The Fundamentals of Merchandising

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The Principles of Merchandising
The past decade has witnessed sea change in the world of retail, of which increasing competition is just one aspect. New and emerging technologies and customers fragmentation has made it even more difficult for retailers to retain consumers who are loyal to their stores. Walters and Hanharan have identified four key elements of the strategic direction that are retailer may take, they are: * Merchandise strategy; * Communications strategy; * Customer service strategy; and * Format and environment strategy.
Among all the elements of retail strategy, that of merchandising is becoming increasingly important, eventually determining the loyalty that a customer may have for a retail store. Over
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The structure of the merchandising department largely depends on the organizational structure adopted by that particular retail organization. Many organizations may also have a position known as a Purchase Agent. Purchase Agent and Buyers commonly focus on routine purchasing tasks, often specializing in a commodity or a group of related commodities, such as steel, cotton, grains, fabricated metal products, or petroleum products. Purchase Agents usually track market conditions, price trends, or futures markets.
The Merchandiser, on the other hand, is responsible for particular lines of merchandise. For example, in a departmental store, there may be merchandisers for menswear, women swear, children’s wear, etc. The basic duties of the merchandiser can be divided into four areas: planning, directing, coordinating and controlling as follows: 1. Planning. Though merchandisers may not be directly involved in the actual purchase of merchandise, they formulate the policies for areas in which they are responsible. These include forecasting sales for the forthcoming budget period, which further involves estimating consumer demand and the impact of changes in the retail environment. These sales forecasts are then translated into budgets to help the buyers to work within the financial guidelines. 2. Directing. Guiding and training buyers as and when the need arises is also a function of the merchandiser. Many a times, buyers
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