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Retailing/FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods)

Key employers: There are many types of retailers from Supermarket chains (Tesco, Sainsbury, Aldi), Fashion Stores (M&S, Arcadia which owns Top Shop brand), Luxury (Burberry, LVMH), and Online (Asos). Most of these brands have a high street store and online presence and do a mix of businesses. There are also different roles. Other key employers are FMCG companies (Unilever, Proctor and Gamble). These are products that consumers aim to replace frequently. These include items such as toiletries, food, soft drinks, food and consumer electronics such as mobile phones and MP3 players.

– Buying

A Buyer is a pivotal role in retail, responsible for inspiring customers with an incredible breadth of smart products and experiences. Goods include technology, fashion, make-up, furniture, etc. (to name a few). Purchasers are well in tune with current economic demand and trends. They are also innovators, creating a feeling that a new commodity class is a fundamental consumer need.

Patrons are given a wide variety of brands from suppliers to ensure the best products are available for customers, both in-store and online. It’s essential for Shoppers to know their customers inside out, predict what the next popular aesthetic will be, and adapt the newest fashions for their particular audience.

There’s also a strong business element to the role. Buyers are continually negotiating for the best deal, so it’s the perfect position for graduates with the right mix of creativity and marketable competencies. Broadly speaking, you’ll provide support to your department, ensuring that your brand stays ahead of the game. A pivotal part of this profession is maintaining inventory to supply customer demands continuously without gaps in fulfilling orders; as well as keep up with distributors of the product in question to ensure consumers receive their purchases.

Not to be forgotten is smooth synergy with the Advertising team as they are vital to creating the image that you as a buyer envision. Retail is a racing business, and to reach the top, each part of the machine must move in synchronicity, guided by the management of the Buyer in arbitrating discussion between all parties involved.

Purchasers additional initiate test runs in the market of new products to ascertain whether consumer demand is high and test for optimum market prices. Buyers must always keep informed of their competitors’ moves so as to stay ahead of the game and bring their retailer the majority of profits. You will keep up-to-date with industry developments – including competitor plans and performance – and by heart the latest sales figures for your department- including your best and worst sellers. In the fashion industry, a fashion degree or relevant work experience is necessary but not in other parts of the industry.

In supermarket retailing, you could also be a Food Buyer. This is about scouring the land for everything from the choicest cuts of meat, the most piquant bread and the most decadent desserts. You’ll help decide what goes on shelves. You’ll work in close collaboration with Food Technology and Development teams to keep stores stocked with the most appropriate foods aligned to your brand, and with both suppliers and manufacturers. Although some food or retail experience would help, it’s not essential. More important will be your diagnostic talents, economically propelled work ethic and an eye for products that could be future stars.

– Merchandising

Product publicity is interwoven with inventory choices as the desired commodities should be in store (in the optimum shelf space) at the right time of year. Merchandising and Purchasing have a symbiotic relationship. Purchasers (and inventors) choose the progression and decide the brands that customers will be able to choose from; while Advertisers envision which consumer demographics require the particular product’s supply.

This involves understanding customers’ trends and the factors that drive them – such as specific demographics, footfall variations, selling location, the scale of the event, the probable consumer needs given the scenario (e.g. weather and music festivals). From the long-term solutions worth investing in, to fads; Merchandisers provide insights to make intelligent decisions about the items in stock.

Each merchandiser is focused on a distinct retail area, hence, performing better with increased quantity and quality on returns due to complete knowledge of the ins and out of the sector. These are more so sub-specialized into geographically and statistically similar regions (e.g. McDonald’s has unique burgers for the Indian sub-continent unavailable in the USA). Consumers are grouped together to exploit the individual differences of a demographic sector. For example, a town with mostly elderly folk would benefit less from video games versus perhaps literature.

Ever-changing consumer habits will keep your analytical skills agile – and you’ll be contributing from the start. Balance demand without causing shortage or excess of inventory, ascertain shelf space allocation, decide the distribution of all retail products in a store, create in-store promotions of hot-sellers, and magnify profits per square foot of discrete product.


To successfully carry out these tasks, you have to assess the previous aspects of consumption in your emporium, analysing the capacity of the store as well as the demographic of purchasers. With all this information, your products can be chosen based on size, colour and numbers. Your role (in tandem with the Wholesaling and Purchasing team) is ascertaining vital choices about cost appraisal methodologies, keeping up profits, and managing commerce plus publicity.

A merchandising, business/analytical related degree is ideal, although most retailers would consider other degrees if you have retail experience.

– Store management:

Would you like to manage your very own store? You’ll probably start as part of the Store team, honing your team leadership skills and learning how to maximise sales in one section – Beauty, Men’s Fashion or TV and Audio.  After one section, and, if you do well, you progress to reach senior store management level.

– Marketing

Fundamentally, it’s about driving the brand. You will need to work across entire marketing mix including the customer insight unit, design studio, brand management, product presentation, relationship marketing, global campaigns, online advertising, product lobbying, various affairs to get the word out about a commodity. Marketing involves the psychology of a consumer, as primarily, you are portraying the illusion of need that the Buyers would like Consumers to believe in. It requires creativity, a dynamic work pace, and energy. A facade of urgency is turned into a reality through branding.

Enabling customer choice in the right place and at the right time by creating a build-up towards milestones/events, eventually capitalising on them is the essence of Advertising. For example, the furore created before national and international holidays such as New Year’s Eve. It will also involve working with advertising agencies to create inspiring and innovative marketing campaigns for customers across multiple media forms. These operations create authentic and engaging connections with external and internal communities, through inspiring brand and business stories.Mass communications consist of teams of specialists covering Engagement Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social Media, Public Relations, Corporate Relations and VIP, Internal and Partner Communications, Events, Copy, Media Buying and Planning, and Partner Marketing.*8

– Supply Chain

This is a large, dynamic and multifaceted area with diverse functions, such as Product Engineering, Sourcing, Manufacturing and Customer Fulfilment, etc. that guide the end to end journey of the product — i.e. from creation to the client. Alongside, sourcing raw materials to delivering the final product, Supply Chain gets brands to customers and plays a role in sustainability, involving learning about ‘demand planning’, and using models as well as market knowledge to forecast sales. After collecting this data, it is used to ensure requirements are met. You will need to optimise the cost and quality of what is bought through responsible sourcing of materials, packaging and non-production items.

July 11th, 2017

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