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Merchandise Planner
Merchandise planners are responsible for the planning and control of the product range of a retail company. They are key players in the purchasing environment of a retail company. This is a high profile activity which involves financial seasonal planning of sales, stock levels, production requirements and the control of the purchase relative to planned levels, for example colour, fabric and branch / store volumes.

Merchandise planners analyse and forecast trends financially, as well as product trends, through the use of computerized systems, they lead and coordinate the activities of the distribution team which involves reviewing products’ performance at a branch and manipulating available stock.

Merchandise planners liaise closely with fashion buyers, as well as other buyers, senior management, manufacturers and operational staff. They are responsible for selecting merchandise, planning long-term buying strategy and negotiating price structures, delivery dates, specific merchandise requirements and contracts.

Since much of the ordering has to be done in advance, they also have to be intelligent gamblers. The success of a retail company depends to a large extent on its buyers. Most of their time, apart from that spent on negotiations, is occupied by following the fashion trends, reading magazines and keeping up with overseas fashions of every description.

Not every foreign manufacturer produces items which are appreciated by the diverse population of South Africa, but merchandise planners are able to glean information from their advertising campaigns.

Satisfying Aspects
- variety of work
- working with people
- helping to set trends
- challenges of picking the right merchandise and marketing items

Demanding aspects
- trying to keep sales increasing by wise selections and keeping the right quantities of stocks
- long and irregular hours
- personality clashes that sometimes occur in a competitive, fast-paced field
- the need to travel frequently

- entrepreneurial skills and business orientated
- excellent people skills
- calm temperament
- highly numerate, confident and determined
- an inquiring mind

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: depends on course to be undertaken
Recommended Subjects: Mathematics, Economics, Business Studies

Degree: BA, BCom or BBusSc, an advantage - most universities

Diploma: various diploma courses - most universities of technology

A qualification as a chartered secretary or a management accountant, which is offered by the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants at various universities of technology and other training centres, can also be considered.

Retail and wholesale companies

Any head office of larger retail companies