Advertising moves people toward goods; merchandising moves goods towards people.

Morris Hite

What is Merchandising?

You will find many definitions of merchandising by searching google, primarily relating to in-store or brick and mortar merchandising:


Everything you do to promote and sell your products once the potential customer is in your store. When we talk about merchandise, we are talking about products available for sale, typically in a retail setting.

The Retail Doc:

Covers everything from how you visually arrange your merchandise to the traffic patterns in your store, how you display items to promote add-on sales, to signage, and for apparel retailers – the power of the fitting room.

The Art Institutes:

The science of making sure that you have the right goods available at the right price, time, and amount, in exactly the right places.


Sales promotion as a comprehensive function including market research, development of new products, coordination of manufacture and marketing, and effective advertising and selling.

What Is Merchandising?

Merchandising is having the right products (at the right time), at the right price, at the right place, with the right promotion, with the right people.

During my undergraduate studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), merchandising was defined as having the right products (at the right time), at the right price, at the right place, with the right promotion, with the right people.  Also called the 5 P’s of Merchandising or the 5 P’s of Marketing.

After 12+ years later of working in the retail industry, this high level definition absolutely still applies today.  Because of enhancements of technology and the rapid emergence (more like hostile takeover) of e-commerce shopping, the strategies involved in executing each area of merchandising are ever evolving.

The role of a merchant (also known as a buyer) is to forecast consumer demand, and then strategically transform that demand into a product assortment that simultaneously satisfies the consumer and maximizes sales and margin.

The 5 P’s of Merchandising:


Product is the good or service that you are selling.  Your product assortment is the core of your business operations and has the biggest impact on both your sales and margin.   Product design and sourcing should be happening constantly to ensure you are in front of the emerging trends, that you have the opportunity to create your own trends, and to ensure you always have a well-rounded assortment.  Trade shows are an amazing resource for finding new fabrics, trends, products, vendors, and for evaluating the pulse of your industry.  (Click here to see the 2019 Fashion Trade Shows that should be on your calendar).



Price is the dollar amount you sell your goods or services for.  Because of the elasticity of e-commerce retail, having a comprehensive and competitive pricing strategy is more important than ever before.  Your pricing tells potential customers your target demographic, what brands you are positioning yourself against, and the level of quality they should expect.



Place is where your goods or services are manufactured, distributed, visible to potential customers, and sold.  Your products must be placed in all of the spaces your target market shops, lives, dines, works, and plays.  Your brand positioning will help guide you on what places are aligned with your brand’s aesthetic and mission.



Promotion is the strategy you utilize to increase brand awareness, correlating to increased sales.  Examples of promotion include social media, advertising, public relations, events, and direct marketing.  There are people around the world who will fall in love with your products, and promotion exists to reach them, intrigue them, and convert them into customers for life.



People refers to all individuals and companies involved in your business operations.  This includes your staff, vendors, contractors, and customers.  The experience inside your organization has a direct impact on the external customer experience.  Our staff are our internal customers, and as a leader, a big portion of my role is people management.  Your collective output as a company is only as effective and rewarding as the more and productivity levels of each team member.

DeAnna McIntosh, Chief Global Strategist at The Affinity Group International, is a driven, entrepreneurial, and creative brand strategist with a strong eye for design, and over 13 years of progressive experience in merchandising, marketing, and event management. Her proven results as a strategist for numerous Fortune ranking retailers will drive tangible growth for your business from day one.

Leave a Comment