Careers! Professional Development for Retailing and Apparel Merchandising

1. Career opportunities in retail and apparel merchandising are quite varied, are they not?

Yes, careers in the retail and fashion industry are extremely varied. There are opportunities for analytical positions, such as merchandise allocators and buyers, and very artistic and creative positions such as visual merchandisers and designers. Additionally, some positions require work directly with consumers and other positions involve communications and interactions in a business-to-business format. Many positions combine creativity and analysis, and all positions involve some degree of problem-solving -- which makes the careers exciting.

2. Some individuals shy away from this line of work. What would be the most prevalent reason for this?

Retail is historically challenging because of 'long and odd hours.' That is, retailers are open when customers want to shop, which includes weekends and holidays. This is true of store based position, but also the case with most career positions today. Many retailers and companies that offer corporate positions are striving to make the work environment positive for their employees - and that means offering good benefits with vacation, days of work per week, and good salaries.

3. Talk me into a career in retailing.

Retailing is a career where you can have fun. In addition, you are rewarded for the success you achieve in a direct way; that is the more you sell, the more you earn. Every day is a new challenge, with opportunities to solve problems and be part of an exciting, fast tempo environment. Depending on your skills, talents, and interests, you can be involved in product development or design, wholesaling, buying, allocation, or store and other retail operations.

4. Can you give us a glimpse into the 'back room' of a career in retail and apparel merchandising?

There are so many different ways that careers can go in this field, it is difficult to say what a typical 'back room' looks like. On the surface to customers and store guests merchandise is often displayed in very orderly fashion. Behind the scenes professionals are working months in advance to plan the merchandise style and color schemes and to prepare advertising and promotional campaigns. In addition, work with manufacturers, usually overseas, is ongoing to make sure that merchandise is made to the retailers specifications and to ensure that it will be delivered in time for its prime selling season. A myriad of complications can (and often do) arise so problem solving is an ongoing challenge!

5. How good are the chances for getting a promotion in this field?

Promotional opportunities are excellent in this field especially in store management because there are many more stores per company that there are corporate headquarters. Employees who work hard and achieve success are positioned well to advance in lucrative careers in retailing and apparel merchandising.

6. What are some of the hints about starting out in a career in retailing and apparel merchandising?

Get a job at a retail store and learn how to work effectively with customers!

While you are there, ask questions, volunteer to participate in all the aspects of store operations that you can, and let people know that you are looking to build a career. Be professional at all time, and the world is your oyster.

7. Can you tell us a success story you know about?

Our book, 'Careers! Professional Development for Retailing and Apparel Merchandising,' includes profiles of professionals in the industry. These all illustrate success stories.

8. What is the best part of this work?

It is a new adventure every day no two days are the same.

9. What is the biggest change in this industry over the past five or six years?

The actual retailers who are the 'big players' in the industry have changed dramatically. There used to be many more independent department stores, and department stores drove the customer service and apparel merchandising offering in the market. Today, consolidations have changed the face of departments stores. Fewer department stores means fewer corporate buying offices for aspiring merchandising professionals; at the same time specialty stores have become the 'new' excellent buyer and manager training grounds and have recently led the fashion industry in sales and profits. In addition, the big box retailers have changed the way that we think about retail operations today. Customers have changed the way they view 'where' to shop for fashions and other items. Many customers are comfortable with Internet shopping, which has also created more options for merchandising careers.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add for readers of this website?

I don't have any other topics to add thanks for the opportunity to share J ap