The Associate Merchant is an individual contributor responsible for the merchandising and buying of a small product line or directly supporting senior merchandising members to develop product plans in accordance with the season's strategy in a specific product category for the stores and digital channel. He/she may assume full responsibility for merchandise category or department to deliver or exceed volume and profit goals. This position researches customer trends, product history, competitive intelligence, and fashion trends, and analyzes sales, margins, inventories, and markdowns. The Associate Merchant may collaborate with manufacturing on vendor issues, calendar and costing strategies, and may participate in plans for marketing and merchandise presentations.
This position works under general direction and handles issues of moderate complexity. Typically reports to Sr Merchant or Director. May indirectly supervise and coach the Assistant Merchant to achieve performance objectives. Partners with the Merchant in developing a line plan that represents the Brand and is aligned with the seasonal merchandise strategy. Incorporates competitive intelligence, customer intimacy, fashion radar, and business analysis to achieve volume and profit goals.
- Begin to demonstrate an ability to turn insight in to actionable recommendations as it relates to assortment strategy.
- Understands the Brand target customer by tracking and experiencing customer attitude and lifestyle and selecting product that resonates and is relevant with the customer.
- Be in or communicating with stores and/or on campus on a weekly basis to gain customer feedback and business insights.
- Understand the customers lifestyle by staying on top of trends, social media, and pop culture as it specifically relates to the collegiate customer.
- Works with the Merchant to understand the competition through patterning activities that require shopping and conducting regular scans of benchmark competitors to identify opportunities and challenges for in-season business and future season line planning
- Drive and execute client intimacy activities developed by the merchant, sharing insights with merchant leaders while making business recommendations.
- Support the merchant/leader in delivering financial objectives and maximizing volume and profit by leveraging intuitive client insights when building seasonal strategies
- Drive accuracy of product detail through excellent execution and management of assortment documentation and communication
- Support marketing/visual strategy and sales education/store operations through consistency and accuracy in line lists, brand guides, sign requests, product information, and assortment details, reacting with urgency while comprehending overall strategy
- Acts as a customer representative to report on quality, fit and construction issues to Production and Sourcing
- Manage product edits & inputs for multiple floorsets and seasons and by prioritizing tasks and balancing competing priorities.
- Provide product strategy recommendations by gathering competitive intelligence on current competition and trends
- Assist in seasonal hindsighting process through the ownership of color ranking and client insights
- Supports the process of assorting product for each floorset with category Merchant lead
- Understand financial parameters and applications needed to drive results in a fashion retail business
- Manages in-season business by tracking and analyzing sales information in order to identify opportunities to increase sales, improve margins, maximize inventories and decrease markdowns
- Identify opportunities in regional and store performance in support of the merchant/leader; analyze detailed size and market trends and recommendations to impact a book of business
- Providing color and style level insights as to what is working and not working within the assortment.
- Ranking product weekly based on sales performance.
- Understanding and bringing attention to channel-specific selling nuances within the assortment.
- Partners with Merchandise Planning and Allocation to ensure seasonal line plan utilizes historical performance and current business data
- Cultivate and maintain strong cross-functional partnerships with clear and accurate communication
- Constantly communicate with the Field and Campus Reps to understand business results and report findings back to business.
- Actively participate in weekly cross functional meetings and calls.
- Consistently demonstrates open mindedness and free thinking when problem solving.
- Regularly share customer insights and business recommendations in cross functional forum
- Contributes to Merchandise Process Redesign objectives by continually enhancing strong partnerships with Merchandise Planning and Allocation, Design, Production and Sourcing and Marketing.
- Identify and regularly meet with an internal mentor.
- Responsible for driving own development plan
- Actively seek and take action on feedback from all levels to enable growth and development in role.
- Actively participates in the selection, on-boarding and development of Assistant Merchants
- Bachelor's degree in Fashion Merchandising, Business Administration or relevant area
- 2-4 years of experience in merchandising or relevant experience
- Strong understanding of vertically integrated retail operations
- Broad-based business acumen with the potential to grow to the Merchant level
- High intelligence with a true entrepreneurial risk mentality, strong analytical and strategic thinking skills
- Acute sense of brand and customer intimacy
- Acute fashion sense with proven talent to envision and interpret fashion trends
- Proficient in conflict management and problem-solving
- Exceptional ability to bridge and enhance cooperative working relationships
- Strong organizational skills
- Ability to multi-task and prioritize
- Demonstrated ability in communication, presentation, negotiating and influencing skills
- Ability to lead and inspire with unquestionable integrity and trust
- Systems and computer proficiency (MS Office, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel)
An equal opportunity employer, we do not discriminate in hiring or terms and conditions of employment because of an individual's race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status or any other protected category recognized by state, federal or local laws. We only hire individuals authorized for employment in the United States.