How To Become A Merchandiser In Australia: Explained

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Students want to know how to become a merchandiser in fashion.


Do you have a natural knack for design, colour and a remarkable sense of style? Then, you could make a great career as a merchandiser in Australia.


Merchandisers are marketing professionals who develop visually distinct and appealing product displays that can bring sales to the business.


You don't need formal qualifications to work as a Merchandiser. Still, a bachelor's degree in retail management, marketing, sales, or business administration is beneficial. Alternatively, you can complete a Certificate III or IV in Visual Merchandising or a Diploma of Visual Merchandising.


The article will help you learn more about the job role and whether it is the right profession for you or not. It will also teach you about the steps to take, what they do, qualifications, courses, salary, and more.



1. What Is A Merchandiser?


Merchandisers are retail professionals who plan, organise, and install creative product exhibitions in retail stores. They design displays per seasonal change and existing promotional events. Merchandisers either work independently or in a team for retailers of varying sizes.


A few also work with inventory management teams to organise and oversee the store's warehouses. By evaluating sales numbers and estimating product requirements, they ensure that the store meets the customers' needs at all times to maximise sales.


At the same time, they also ensure that the store only carries the required quantities of a product to reduce wastage.



2. What Is A Visual Merchandiser?


Visual merchandisers, also called window dressers, are integral to a brand's sales strategy. They possess excellent creative and communication skills that help them create eye-catching displays that instantly capture customers' attention.


Visual Merchandisers prepare and install floor plans and 3D windows as fixed and internal point-of-sale displays of goods and services to entice customers into retail settings and boost sales.



3. Difference Between A Merchandiser And A Visual Merchandiser


Both merchandisers and visual merchandisers are retail professionals. Their overlapping duties make them look similar but differ in a few areas. 


You must understand the difference, especially when deciding to pursue a career in either.





Merchandisers are analytical professionals who possess good business knowledge to formulate inventory plans.


On the other hand, a visual merchandiser has high creative abilities and design knowledge to develop compelling displays and layouts to encourage sales and a favourable buying experience for customers.



Area of Focus


A merchandiser is majorly involved in sales and inventory management. They may have to travel between warehouses and stores and manage inventory numbers. 


A visual merchandiser primarily focuses on improving the aesthetic or visual appearance of items in a store.


The merchandiser focuses more on the number of items in inventory and sales figures. On the other hand, a visual merchandiser emphasises improving the brand and visual appeal.



4. What Are The Duties And Responsibilities Of A Merchandiser?


A merchandiser takes charge of the display lighting, promotional display material, layout, and other visual features of the store to enhance sales for a seasonal campaign.


Though the exact duties of a merchandiser vary based on the employer and their role, the following are the everyday tasks and duties related to this position:


  • Stock shelves and displace merchandise and machinery in a warehouse.

  • Selection of goods for promotional events and seasonal collections

  • Develop sketches and designs of the proposed layout for consent

  • Use fabrics, signage boards, and props to mount window and in-store displays to demonstrate products and make them more noticeable and attractive.

  • Make lighting arrangements to showcase advertising materials and fixtures.

  • Adjust and update promotional displays to make the best out of them

  • Organise warehouse environment to facilitate access to products 

  • Monitor inventory levels in the warehouse and submit comprehensive inventory reports.

  • Help train in-store staff for marketing campaigns

  • Review sales figure and evaluate sales reports and trends in business. 

  • Create impactful merchandising strategies and collaborate with product buyers, suppliers, and distributors

  • Communicate customer issues to the company and resolve customer issues



5. Duties Of Visual Merchandiser


  • Determine traffic influx, display areas, display products, and floor layout

  • Determine goods for display as per the forthcoming theme based on season, celebration, or brand 

  • Prepare models and design sketches demonstrating layout, colour, and other visual features.

  • Obtain props, signage, tickets, and other accessories to prepare and set up displays and dressing mannequins, in-store, windows, building, and other areas.

  • Arrange lighting to accentuate fittings, exhibitions, and goods

  • Develop floor plans, window displays, and promotions for approval of management

  • Maintain, update, retain, and dismantle displays



6. Merchandiser Skills And Qualities


The daily responsibilities of a merchandiser require a combination of technical and interpersonal skills. 


