Merchandise Associate Job Description: Key Duties, Qualifications, Skills and Salary

When it comes to sales, there are several hands that come together to stir the broth and ensure that a well-cooked meal comes out. And by that, I mean profit. From store associates to salesmen and merchandise associates, these people play their part in the sales process.

Some of these positions might sound more important than others, but in reality, the sales process would be incomplete without them.

Who is a merchandise associate?

A merchandise associate maintains and organizes the storefront by stocking shelves, appealingly arranging merchandise, and building product displays to create a smooth shopping experience. They also interact with customers and may be called upon to assist with any tasks on the sales floor.

Merchandise associates focus on the retail space where customers shop to keep it neat and ensure that the products are easily accessible. Typical job duties include:

  • Stocking new products as they come in or as the shelves get low
  • Organizing the products on the shelves
  • Tidying up the store
  • Answering questions for customers and helping them find products
  • Receiving new shipments
  • Monitoring inventory levels
  • Building and setting up special product displays
  • Helping out in other areas as needed to keep the store running smoothly

There are few qualifications needed to begin a career as a sales merchandise associate outside of a high school diploma, although many employers like to see previous retail or customer service experience. It’s beneficial to develop both creative and spatial reasoning skills to succeed in this job.

Merchandise associate responsibilities

One of the main responsibilities of a merchandise associate is to process returns in an organized and timely manner. They are also responsible for implementing security and loss prevention measures. They must communicate effectively with store management and sales representatives regarding store-level needs and issues.

Additionally, they must maintain a clean and organized store environment, and provide excellent customer service. They may also assist with inventory management, product placement, and project management.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real merchandise associate resumes:

  • Manage e-commerce websites to maintain accurate information and maximize sales.
  • Maximize sales by displaying merchandise and maintaining store cleanliness while executing superior customer service.
  • Assist customers with picking up groceries in the absence of other staff.
  • Create monthly PowerPoint presentations for the team to use in high-level meetings.
  • Conduct market research on the sale of products, identifying consumer trends.
  • Complete reports for products end of life and prepare merchandise for shipments back to the depot.
  • Receive product from shipping area, inspect and pack the product out in adherence to POG.
  • Participate in strategy and tactical development meetings with vendors; sample reviews and sketch reviews.
  • Put out freight in a timely fashion using ladders and store equipment while assisting customers around the store with questions.
  • Set up displays, follow plan-a-grams, do POS (point of sale), and communicate with managers and associates.
  • Process customer sales transactions, returns, exchanges, and collect payment by operating the cash register following POS guidelines.
  • Update and cross-reference line information in PLM and assortment forms when changes are received from designers, vendors, and merchandisers.
  • Maintain merchandise presentations in jewelry and shoe departments.
  • Provide the e-commerce team with product specifications and additional inquiries.
  • Expedite merchandise percentage markdowns and communicate related results and data files to management.

How to become a merchandise associate

Explore education requirements

If you’re interested in becoming a merchandise associate, you must consider how much education you need. Based on real resumes, 41.0% of merchandise associates have a bachelor’s degree. Regarding higher education levels, 2.7% of merchandising associates have master’s degrees.

Even though some merchandising associates have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Develop specific merchandise associate skills

A merchandise associate needs a variety of skills. These include:

  • Ability to process returns, negotiate with management, and communicate with sales representatives.
  • Ability to maintain store cleanliness and uphold store standards.
  • Must be organized and have good time management and problem-solving skills.
  • Must be able to merchandise tasks that drive sales and provide excellent customer service.

Merchandise associates often work in a fast-paced environment and must be able to handle customer complaints and returns. They also need to be able to set up displays and manage inventory.

Research merchandise associate duties & responsibilities

A merchandise associate is responsible for many tasks, including processing returns, negotiating with store management, stocking merchandise, and communicating with sales representatives. They must also maintain store cleanliness and uphold store standards of operations.

Their responsibilities also include assisting customers, performing merchandising tasks to drive sales, and exercising inventory management.

Merchandise associates may also be responsible for providing excellent guest service, and answering customer complaints. They also participate in daily meetings with senior management and visual display teams to develop merchandising strategies.

Prepare your resume

When your background is strong enough, you can start writing your merchandise associate resume. You can use Zippia’s AI resume builder to make the resume writing process easier while also making sure that you include key information that hiring managers expect to see on a merchandising associate resume.

You’ll find resume tips and examples of skills, responsibilities, and summaries, all provided by Zippi, your career sidekick.

Apply for jobs

Now it’s time to start searching for a merchandise associate job. Consider the tips below for a successful job search:

  1. Browse job boards for relevant postings
  2. Consult your professional network
  3. Reach out to companies you’re interested in working for directly
  4. Watch out for job scams

Attached below is a template for a merchandise associate job description:

Merchandise associate job description template

Merchandise associate skills

Common skills that merchandise associates use to do their job include “cleanliness,” “sales floor,” and “customer service.” You can find details on the most important skills below.

Selling skills

This is one of the most important soft skills that a merchandise associate must have. You can see how this relates to what merchandising associates do because “retail sales workers must be persuasive when interacting with customers.”

