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Visual merchandisers are part of an in-store retail team that designs and maintains store windows and displays so that products look their best. This position requires knowledge of fashion trends and marketing, as well as the skills to track stock and coordinate promotions. The visual merchandising of a store is key to keeping the environment professional, on trend and profitable.
Visual merchandisers often have an undergraduate degree in business, marketing or design. Or, they might have significant experience in retail. Most retail operations will ask for you to have retail sales or marketing experience in order to understand the mission and direction of the store. At large stores, you may be required to have management experience and knowledge of how to coordinate a visual merchandising staff.
The range of duties for a visual merchandiser can vary greatly, depending on the size of the store. At large stores, you may be part of a team building creative displays and arranging promotional materials for store brands. At small stores, a visual merchandiser may handle display, inventory management and even product training for sales associates. The primary duty of a visual merchandiser, though, is to project the desired image of a store and the brands it represents. This is done through keeping the space clean, functional and attractive to stimulate sales.
Visual merchandisers are on the front-line for promotions in stores meaning occasional late nights and early mornings to prepare the store for a large sale. Beyond these times it is typically a 9 to 5 position tracking current stock and upcoming promotions with the larger managerial team. The work also has a physical component in that you may need to be able to move shelving, products and displays on the sales floor.
A visual merchandiser usually works full time and and can make a salary in the range of $35,000 yearly, depending on the size of the retail establishment. The highest wages are commonly with larger department and chain stores in major cities with lots of retail space to arrange and track. Visual merchandisers usually receive a benefits package similar to any other store employee and are paid close to the rate of mid-level managers.
Grace Bordelon is a public relations professional, teacher and writer. She owns her own boutique public relations firm that specializes in the advertising, gaming and software industries. She also teaches at a major design school for fine artists, commercial artists and graphic designers. Bordelon holds a B.A. in international economics and an M.A. in English from Bard College.