Employers in Australia look for the following must-have abilities and traits in potential merchandisers:


  • Technical retail knowledge

  • An eye for design

  • Likes to plan exhibitions and style in-store displays

  • Good customer service

  • Creative thinking

  • Good colour and style sense

  • Good design and drawing abilities

  • Good hand-eye coordination

  • Physical fitness

  • Reliability

  • Planning and Organisational skills

  • Computer literacy

  • Analytical mindset

  • Mathematical reasoning

  • Marketing and Negotiation skills

  • Management skills to lead, direct and motivate staff

  • Knowledge of written, visual, and spoken media

  • An understanding of human psychology and behaviour

  • Active listening and verbal communication skills

  • Judgment and decision making

  • Persuasive abilities

  • Like to stay updated with developments and trends

  • Knowledge of associated standards, laws, and regulations



7. Qualifications For A Merchandiser/Visual Merchandiser


Formal qualifications aren't required to work as a Merchandiser in Australia.


However, completing a bachelor's degree in retail management, marketingsales, or business administration is beneficial to get basic conceptual knowledge about the sector.


Alternatively, a Certificate III or IV in visual merchandising / marketing or a Diploma of Visual Merchandising help develop industry knowledge.



8. Steps To Become A Merchandiser/Visual Merchandiser In Australia


If you like the job profile and possess the desired skills, then follow the below steps to become a merchandiser:



Step 1: Complete Your Secondary School Education


The first step to becoming a merchandiser is to complete a secondary school education in English and Mathematics. 


It will help develop your analytical and communication skills. A senior secondary education is optional but can help you become more competent for the role.



Step 2: Gain Industry-Specific Education


To become a general retail merchandiser, obtain a bachelor's degree in Retail Management, Sales and marketing, and Business administration to gain advanced knowledge and enhance your chances of breaking into an entry-level role in the retail segment.


If you want to become a visual merchandiser, earning a bachelor's degree in arts, design, or marketing will help. 


Alternatively, you can complete a 1-year Diploma of Visual Merchandising course. To further progress your career, consider specialising in an exhibition or retail design.



Step 3: Gain Professional Experience


To improve your job chances in this competitive industry, obtaining relevant professional work experience is beneficial. It will help you learn about products, sales trends, and inventory systems.


Those looking for an entry-level role in retail merchandising should start their career as a cashier, warehouse associate, or sales associate


On the other hand, an entry-level position as a retail assistant role would be ideal for aspiring visual merchandisers.



9. How To Advance To A Senior Role in Merchandising


The more experience you gain in the retail segment, the higher your chances of getting employed in advanced roles in the industry.


You can work as a store manager, a team leader, or a visual merchandising manager.



10. How To Become A Fashion Merchandiser In Australia?


Fashion merchandising involves a multitude of tasks within the fashion industry. The essential functions include purchasing materials from suppliers, developing, manufacturing, and promoting merchandise.


Fashion merchandisers usually work in retail clothing stores and fashion houses to supervise the designs of clothing and accessories or costume suppliers. 


Moreover, they estimate fashion trends, implement store layouts, and collaborate with designers.


If you are interested in becoming a Fashion Merchandiser, then follow these steps:



Step 1: Develop Skills


To make a successful career in fashion merchandising, you must be detail-oriented and possess effective communication and customer service skills.



Step 2: Get Qualified


The next step is to get the required education to qualify for an entry-level role. However, most of the employed fashion merchandisers in a starting position have a high school degree.


Getting a bachelor's degree in Arts, Design, and Marketing or a Certificate in Fashion Retailing, Marketing & Merchandising will give you a competitive advantage and improve your chances of job success.


Suppose you have experience in sectors related to fashion merchandising, such as a sales associate, a cashier, or an assistant manager in a retail store. In that case, it will give you an edge over your competitors and boost your career prospects. This will make it easier to enter the fashion merchandising industry.



11. How To Become A Visual Merchandiser With No Experience?


Visual Merchandising is challenging, but with your passion, you can make a worthwhile career in this creative and commercial sector. Here are the tips and guidance on how you should start your journey as a beginner VM:


  • Step 1: Gain the necessary merchandising qualifications, i.e., a bachelor's degree in Arts/Design/Marketing or a Diploma in Visual Merchandising. Once you do this, you are qualified to work as a VM in Australia.


  • Step 2: Enrol in a retail internship program that allows you to learn and earn simultaneously.


  • Step 3: Familiarise yourself with Mobile Merchandising Software, which you will use while performing your daily tasks.


  • Step 4: Start working on an entry-level "sales assistant" position in a local retail outlet and store. Learn as much as you can about in-store management activities.


After gaining experience and exhibiting hard work, many employed professionals get promoted to higher roles like an "Area VM". The more you get experienced, the more you will advance your career and earn money.



12. Visual Merchandising Courses And Certifications


The Certificate in Visual Merchandising provides a comprehensive summary of the practices and principles involved in visual merchandising. It also provides the much-needed skills and knowledge to work in the exhilarating visual merchandising industry.


