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Become A Merchandise Planner

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Working As A Merchandise Planner

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $52,940

    Average Salary

What Does A Merchandise Planner Do

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. They evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, and review the quality of products.

Duties

Buyers and purchasing agents typically do the following:

  • Evaluate suppliers on the basis of the price, quality, and speed of delivery of their products and services
  • Interview vendors and visit suppliers’ plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers
  • Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other information to determine reasonable prices
  • Negotiate contracts on behalf of their organization
  • Work out agreements with suppliers, such as when products will be delivered
  • Meet with staff and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action
  • Evaluate and monitor contracts to be sure that vendors and supplies comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and to determine the need for changes
  • Maintain and review records of items bought, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories

Buyers and purchasing agents buy farm products, durable and nondurable goods, and services for organizations and institutions. They try to get the best deal for their organization: the highest quality goods and services at the lowest cost. They do this by studying sales records and inventory levels of current stock, identifying foreign and domestic suppliers, and keeping up to date with changes affecting both the supply of, and demand for, products and materials.

Purchasing agents and buyers consider price, quality, availability, reliability, and technical support when choosing suppliers and merchandise. To be effective, purchasing agents and buyers must have a working technical knowledge of the goods or services they are purchasing.

Evaluating suppliers is one of the most critical functions of a buyer or purchasing agent. Many organizations run on a lean manufacturing schedule and use just-in-time inventories, so any delays in the supply chain can shut down production and cause the organization to lose customers.

Buyers and purchasing agents use many resources to find out all they can about potential suppliers. They attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers.

They often interview prospective suppliers and visit their plants and distribution centers to assess their capabilities. For example, they may discuss the design of products with design engineers, quality concerns with production supervisors, or shipping issues with managers in the receiving department.

Buyers and purchasing agents must make certain that the supplier can deliver the desired goods or services on time, in the correct quantities, and without sacrificing quality. Once they have gathered information on suppliers, they sign contracts with suppliers who meet the organization’s needs and they place orders.

Buyers who purchase items to resell to customers may determine which products their organization will sell. They need to be able to predict what will appeal to their customers. If they are wrong, they could jeopardize the profits and reputation of their organization.

Buyers who work for large organizations often specialize in purchasing one or two categories of products or services. Buyers who work for smaller businesses or government agencies may be responsible for making a greater variety of purchases.

Wholesale and retail buyers purchase goods for resale to consumers. Examples of these goods are clothing and electronics. Purchasing specialists who buy finished goods for resale are commonly known as buyers or merchandise managers.

Purchasing agents and buyers of farm products buy agricultural products for further processing or resale. Examples of these products are grain, cotton, and tobacco.

Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products buy items for the operation of an organization. Examples of these items are chemicals and industrial equipment needed for a manufacturing establishment, and office supplies.

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How To Become A Merchandise Planner

Although a high school diploma may be sufficient for some positions, many employers require buyers and purchasing agents to have a bachelor’s degree. Most entry-level positions require some form of on-the-job training.

Education

Educational requirements usually vary with the size of the organization. Although a high school diploma may be enough at some organizations, many businesses require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. For many positions, a degree in business, finance, or supply management is sufficient.

For those interested in a career as a buyer or purchasing agent of farm products, a degree in agriculture, agriculture production, or animal science is often beneficial.

Training

Buyers and purchasing agents typically get on-the-job training for more than 1 year. During this time, they learn how to perform their basic duties, including monitoring inventory levels and negotiating with suppliers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There are several certifications available for buyers and purchasing agents. Although some employers require certification, many do not.

Most of these certifications involve oral or written exams and have education and work experience requirements.

The Institute for Supply Management offers the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential, which covers a wide scope of purchasing professional duties. To receive the CPSM credential, candidates must pass three exams and those with a bachelor’s degree must possess at least 3 years of relevant work experience while those without a bachelor’s degree must have at least 5 years of relevant work experience.

The American Purchasing Society offers the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) certification. The CPP certification is valid for 5 years. Candidates must earn a certain number of professional development “points” to renew their certification. Candidates initially become eligible and can renew their certification through a combination of purchasing-related experience, education, and professional contributions (such as published articles or delivered speeches).

