Career Services

social

Retail/Merchandising

What can I do with this major?

Area

Employer

Information/Strategies

Buying/Purchasing

  • Product Development
  • Planning and Allocation
  • Discount stores
  • Mass merchants
  • Grocery stores
  • Specialty stores (e.g., clothing, home furnishings, jewelry, books, electronics, etc.)
  • Department stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacy retailers
  • Obtain sales and retail experience through part-time jobs and internships.
  • Prepare to work under pressure in fast-paced environments.
  • Develop organizational skills and attention to detail to monitor inventory and compare products, prices and markets.
  • Acquire analytical and mathematical skills to operate within a budget and to evaluate sales data including competitors'.
  • Develop excellent interpersonal and communication skills for negotiating with vendors.
  • Be prepared to travel frequently in order to visit markets and search for new merchandise.
  • Expect to work with overseas suppliers. Knowledge of languages, customs and cultures will be helpful.
  • Develop a competitive drive with the understanding that a buyer's goal is to beat the sales and profit records of the previous year.
  • Be prepared to begin as a buyer trainee. Training periods can range from 1 to 5 years.

Sales

  • Industrial
  • Wholesale
  • Direct Marketing
  • Consumer Product
  • Financial Services
  • Services
  • Advertising
  • E-commerce
  • Customer Service
  • Profit and non-profit organizations
  • Product and service organizations
  • Manufacturers
  • Financial companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Print and electronic media outlets
  • Software and technology companies
  • Retail stores
  • Obtain a part-time job or internship in sales to gain experience, as these positions are often stepping stones to higher-level positions.
  • Demonstrate initiative, organization and problemsolving skills.
  • Enjoy working with people.
  • A commitment to customer satisfaction is imperative.
  • Learn to communicate effectively with a wide-range of people. Take additional courses in interpersonal communication and public speaking.
  • Develop persuasion skills and extensive knowledge of merchandise for sale.
  • Cultivate a competitive drive to reach sales quotas and break sales records under pressure.

Management/Administration

  • Corporate
  • Regional
  • Store
  • Store Assistant
  • Store Department
  • Discount stores
  • Mass merchants
  • Grocery stores
  • Specialty stores
  • Dealerships
  • Department stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacy retailers
  • Seek retail experience through internships or part-time jobs.
  • Get involved in student organizations and seek leadership roles.
  • Be prepared to start in entry-level management trainee positions.
  • Learn to work well on a team and to motivate and direct others.
  • Develop quick decision-making, problem solving skills and communication skills to assist customers, manage employees, monitor promotions and sales goals and work with buyers.
  • Excellent organizational skills are necessary to oversee the daily operations of a store or a department.
  • Plan to work long and/or irregular hours, including holidays.

Human Resources

  • Recruiting/Staffing
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Orientation/Training
  • Safety/Health
  • Employee Relations
  • Employee Services
  • Discount stores
  • Mass merchants
  • Grocery stores
  • Specialty stores
  • Department stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacy retailers
  • Supplement degree program with classes in psychology, sociology and human resource development.
  • Gain relevant experience through internships.
  • Develop strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Learn to solve problems creatively, and build conflict resolution skills.
  • Develop strong computer skills, as many human resource systems are automated.
  • Join the Society of Human Resource Management and other related professional associations.
  • Seek endorsements such as the Professional Human Resource Certifi cation (PHR).
  • Earn a master's degree for career advancement or a law degree for employment law.

Small Business

  • Ownership
  • Independent Consulting
  • Self-employed
  • Companies that utilize independent consultants (e.g., Mary Kay Cosmetics, Tupperware)
  • Entrepreneurial spirit, including self-discipline and perseverance, are keys to success.
  • 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.

Visual Merchandising

 
  • Department stores
  • Specialty stores
  • Demonstrate creativity and knowledge of design concepts (lighting, color, etc.); knowledge of fashion and sales trends is also helpful.
  • Seek retail sales experience and plan to shadow or intern with a visual merchandiser.
  • Supplement degree with courses on buying behavior, consumer psychology, interior design, art, fashion design and/or interior decorating.
  • Develop mechanical aptitude to set up displays, build props and adjust lighting.

Non-Store Retailing

  • E-commerce
  • Direct Marketing
  • Catalog:
    • Sales, Management, Fulfillment/Distribution, Production
  • E-tail companies (e.g., Amazon.com, Dell.com)
  • Internet retailers (e.g., Spiegel, JC Penney)
  • Home shopping networks
  • Advertising agencies
  • Magazine, book and record companies
  • Internet marketing companies
  • Supplement program with courses in marketing, advertising or communications.
  • Obtain sales experience through a retail or telemarketing position.
  • Develop strong computer skills.

General Information and Strategies

  • 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.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of trends in retail through newspapers and magazines.
  • Be prepared to work holidays and weekends, typically the busiest times for retailers.
  • Consider developing profi ciency in second or third languages to increase marketability.
  • 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.
  • Consider earning certifications from the National Retail Federation.
  • A degree in Retail/Merchandising may qualifiy one for career opportunities in areas of business outside of retail including marketing, finance, insurance, banking, management, etc. Determine an area of interest and build relevant skills and experiences.

Last modified: Oct 20, 2011

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