Getting Prepared

Getting prepared to be a retail merchandiser

Ready to jump in? Though retail merchandising positions vary, here is a

list of common retail merchandising tools of the trade


Though most of these are not necessarily required, you will find that having these will make your job tasks a lot easier to complete. Check out my personal recommendations that you can purchase directly from Amazon by clicking on the names below.

  • Step-Stool / Tool Box – This is an essential tool for serious retail merchandisers. It serves not only as a step- stool for when you need to merchandise top shelves or tall fixtures, but also as a light weight tool box for holding all of your retail merchandising tools.
  • Kneeling Pad – Resetting the bottom shelves of sections can be rough on your knees, so save your knees and get yourself one of these little pads.
  • Knee Pads – If you don’t like carrying a kneeling pad around, you could instead buy some actual knee pads that strap to your knees under or over your pants. There are many different options to choose from.
  • Tape Measure – A must have, this is commonly used for measuring shelf heights and widths.
  • Box Cutter – Another must have , this is commonly used to open boxes containing product that needs to be stocked.
  • Notebook – It’s a good idea to have a notebook handy in case you need to document service information, take notes, take measurements, etc.
  • Pens / Pencils – A notebook is useless without them!
  • Black Sharpies – Commonly used to label boxes containing multiple product that will be placed in the back room, (IE: overstock, discontinued items, etc.).
  • Scotch Magic Tape – This can be very useful to have, (IE: Taping POGS to the shelves, re-sticking a tag that is no longer sticky, etc.).
  • Rubber Bands – Great for when you have a large tag batch that you need to organize.
  • Feather Duster – Used for cleaning the actual merchandise if it’s dusty / dirty.
  • Freezer Gloves – Used when working with items in freezers or dairy coolers to keep your hands warm.
  • All Purpose Cleaner / Microfiber Towel – A bottle of cleaning spray paired with some paper / microfiber towel(s) will be convenient to have when you need to clean shelves or a spill, (IE: broken jar), etc.
  • Rubber Mallet – Commonly used when you come across shelving that needs to be moved, but is stuck.
  • Roll of Blank Tags – These can be used to label boxes, or for temporary item tags while waiting for actual store tags /new tag batches.
  • Screwdriver – Retail Merchandisers commonly run into all sorts of situations where a screw driver is needed, (IE: fixture installs, some types of shelving, sign holders, rack builds, etc.)
  • Plyers – When dealing with shelving and various types of racks, displays, and fixtures, plyers can come in handy if something is bent and needs to be straightened out, or is stuck.
  • Label Scraper – If you don’t like using your fingernails to peal off old item tags from the shelves, this little tool will be helpful.
  • Tablet / Smartphone – A lot of companies actually supply tablets / devices now days, but if not, it’s definitely a great investment to make. You’ll be able to perform job related tasks such as…
    • Receive company email while in the field.
    • Get directions to store locations.
    • Perform research while in the field.
    • Report your work online while in the field.
    • Take photos after you’ve completed yours tasks.
  • Digital Camera – For RSMs / RCMs, photos are usually taken daily! Photos are vital for most clients as they verify the work they hired your company to complete was actually completed. If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, nor are given one by your company, you’ll definitely want to buy a digital camera.

 Merchandising tools - step-stool

One of the biggest tips I can share with you that will help you be a successful retail merchandiser is to be organized and efficient!

Below are some RSM / RCM preparation tasks that will help you accomplish this…

  • Create your work schedule
    • When creating your schedule, try to map it out in the most efficient way possible, (IE: mileage / time-wise), so you are not racking up unnecessary mileage or wasting your valuable time.
      • Group jobs that are close to each other geographically on the same day.
    • Print out your finalized schedule at the start of the work week.
      • This will save you time as you will have your planned routes and store addresses with you all week long.
      • If your schedule could change any day due to service updates or last minute manager adjustments, make sure communication lines have been established clearly between you and your manager so missed work doesn’t occur.
  • Gather your Project Materials, (POS / POP) -
    • Check you services’ visit instructions to see which of your projects require POP materials.
    • If any require the POP materials to be shipped to your home, you need to make sure you are keeping an eye on these mailings.
    • If tracking is available, check the tracking so you know when it’s supposed to arrive.
    • A good rule of thumb - If you don’t receive all of the needed job materials within a week of your scheduled jobs, let your manager know ASAP.
    • Have a designated area in your home or vehicle for POP to be stored. If you don’t, you will run the risk of losing these important materials.
    • Label your POP boxes with a sharpie as soon as you receive them.
      • When you receive a POP box, first figure out which job it goes with, and then write the service name/number, store, date, and time on the box with a sharpie so you will easily know which call each box goes with, and when you will need each POP box.
  • Review your Visit Instructions -
    • A best practice is to review ALL of your visit instructions for the upcoming week in advance.
    • If you have any questions or confusion, ask your manager prior to attempting the job(s), which will save you valuable time.
  • Print out your Visit Instructions -
    • If you are unable to view your visit instructions on a device while in your stores, you will want to print out your visit instructions ahead of time. Most companies will reimburse you for any work-related printing.
    • Having your visit instructions with you while in store is absolutely critical, so you’ll be able review / ensure you are completing all of your objectives 100%.
    • If there are any other related project documents, (IE: Question Tracker, LOA, etc.), you should print those as well.

How to prepare to be a retail merchandiser

As an RSM / RCM, you will commonly be representing your company, your company’s client that you’re performing the job for, and the retailer whose store you are working in. Because of this,

the image you portray, and perception you give is extremely important.

Here are some key tips to remember…

  • Dress Business-Casual -
    • Your company may have a more lenient dress-code policy, but my personal opinion is to always dress business-casual. If you were working side-by-side with a top client who hired your company, do you think you’d be making a great impression wearing an old tee shirt and jeans?
    • For men, common business-casual attire may consist of collared shirts such as polos, dress shirts, sweaters, khakis, slacks, dress pants, comfortable sneakers, or shoes.
    • For women, common business-casual attire may consist collared shirts, dress shirts, sweaters, dresses, skirts, pantsuits, khakis, dress pants, slacks, comfortable sneakers, shoes, or boots.
  • Wear your Company Name badge –
    • Your company name badge immediately gives you credibility within a store.
    • Remember, these store managers don’t know who you are when they first meet you. They are not going to allow you to work in their departments or walk in their back rooms unless they trust you are who you say you are.
    • Wear your company name badge at all times while working in any store.

Along with your image, good

communication skills play a critical role in retail merchandising!

  • Be easy to reach quickly via phone, text, and email.
    • I would strongly suggest that you set up your company email on your smart phone or tablet if your company allows this. You should be able to obtain your company’s server and domain information from their IT dept.
  • Carefully read your company emails.
    • Your manager may email you important service updates, schedule changes, important policy changes, etc.
    • Successful RSMs / RCMs take the time to read each and every company email they receive.
  • Contact your supervisor with any attendance issues.
    • If you’re scheduled for a date / time specific job and you can’t make it due to an emergency or illness, you need to let your manager know ASAP so he/she can find coverage for you.
    • If you’re running late to a date / time specific job, you also need to let your manager know ASAP so he/she can make the client and/or customer aware of the situation.

Suggested Links

Retail Merchandiser in store procedures

In-Store Procedures

Retail merchandiser job tasks

Job Tasks - Introduction

How to read an item tag

Job Tasks - Item Tags

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