APICS offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. Applicants must have 3 years of relevant business experience or a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for the CSCP credential. The credential is valid for 5 years. Candidates must also earn a certain number of professional development points to renew their certification.

The Next Level Purchasing Association offers the Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM) Certification. Although there are no education or work experience requirements, applicants must complete six online courses and pass an SPSM exam. Certification is valid for 4 years. Candidates must complete 32 continuing education hours in procurement-related topics to recertify for an additional four-year period.

The Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) offers two certifications for workers in federal, state, and local government. The Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) credential requires applicants to have earned at least an associate’s degree, possess at least 3 years of public procurement experience, and complete relevant training courses. The Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) requires applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree, possess at least 5 years of public procurement experience, and complete additional training courses.

Those with the CPPB or the CPPO designation must renew their certification every 5 years by completing continuing education courses or attending procurement-related conferences or events.

The National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP), Institute for Public Procurement offers preparation courses for the UPPCC certification exams.

Advancement

An experienced purchasing agent or buyer may become an assistant purchasing manager before advancing to purchasing manager, supply manager, or director of materials management. Buyers and purchasing agents with extensive work experience can also advance to become the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) for an organization.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. When evaluating suppliers, buyers and purchasing agents must analyze their options and choose a supplier with the best combination of price, quality, delivery, or service. 

Decisionmaking skills. Buyers and purchasing agents must have the ability to make informed and timely decisions, choosing products that they think will sell.

Math skills. Buyers and purchasing agents must possess basic math skills. They must be able to compare prices from different suppliers to ensure that their organization is getting the best deal. 

Negotiating skills. Buyers and purchasing agents often must negotiate the terms of a contract with a supplier. Interpersonal skills and self-confidence, in addition to knowledge of the product, can help lead to successful negotiations.

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Merchandise Planner jobs

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Merchandise Planner Demographics

Gender

Female

59.8%

Male

37.8%

Unknown

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

80.1%

Asian

9.1%

Hispanic or Latino

8.8%

Unknown

1.6%

Black or African American

0.4%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

33.3%

French

13.3%

Mandarin

11.1%

Chinese

8.9%

Italian

6.7%

Hindi

4.4%

Russian

4.4%

Korean

4.4%

Vietnamese

2.2%

German

2.2%

Lithuanian

2.2%

Bengali

2.2%

Polish

2.2%

Arabic

2.2%
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Merchandise Planner Education

Schools

University of Wisconsin - Stout

10.1%

Fashion Institute of Technology

8.8%

San Francisco State University

6.9%

University of Phoenix

6.3%

University of Delaware

6.3%

Syracuse University

5.0%

New York University

5.0%

Villanova University

5.0%

West Virginia University

5.0%

University of Florida

5.0%

University of North Texas

4.4%

Ohio State University

4.4%

Florida State University

4.4%

Michigan State University

3.8%

Indiana University Bloomington

3.8%

University of San Francisco

3.1%

Ramapo College of New Jersey

3.1%

Pennsylvania State University

3.1%

Howard University

3.1%

Miami University

3.1%
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Majors

Business

31.9%

Marketing

16.6%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

7.5%

Finance

6.2%

Management

5.1%

Economics

4.6%

Accounting

4.5%

Communication

3.2%

Psychology

2.4%

Supply Chain Management

2.2%

Liberal Arts

1.9%

International Business

1.8%

Apparel And Textiles

1.6%

Business Economics

1.6%

Interior Design

1.6%

Political Science

1.6%

Sociology

1.6%

Family And Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences Business Services

