Buying and Merchandising Assistant

Occupational overview

This occupation is typically found in the retail sector, across a range of different types of companies and employers such as those selling direct to the public/consumer and those selling to trade. It is also found across different types of retail operation, including those who trade from traditional stores, those who are exclusively on-line, and those who operate through a variety of channels.

Buying assistants will support new product selection and development and ensure that these new products are accurately added to the employer’s product portfolio in line with the supplier agreement. They will normally be responsible for the testing and delivery of product samples.

Merchandising assistants collate, distribute and analyse sales and performance reports, identifying trends, trading patterns and highlighting anomalies. They communicate and escalate findings appropriately, supported by a range of business solutions. They may also place supplier orders and maintain product availability across the business and for monitoring products to ensure on time delivery and availability to agreed locations.

Buying and merchandising assistants work collaboratively to contribute to the delivery of department/company sales and profit targets. They will normally report to a more senior member of the buying or merchandising team, this may vary with the size of the employer.

In this occupation, individuals would typically interact with a wide range of internal and external colleagues, including but not limited to, their wider buying and merchandising teams, designers, manufacturers, suppliers, distribution centres, stores, marketing, finance and IT departments. This is normally an office-based role, but may involve remote working, travel to stores, trade fairs, supplier meetings etc.



  • How to develop an operational or strategic approach to buying and / or merchandising
  • Industry standards, regulations and legislation relating to the ethical and sustainable sourcing, purchasing and sale of goods to ensure compliance
  • Product lifecycle from development to customer and the critical path approach to support the buying and merchandising process
  • Principles of buying and merchandising and the specific role of each
  • The brand position within the market, which includes both UK and global markets, retailer types and trading models
  • Effective methods of negotiation, and how they relate to the organisation’s strategy, goals and ethical stance
  • Key aspects of the sector in respect of global and domestic trading patterns
  • Principles of working within strategic operational buying and merchandising frameworks
  • Effective methods of communication to achieve operational success
  • The principles of internal trend analysis and forecasting
  • The principles of undertaking competitor analyses
  • The different purchasing habits of customers, seasonality and the different customer journey across all purchasing channels
  • The importance of keeping up with current trends within the industry
  • The importance of customer profiles and how they impact buying and merchandising operations
  • The principles of team dynamics and relationships in order to achieve individual and organisational goals
  • The importance of coaching and mentoring to support the development of the buying and merchandising teams
  • The goals and targets of the business, the drivers of performance and the contribution of the team in order to achieve these
  • The key performance indicators of the department, their performance and how to individually contribute to their success
  • The range and impact of external factors such as currency fluctuation and global suppliers have on profit margin and costs
  • The impact of stock planning and densities on profitability and how it aligns to organisational/brand strategy
  • Factors affecting and impacting seasonal planning to ensure availability of appropriate products and to drive profit


  • Uses their market/industry knowledge to contribute to new product development and innovation
  • Contributes to the building of customer focused ranges to meet the brand identity of the business
  • Ensures product quality and legal compliance by working within industry standards, regulations and legislation to source, purchase and sell goods
  • Ensures accurate implementation of the critical path prioritising actions accordingly
  • Negotiates in a manner that balances the need for a sound financial return, with the need to operate ethically, honestly and fairly
  • Monitors agreed performance targets with suppliers to manage ongoing supplier relationships
  • Applies the organisation strategy to buying and/or merchandising to ensure strategic objectives are met
  • Applies an ethical and sustainable approach to the buying and merchandising process in line with policies and procedures to achieve legal compliance
  • Ensures the agreed route to market is delivered and maintained successfully so that objectives are met
  • Works with external and internal departments (for example, marketing, distribution, suppliers) to build relationships to drive sales activity and support the delivery of the business objectives across all channels
  • Uses data to support decisions to influence both the strategic and operational direction of the buying and/or merchandising approach.
  • Demonstrates accurate application of systems in analysing data (for example, customer trends, buying patterns, stock rotation and levels)
  • Analyses and presents business data to support achievement of business strategies, brand and KPIs
  • Evaluates commercial performance to support proposed actions for both good and poor product performers
  • Demonstrates anticipation of customer buying and product patterns to forecast future demand
  • Articulates relevant ideas and opinions towards trends and competitor activity so that opportunities may be identified
  • Applies customer profile/trend data to inform the development of a range, products and services
  • Formulates and communicates customer propositions
  • Develops self and individuals to improve personal and team performance and capability
  • Demonstrates commercial buying and merchandising within a financial framework
  • Operates in a manner that produces the required financial rate of return for the business
  • Ensures effective stock management to support the delivery of the sales and profit forecasts
  • Coaches and mentors new/less experienced colleagues


  • Is creative thinking, and enthusiastic with a positive and professional attitude
  • Is confident accountable and pro-active
  • Shows tenacity and is prepared to take risks
  • Is resilient, organised with an eye for attention to detail
  • Is flexible, agile and adaptable to changing markets
  • Operates within professional code of ethics
  • Is an ambassador for the business

Entry requirements

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment.  For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.


Typically, 18 months.

Professional qualifications

This is a level 4 apprenticeship.

Originally published on, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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