Do You Really Need a Merchandise Manager
To produce profits, you first must scrutinize overhead expenses. And since payroll often accounts for most overhead expenses, each staff position within your catalog must be justified and optimized.
With current trends focused on keeping employment as flat as possible, it may be tempting to either eliminate a merchandise manager’s position or to not add one as your company grows. But I argue that this should be one of the key positions in your company. Remember, you are, after all, a merchant. Your catalog exists to sell products. All the rest of the things you need to do are in support of your core competency of selling products.
Therefore, having the right kinds of products at the appropriate prices and times will be paramount to your success as a merchant.
There’s no better way to ensure this success than by focusing your company’s efforts on its products. Even more important than product selection is the overall merchandise direction, which includes:
- the product categories and sub-categories you offer;
- the amount of space given to each category in every catalog effort;
- the appropriate price point distribution;
- the total pages of each catalog;
- the way in which your catalog is organized; and
- the current trends that should be leveraged.
All of these issues should be addressed by a merchandise manager. I use the term “merchandise manager” figuratively. Given the size of your operation, the merchandise manager can take several forms. If you have a small operation, for example, you might have one chief merchant who also may be the president or a vice president of merchandising. Or your merchandise manager and buyer could be the same person. If that’s the case, such a person must play both roles distinctly.
As your company grows, this role will become more fractured and eventually will take the form of multiple merchandise managers overseeing buyers in single categories or groups of product categories.