Specialized Sales, Merchandising, Marketing Operations

Overview of Sales and Merchandising as a College Major

One of the most important aspects of business for an organization is to ensure that their products and/or services reach consumers. And to do that you need people involved in sales and merchandising. While working in sales may involve inside (i.e. telemarketing) and outside (i.e. door-to-door) selling, merchandising is the promotion of products through how you display and publicize them through visually appealing window displays, websites and catalog design.

Generally sales and merchandising programs fall under the realm of business; therefore, you will be required to take general business classes such as accounting, economics and ethics. In addition, you will need to pursue a course of study that involves courses specifically designed to teach you about sales and merchandising concepts, practices and theory.

Sales and Merchandising Program Curriculum   

The benefit of a college education is to help you understand the techniques for proper sales and merchandising. And though all colleges with programs in sales and merchandising have a set group of courses they require their students to take, here are some of the topics that you might expect to see in a typical curriculum:

  • Retail sales and merchandising
  • Advanced selling techniques
  • Customer service
  • Fundamentals of advertising
  • Buying methodology
  • Analysis of buying trends
  • Purchasing
  • Visual display and merchandising
  • Consumer behavior
  • Brand management

Education Levels Available for a Sales and Merchandising Degree

Probably one of the most popular sales and merchandising degree programs is in fashion design and merchandising. This course of study is available as both an Associate degree and a Bachelor degree program. In addition there are Associate degree programs in retail merchandising, sales, and customer service and Bachelor degree programs in sales and merchandising, sales management, and merchandising management.

However, if you dream of pursuing further education beyond the undergraduate level, you might want to consider a Master degree of Science in merchandising where you can learn about everything from design and development of products to production, promotion, and sales.

Skills Developed through a Sales and Merchandising Degree Program

While much of what you will learn in college will involve understanding sales and merchandising concepts as they relate to products and services that organizations offer to consumers, you also will have the opportunity to develop skills that will help you be successful in your career. These skills will include:

  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Creative and strategic thinking
  • Cost analysis and inventory control
  • Sales strategies and techniques
  • Visual display and merchandising
  • Trend forecasting
  • Working knowledge of computers and a variety of computer programs
  • Gathering, analyzing and presenting information
  • Written and oral communication
Where to Obtain a Sales and Merchandising Degree

Depending on whether you choose a focus for your sales and merchandising degree, you may decide to attend a specialty college such as the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), the International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT), or the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), or you may select a program at a traditional college or university. In addition, there are several online college sales and merchandising programs as well as brick-and-mortar colleges which offer combined classroom and online courses.

Career Opportunities for Sales and Merchandising Majors

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for both sales and merchandising professionals will be best for those with a college degree. The expectation is that job growth will be around 7 percent which is close to the average growth rate for most professions.

When it becomes time to turn your sales and merchandising degree into a career, there will be plenty of industries and positions you might choose. Fashion, retail, financial and banking services, and automotive sales are just a few of the industries which benefit from people with a degree in sales and merchandising. And whether you choose to be a sales rep making calls on buyers and purchasing agents, you choose to manage a retail store or you become the vice president of a corporate sales department, you have a lot of choices with a sales and merchandising degree.

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