An Inside Look at Merchandising with Lucy, M&S Womenswear Merchandiser
In this interview, Lucy provides insight into the world of Merchandising at M&S, shedding light on the meticulous planning, strategic decision-making, and the exhilarating moments that come with the territory.
Hi Lucy, tell us more about your role as a Merchandiser for Womenswear at M&S
My job is all about getting the right stock, in the right place, at the right time which is a bit of a mantra among us Merchandisers. We plan how many options we have in the range at a particular time, and how many we’re ordering of each item. In short, my role is to ensure that our customers can find what they want, when they want it!
We also work with many different teams across the business to drive the business unit strategy. We work collaboratively to set financial targets and revisit them across the season to drive the profitability of the department. This could involve running and analysing data to understand the success of a product and ensure that we learn lessons for the future.
What’s your favourite part about your role?
I love it when new samples arrive in the office and we get to see the Designers' visions come to life. Once the samples arrive, we start planning our future ranges – which styles and colours we are buying, how much we are buying and which stores we want to sell it in.
It’s such a high when things go well – ideally everything arrives at the right time, they sell in the size ratio that you bought them, stay in good stock for exactly the right amount of time, before going into the sale and achieving high sell throughs. We want everything we buy to boost customers style perceptions of M&S and be profitable. It’s also great when the weather is on your side – cold in October when Coats launch, and warm in April when we launch our high summer styles.
My favourite meeting of the year is Winter Range Review when we present the new sequin, party and cold weather product to our leadership team. It's the biggest season so it’s important to get it right!
I also love when something new hits down on the website, or in stores and it exceeds our expectations on sales. A couple of years ago, we had our first pair of sequin trousers go online and they got a great reaction. This gave us the confidence to go back and buy in big volumes the next year. It’s now one of our biggest lines in the Winter season!
What your proudest career moment so far?
It has to be presenting our FA Suiting range to all of my colleagues at the Clothing & Home huddle before the 2023 Womens World Cup. 700 people including the Managing Director watched our team where we explained the process of planning the range. It was like being a celebrity in the office that day!
Why did you originally apply for a job in Merchandising at M&S?
After being with another company for a long time, I had worked my way up from a Merchandising Admin Assistant to a Merchandiser. I wanted to learn new ways of working, and new Merchandising skills in another large company. M&S has always been the pinnacle of retail industry because of its size and great product so I went for it!
What makes M&S special?
When you tell people you work at M&S, you very quickly realise that everyone has an opinion on the brand, and they all want to share it with you! Everything from their favourite chocolate biscuits to the price of the knickers and the fit of the jeans.
There is no role in the business I would rather do than be a Merchandiser. It’s a very exciting time to be working on Womenswear, and the team set the standard in terms of being all in it for the customer, owning it and getting it done. I am really looking forward to what’s to come for M&S!
Learn more about a career in Merchandising with M&S here.
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