize independent consultants (e.g., Mary Kay Cosmetics, Tupperware)

      Information & Strategies

      • Develop an excellent knowledge of and belief in a particular product or service.
      • Supplement program with courses in accounting, advertising, or computers.
      • Obtain extensive sales and business experience by working for a company or retailer in a related product area before launching a small business.
      • Build relationships with potential investors and customers.
      • Join small business associations or Chamber of Commerce for networking opportunities.

      General Information

      • Obtain retail experience through summer jobs, part-time jobs, or internships.
      • Computer knowledge is crucial. Become familiar with technology related to internet sales, distribution, and inventory tracking.
      • Join student branches of professional retailing associations. Read their publications and attend their meetings.
      • Read the business section of newspapers and magazines to keep track of current trends in retail.
      • Be prepared to work holidays and weekends, typically the busiest times for retailers.
      • Contact stores or markets of interest. Inquire about management training programs.
      • Most retailers promote from within the organization; therefore, management trainee programs or sales associate positions are a good way to begin.
      • Supplement program with courses in marketing, accounting, communications, and computers.
      • Be aware of the many transferable skills associated with this degree.
      • For increased opportunity, determine alternative areas of business in which your skills, experiences, and interests might also apply.
      Download a PDF of this chart for easy printing.

      Students at North Park University