What Is Specialized Merchandising and Sales?

Specialized merchandising and sales is a large field that involves a variety of jobs. Learn if a career in the field might be a good fit for you.

portrait of Jackalyn Beck
by Jackalyn Beck

Published September 2, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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What Is Specialized Merchandising and Sales?
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At its core, merchandising is the process of guiding a potential customer to buy a product. Specialized merchandising is a field of work that focuses on selling a certain type of product or service. For example, specialties might include fashion merchandising, tourism promotion, or vehicle sales.

While merchandising and sales are different, they go hand in hand and are often grouped together. Because they both help businesses raise their bottom line and improve sales, there are many career options for people wanting to get into specialized merchandising.

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Where Do Specialized Merchandisers Work?

Where specialized merchandisers work depends on the specific industry they are in. Livestock auctioneers are considered specialized merchandisers; they might spend a lot of time in a sales barn actively auctioning items. On the other hand, someone in fashion merchandising might be in an office choosing styles to showcase.

Most specialized merchandisers work in an office creating strategies or working directly with potential clients. They can also be contractors or full-time employees depending on their specialization.

Industries that specialized merchandisers work in include:

Careers in Specialized Merchandising and Sales

While many people who are in high-level merchandising and sales have a bachelor's degree, many positions only require a high school diploma. Experience is generally more important.

An entry-level job in specialized merchandising and sales might be as a sales representative in your target market. Landing a position like this could allow you to understand your target audience and potential products.

Since time in the industry and experience are key, it typically takes some time to work up the ladder in specialized merchandising. A mid-level job might be as a sales manager or retail merchandiser.

There is a lot of room for salary negotiation and specialization in this field, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that top earners made around $127,490 annually in May 2021. Pay can also vary widely based on commission in sales positions.

Advertising Sales Agent

Advertising sales representatives are professionals who reach out to leads and maintain accounts to sell ad spots. They might sell ads for a newspaper, online business, or blog.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021)
$52,340

Career Outlook
3% projected job growth from 2020-2030

Degree Level
High school diploma or associate degree


Travel Agent

If you love the idea of helping someone plan their dream vacation, being a travel agent might be the career for you. They help people plan trips, including calculating costs, suggesting lodging, and booking reservations.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021)
$43,810

Career Outlook
5% projected job growth from 2020-2030

Degree Level
High school diploma


Sales Manager

Sales managers are typically in charge of the sales team and their outcomes. They might address customer complaints, analyze sales data, and create merchandising plans.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021)
$127,490

Career Outlook
7% projected job growth from 2020-2030

Degree Level
Bachelor's degree

Education

It is common to work in merchandising and sales with a high school diploma, but some positions prefer an associate or bachelor's degree. Some specialties also have specific requirements. For example, people who want to become auctioneers need to attend specialized classes or might complete an apprenticeship.

It is common for people in this field to have a degree in business administration, marketing, or finance. A degree or additional certifications can give you a leg up on the competition.

Some people, especially those pursuing management positions, might also pursue a master's in business administration to increase their earning potential. However, experience is generally the most valuable asset for climbing the ladder in this industry.

Is Specialized Merchandising Right for Me?

Specialized merchandising and sales can be a competitive field and is best suited to people who have a deep interest in a specific industry.

Specialized merchandising could be right for you if...

  • You are interested in a specific niche or industry.
  • You enjoy learning about buyer psychology and how it affects sales.
  • You don't mind working off commission.
  • You have good customer service and communication skills.
  • You like negotiating with customers so both parties get a good deal.
  • You care about people and want to help them address the specific issue your industry solves.

The Future of Specialized Merchandising and Sales

While the future of specialized merchandising and sales varies from industry to industry. Due to increased automation and online sales, some positions in the industry are declining. For example, the BLS expects a 1% decrease in the demand for retail sales workers from 2020-2030.

On the other hand, many positions are slowly growing. The BLS projects that the demand for sales managers will go up 7% from 2020-2030, with an estimated 27,900 jobs created. Because sales are vital to most companies' bottom line, related positions will expand and contract based on how their industry is doing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Specialized Merchandising

Is specialized merchandising a competitive field?

Because specialized merchandising is dependent on sales and many people earn their income on commission, it is a competitive field. However, how competitive it is depends on the industry you are going into and the culture surrounding it.

Professionals can improve their chances of landing high-level positions and increase their earning potential by pursuing continuing education. This includes a master's degree like an MBA or professional certificates.

Can I work in specialized merchandising without a degree?

Yes, you can work in specialized merchandising without a degree. Most positions in the field require at least a high school diploma. Entry-level positions, like retail sales representative, are especially open to people without a degree.

Starting your career with an apprenticeship is one way to earn experience and make connections in the industry without a formal degree. Learners should note that high-paying positions in the field do generally require a formal degree or several years of experience.

How much money can I make in specialized merchandising?

How much a person makes depends on what industry they go into and what position they are in. Median annual salaries can range from $29,180-$127,490, but some positions pay considerably more than others.

In general, sales has a lot of room to grow and earn more based on commission. So it's hard to say exactly how much someone will make in specialized merchandising.

Is specialized merchandising hard?

If you have the right skills and interests, specialized merchandising isn't hard. However, many people struggle with aspects of the field. The key is finding a position and company that fits you well.

In general, successful specialized merchandisers have strong interpersonal skills, an understanding of business practices, and the ability to negotiate effectively. Some specialized merchandising and sales positions also require irregular hours, which some professionals find difficult.

What are specialized sales?

Specialized sales is simply selling products or services in a specific niche. For example, a sales representative for a farm equipment dealership has specialized knowledge of their products, industry, and customer base.

Other examples of specialized sales include automotive, real estate, fashion, and livestock sales. Specialized sales representatives can become experts in their niche through education, personal experience, or on-the-job training. Most specialized sales professionals have a degree of personal interest in the product they market.

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