3 new must-have skills for retail buyers

  • Omnichannel retail 
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Merchants have always played an integral role in the retail industry, understanding the customer and predicting buying behavior.

Retailers have relied on their knowledge and expertise to drive the business forward. The merchant’s role, however, has drastically changed, as the omni-channel is becoming more common, creating a complex and dynamic network of business activities.

According to a recent Total Retail article, a merchant must have three new skills.

  1. The ability to recognize the changing retail landscape. The constantly evolving retail landscape brings to light the need for merchants, who can quickly recognize and run with industry changes. More than ever, merchants need the skills to respond more quickly to changing trends and consumers and adapt to the latest technologies to gain further efficiencies to meet demand. These skills can empower merchants to have a firmer grasp, to understand how trends tie in with their branding, marketing, customer analytics and innovative technology.
  2. Having a better understanding of the customer due to the changing dynamics of the retail industry. “Merchants must now evaluate data analytics, patterns in online shopping behavior, and fluid pop culture and entertainment trends. They must also gauge the impact of macroeconomic conditions on consumption habits. Merchants must integrate all of these data points with their own customer experience to make the most impactful business decisions that affect company direction,” said Frederick Lamster a Partner with executive search firm Battalia Winston. Customers are becoming more individualistic, with their style and shopping habits. Merchants need the knowledge and expertise to combine different elements, ranging from lifestyle to behavioral insights to understand their target market.
  3. Lastly, a jack-of-all-trades quality makes a merchant successful. They need the knowledge and experience in different disciplines such as marketing, design, e-commerce, and planning. “They must also leverage this experience in order to collaborate cross-departmentally, particularly with the marketing and design teams,” Lanster said.  This lets them better understand the company and improve results in other departments by sharing their knowledge with others.

This chart puts the spotlight on the different capabilities required by merchants. Non-merchandising abilities are the skills a senior merchant must also have so they can better address customer demand and market trends. Click here to enlarge chart.

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