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Merchandising Definitions by Retail Role: Are You a Good Example?

The Obvious: Merchandising means something a little different for every retail role.

The Lesson: By understanding the differences in the definition of merchandising between roles, and applying this knowledge to your merchandising practices, you will become a better employee and merchandiser yourself.


What Is Merchandising?


At its most basic level, merchandising is the activity of promoting goods for sale in a retail setting. However, merchandising has different meanings and applications for each job in the retail ecosystem. Each role promotes the product in different ways throughout the product's retail life. 

Having a pulse on how other teammates and players in the retail space affect your merchandising goals can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches.


What Merchandising Means for Each Role



To a Merchandiser, merchandising is all about attention to detail when it comes to the product’s in-store placement. They handle the product but have little to no customer interaction in the retail setting. Merchandisers promote sales by making sure the product looks perfect on display. 

Important Merchandising Tactics:

  • Properly reading and executing planograms
  • Building visual displays
  • Removing damaged and expired product
  • Performing clear, detailed retail audits 


Good Merchandising Example: Quickly reading a planogram and organizing the shelf exactly as specified.


🍓🍋 day 2, in the field #newjob #purityorganic #juicefordays

A post shared by Dave Gorman 🤘🏼 (@themelodicoptimist) on


Bad Merchandising Example: Not paying attention to expiration dates when dealing with perishable goods in a store with a strict FEFO policy.


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Field Sales Rep

To a Field Sales Rep, merchandising is about building goals and executing them throughout the product’s purchase cycle, largely by maintaining strategic relationships. They interact with everyone from manufacturers and wholesalers to brand ambassadors and customers. Reps promote sales by winning new accounts, managing existing ones, and protecting their turf from the competition. 

Important Merchandising Tactics:

  • Performing site visits to current and potential accounts
  • Facilitating orders between retailers and distributors
  • Planning product promotions


Good Merchandising Example: Checking that the prices on shelf tags are accurate during a site visit.


Unreal Candy Price


Bad Merchandising Example: Planning a promotion but not checking to making sure enough product was ordered to meet the increased demand while it runs.


Brand Ambassador

The role of a Brand Ambassador is to execute on merchandising goals by directly interacting with the customer. They are given the product, taught the brand pitch, and are expected to perform with professionalism and personability. Brand Ambassadors promote sales by improving the brand's visibility.

Important Merchandising Tactics:

  • Holding product demos
  • Being educated on the brand and product(s)
  • Effectively communicating with customers
  • Relaying product issues, pain points and feedback from customers gathered during a demo back to a Field Operations Manager

Good Merchandising Example: Maintaining a clean, well-organized booth with proper promotional materials and samples for the duration of a demo.


Bad Merchandising Example: Being unable to tell a customer the main offerings in the brand’s product catalog.


Store Manager

For Store Managers, merchandising is broader. Rather than focusing on one specific product category, a store manager has to think about how the hundreds or thousands of products in the store work together to sell the most merchandise. Store Managers promote goods for sale by making sure the environment they are sold in improves customer conversion. 

Important Merchandising Tactics:

  • Building a strategic floor plan to optimize customer flow
  • Ensuring the store is clean and well-maintained by front-of-house staff
  • Coming up with cross-merchandising opportunities


Good Merchandising Example: Placing eye-catching banners and sidewalk signs by the front of the store to educate customers on current and upcoming promotions.


Whole Foods Promo Banner.jpeg


Bad Merchandising Example: Not increasing the facings for hamburger buns the week before the Fourth of July.


Field Operations Manager

Field Operations Managers are at the back end of merchandising. They are building merchandising strategy and ensuring their field teams have the knowledge and tools to execute them. Field Operations Managers promote goods for sale by making important decisions to ensure the product is in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity, and at the right price.

Important Merchandising Tactics:

  • Effectively communicating with the field team
  • Ensuring the product is ordered at the right time and in the right quantities
  • Educating the field team on new promotions and products
  • Setting the demo and site visit schedules


Good Merchandising Example: Making sure the product your brand ambassador is sampling will be in stock the day they are demoing.


Power to the peaple ✌🏼

A post shared by HIPPEAS (@hippeas_snacks) on


Bad Merchandising Example: Sending brand ambassadors to demo a new offering without educating them on the product and messaging first.



So What?

Knowing the definition and good examples for merchandising across different retail roles, you can better recognize operational pain points. Patching those holes could be as simple as sending an extra email about your promo to a store manager who you know is a bit forgetful, to recognizing your field team needs software to better execute the merchandising strategy.

There is always room for improvement. Now go find those gaps and fill them.

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Sarah Mooney

Sarah is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly. With a background in broadcast journalism, advertising and as a brand ambassador, Sarah is always looking for ways to connect with readers through concise, visual and interesting content. On the weekends you'll find her hitting a trail or at a live show.

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