1.4%

Graphic Design

1.4%

Human Resources Management

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

65.5%

Masters

18.3%

Other

8.6%

Associate

5.3%

Certificate

1.9%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Real Merchandise Planner Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Merchandise Planner Saks Fifth Avenue New York, NY Apr 15, 2013 $125,000
Merchandise Planner Victoria's Secret Beauty Limited New York, NY Sep 10, 2012 $120,750
Merchandise Planner Beauty Avenues, LLC New York, NY Sep 10, 2012 $120,750
Senior Merchandise Planner Victoria's Secret Stores Brand Management New York, NY Sep 03, 2013 $115,149 -
$130,000
Merchandise Planner Aeropostale Inc. New York, NY Jun 18, 2015 $110,000
Merchandise Planner Saks & Company New York, NY Feb 23, 2015 $105,000
Merchandise Planner Saks & Company New York, NY Jan 10, 2015 $105,000
Merchandise Planner, Private Label Saks & Company DBA Saks Fifth Avenue New York, NY Jan 22, 2015 $96,000
Merchandise Planner Bath & Body Works, LLC Reynoldsburg, OH Aug 10, 2015 $94,931
Merchandise Planner Pride Technologies LLC New York, NY Jun 13, 2011 $92,517
Merchandise Planner J. Crew Group, Inc. New York, NY Nov 12, 2012 $90,000
Merchandise Planner Saks Fifth Avenue New York, NY Mar 04, 2013 $90,000
Merchandise Planner Bath & Body Works, LLC Reynoldsburg, OH Oct 01, 2015 $75,005 -
$90,000
Planner, Merchandise Planning Analytics The Gap, Inc. San Francisco, CA Nov 01, 2016 $75,000 -
$90,000
Merchandise Planner Macy's Merchandising Corporation New York, NY Oct 15, 2009 $75,000
Merchandise Planner Macy's Merchandising Corporation New York, NY Sep 14, 2009 $75,000
Merchandise Planner MacYs Merchandising Corporation New York, NY Oct 15, 2009 $75,000
Merchandise Planner Macy's Merchandising Corporation New York, NY Oct 01, 2009 $75,000
Merchandise Planner Bath & Body Works, LLC Reynoldsburg, OH Nov 25, 2013 $74,000 -
$111,000
Merchandise Planner-Produce Meijer Great Lakes Limited Partnership Lansing, MI Oct 01, 2013 $70,619
Associate Merchandise Planner L Brands Service Company, LLC Columbus, OH Oct 24, 2016 $59,600 -
$89,400
Assistant Merchandise Planner Saks Fifth Avenue New York, NY Sep 17, 2009 $56,000
Assistant Merchandise Planner Saks Fifth Avenue New York, NY Oct 12, 2009 $56,000
Planner-Merchandise Distribution Payless Shoesource, Inc. Topeka, KS Sep 09, 2015 $55,000
Merchandise Planner/Analyst Draper's & Damon's, LLC Irvine, CA Aug 22, 2012 $54,659
Merchandise Distribution Planner Payless Shoesource, Inc. Topeka, KS Sep 03, 2014 $51,250
Merchandising Planner PPF Syracuse, Inc. Syracuse, NY Mar 11, 2015 $50,000

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Top Skills for A Merchandise Planner

FinancialGoalsSeasonalFinancialPlansVendorsAppropriateInventoryLevelsOpen-To-BuySKUAssortmentPlansOTBMaximizeSalesMerchandisePlansCurrentSalesTrendsMerchantsSalesPlansMenHistoricalDataInventoryPlansApparelReceiptFlowInventoryManagementJewelry

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Top Merchandise Planner Skills

  1. Financial Goals
  2. Seasonal Financial Plans
  3. Vendors
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Partnered with buyers to develop and execute seasonal business plans that delivered seasonal financial goals of sales, margin and turn.
  • Created seasonal financial plans to guarantee optimal inventory investment, increase merchandise flow, and reduce markdowns to ultimately maximize profitability.
  • Reviewed forecast and inventory plans with vendors to endure product availability.
  • Identify opportunities/risks in current business trend; execute strategies to keep appropriate inventory levels as needed.
  • Managed open-to-buy, developed key item unit plans, managed all markdowns.

Top Merchandise Planner Employers

Merchandise Planner Videos

Careers in Fashion : Fashion Merchandising Jobs

Career Advice on becoming a Fashion Buyer by Sahar K (Full Version)

Fabulous Fashion Careers: Life As A Fashion Buyer for Urban Outfitters

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