You will understand the fundamental design principles of VM, learn how to design and manage store promotions, and oversee and coordinate store display layouts to current merchandising standards.


The course will also teach you about the significance of visual merchandising and how it influences the retailer's success. Students learn to create alluring visual displays to increase retail sales for product promotions. They will understand ways to connect to the shopper's senses and compel them to buy a product.


This is an ideal course for those who want to enter the fashion industry. To become one of the following: a fashion buyer, marketing managersales representative, or merchandiser or open their fashion boutique or fashion-related business.


This part-time course provides in-depth knowledge in the following: visual merchandising, fashion buying, trend forecasting, fashion merchandising plans, and fashion marketing.



Diploma of Visual Merchandising


This nationally accredited course is ideal for those who wish to transform their interest in retail into a rewarding and creative profession. 


The course helps develop advanced knowledge and proficiency to progress as a visual merchandiser in the retail and events industry.


A student learns about creative drawings and plans to convey ideas effectively. Further, they will learn about VM concepts, merchandise displays, VM signage, and health and safety standards.


Following are the training institutes that offer this course in Australia:




13. What Professional Bodies Are Related To Merchandising?




14. Work Environment of a Merchandiser in Australia



Nature of Work


From creating visual layouts and product displays to logistics and warehouse organisation and inventory management, the duties and responsibilities of merchandisers in the supermarket are diverse and varied.


A merchandiser's job is physically demanding as it requires standing for extended durations, lifting, displacing items, and arranging products at different display locations.


They spend a lot of time logging warehouse and shipment data for a specific product. People use this data to report it to other inventories.


Furthermore, dealing with unpleasant people also forms part of merchandising profession.





Merchandisers majorly work in retail and department stores managing the product displays or at a product vendor firm travelling between different stores and unloading products into the store's warehouse. 


Work settings for a visual merchandiser include commercial environments such as hotels, fashion stores, art galleries, airports, and more.



Work Hours


Around 50% of merchandising workers are employed full-time and work for 42 hours per week. This shows that the profession offers flexibility to work both part-time and full-time.


They sometimes work overtime, on public holidays, and even overnight on occasions like festivals or promotional events when the store display and layout require modifications.





The average age of merchandising workforce in Australia is 36 years. Out of the total employed population, 85% are female merchandisers. 


This shows that merchandising is a female-dominated profession and ideal for women who wish to enter this profession.



15. Employment Opportunities For A Merchandiser In Australia


Visual merchandisers are mainly engaged in developing floor plans and 3D displays of services and goods to maximise profit and sales in the business.


Their common areas of employment include:


  • Retail stores

  • Fashion departments

  • Homeware departments

  • Museums

  • Airports

  • Hotels


The entry-level, mid-level, and experienced job roles for a merchandiser in Australia are as follows:


  • Sales associate

  • Warehouse Associate

  • Cashier

  • Store manager

  • Retail Assistant

  • Merchandiser

  • Merchandise manager

  • Visual merchandiser

  • Event visual merchandiser

  • Visual merchandise stylist

  • Marketing Manager



16. How Much Does A Merchandiser Earn In Australia?


Based on the last three months' data, a merchandiser in Australia typically earns between $50k and $60k per year. The national average merchandiser salary is around $55,000 a year. Their weekly pay comes to about $1,246.


The exact merchandiser's salary in Australia depends upon their geographic location, experience, training, and employer. Merchandisers receive their pay either hourly or annually based on the employer they work for.


The average visual merchandiser salary in Australia is approx. $65,508 a year or an equivalent of $33.59 per hour. Where the entry-level merchandiser draws $59,000 a year, highly experienced workers earn up to $80,000 annually.



17. Job Outlook Of Merchandisers In Australia


Based on the Government's Job Outlook website, the merchandising industry projects a strong demand in retail, wholesale, scientific, manufacturing, and technical trade.


Merchandising is a small profession, with around 5,900 workers employed as visual merchandisers in Australia. A large chunk of employed professionals works in Victoria. New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland are the top recruiting cities in Australia.


Looking at their education, around 25% of employed visual merchandisers have a Year 12 education, 23% hold a diploma degree, and 17.9% have Bachelor's degree. This shows that a Year 12 education and diploma course are the essential qualifications to start working in merchandising.



18. Conclusion


Visual merchandising is among the most valued assets of any retailer. It can help loyal customers enhance the purchasing experience and strengthen a brand's image to drive more sales.


In addition to courses, consistent hard work, integrity, and good customer service will help you succeed in this challenging yet gratifying and creative field.


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