The retail business is huge, and many of those who help keep it running smoothly are providing merchandising services. The people you see building displays and stocking shelves may actually be employees of merchandising companies rather than of the store itself.
Many retail services, such as checking inventory and reordering, setting up point of purchase displays and coupon offers, processing recalls and returns, and keeping permanent displays full and tidy, are done by merchandisers. Often store staff is too busy to keep up with all the maintenance and ordering of the many small, independent product lines they carry.
Manufacturers have found it effective to have representatives enter the store for the express purpose of keeping their products fully stocked in an attractive way. They work for the most part through companies that specialize in providing marketing help to major manufacturers. You are almost certainly familiar with those who cannot guide you around a department store because they are working with just one display. They will not be in the distinctive chain uniform, as a rule.
The smiling folks who offer food samples or discounted newspaper subscriptions in the aisles of grocery stores will probably not be working for the store. They will be merchandising, assigned to one or two day promotions to attract new customers to the designated products. The busy crowd completely rearranging the potato chip aisle will be merchandisers doing a ‘reset’.
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Many tasks that merchandisers perform are done on an hourly basis. Stocking, straightening, and reordering greeting cards, gift cards, no contract cell phones, and sunglasses are typical of these assignments. The merchandiser will most probably have a regular monthly visit to certain stores to service the displays of brands that are not distributed by the store itself.
As a merchandiser at the retail level, you will be an actual employee of the merchandising company, designated as a part-time hire. Taxes will be withheld from your paycheck, as opposed to activities such as mystery shopping, when you would be an independent contractor responsible for your own tax payments. You will usually be hired by filling out an online application, receive your assignments online, and report your results and enter orders online.
Paychecks will usually be direct deposits to your bank account, although it is possible to have them sent by mail. The hourly wage is often periodically augmented by bonuses for completion of all work in store and online. Benefits are not extended to part-time hires, and mileage is not generally reimbursed unless you are on special assignment to areas outside your usual range.