Interpersonal skills

A merchandise associate’s responsibilities require a friendly and outgoing personality because the job requires almost constant interaction with people.” Merchandise associates also use interpersonal skills in their role according to a real resume snippet: “demonstrate strong interpersonal skills, product knowledge, selling techniques, and maintaining sales floor presentation and visual standards. “

Math skills

Merchandise associates are also known for their math skills, which are critical to their duties. As retail sales workers, they must have the ability to calculate price totals, discounts, and change for customers.

Customer-service skills

To complete certain responsibilities as a merchandise associate, the job requires competence in “customer-service skills.” The day-to-day duties of a merchandise associate rely on this skill, as “retail sales workers must be responsive to the wants and needs of customers.”

For example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies to what merchandising associates do: “assisted customers with merchandise returns while managing inventory and store loss prevention.”

Merchandise associate salary

The average merchandise associate salary in the United States is $33,201. Merchandise associate salaries typically range between $26,000 and $42,000 yearly, with an average hourly rate of $15.96 per hour.

Below is a breakdown of merchandise salary by state, from the highest paying:

Rankascascdescdesc Stateascascdescdesc Avg. Salaryascascdescdesc Hourly Rateascascdescdesc Job Countascascdescdesc
1 New York $42,374 $20.37 4,270
2 Wisconsin $36,514 $17.55 1,729
3 Michigan $35,423 $17.03 2,794
4 New Hampshire $35,454 $17.05 756
5 Hawaii $45,407 $21.83 254
6 Washington $41,382 $19.90 1,651
7 Rhode Island $36,348 $17.48 340
8 Connecticut $35,892 $17.26 1,385
9 North Dakota $36,587 $17.59 192
10 Oregon $39,786 $19.13 792
11 Vermont $36,849 $17.72 188
12 California $38,720 $18.62 9,231
13 Montana $36,547 $17.57 242
14 Idaho $36,730 $17.66 317
15 Maine $33,677 $16.19 539
16 New Jersey $35,844 $17.23 2,584
17 Wyoming $35,253 $16.95 118
18 Ohio $32,303 $15.53 3,377
19 Minnesota $35,498 $17.07 1,413
20 Arizona $34,078 $16.38 1,833
21 Missouri $34,586 $16.63 1,494
22 Colorado $34,939 $16.80 1,836
23 North Carolina $32,344 $15.55 3,283
24 Illinois $34,564 $16.62 3,409
25 Nebraska $34,586 $16.63 412
26 Utah $33,505 $16.11 879
27 Massachusetts $35,235 $16.94 2,355
28 District of Columbia $40,065 $19.26 183
29 South Dakota $34,205 $16.44 162
30 Tennessee $31,391 $15.09 1,884
31 Alaska $35,060 $16.86 112
32 Florida $31,416 $15.10 6,089
33 Kentucky $31,369 $15.08 1,126
34 Iowa $32,549 $15.65 823
35 Alabama $30,769 $14.79 1,456
36 Kansas $32,413 $15.58 705
37 Pennsylvania $30,445 $14.64 4,038
38 Nevada $32,676 $15.71 495
39 Arkansas $31,372 $15.08 628
40 Delaware $30,560 $14.69 460
41 Oklahoma $31,727 $15.25 752
42 South Carolina $30,696 $14.76 1,564
43 Maryland $32,336 $15.55 1,871
44 Virginia $31,336 $15.07 2,889
45 New Mexico $32,291 $15.52 352
46 West Virginia $29,384 $14.13 482
47 Georgia $30,520 $14.67 3,190
48 Mississippi $30,452 $14.64 595
49 Texas $30,650 $14.74 5,936
50 Indiana $29,250 $14.06 2,070
51 Louisiana $28,822 $13.86 978

Merchandise associate vs. associate retailer

An associate retailer is responsible for keeping the sales area up to standard and assisting customers while inside the store’s premises. Most of the tasks revolve around keeping items on shelves clean and well-organized, greeting and offering assistance to customers, responding to inquiries and locating products, and even providing suggestions or recommendations when necessary and in adherence to the store’s policies and regulations.

In other stores and retail outlets, the associate retailer may also process payments and returns while still focusing on customer satisfaction.

There are some key differences in the responsibilities of each position. For example, merchandise associate responsibilities require skills like “visual standards,” “visual displays,” “customer satisfaction,” and “pallets.” Meanwhile, a typical associate retailer has skills in areas such as “retail store,” “math,” “work ethic,” and “good time management.”

This difference in skills reveals the differences in what each career does.

Merchandise associate vs. cashier/merchandiser

A customer service retail associate is responsible for providing the highest customer service for the store’s customers by responding to their inquiries and concerns and recommending goods and services that would fit their needs. Customer service retail associates support the marketing campaigns and promotional strategies of the store by offering and demonstrating products to the customers, as well as arranging stock displays, and monitoring the adequacy of inventories.

They also escalate high-level complaints to management for immediate resolution and assist with product replacement and issuing refunds as needed.