Internet Merchandise Manager Careers: Salary & Job Description

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An Internet merchandise manager's mean annual salary is around $112,000. Is it worth the education requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about job prospects to find out if becoming an Internet merchandise manager is right for you.
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Internet Merchandise Manager Careers: Pros and Cons

An internet merchandise manager, also called an internet purchasing manager, aids in the implementation and planning of online sales promotion programs, which requires collaboration with Web designers, marketers and sales personnel. Review the pros and cons of an Internet merchandise manager career to find out if it's right for you.

Pros of an Internet Merchandise Manager Career
Mean annual salary of $112,000 is higher than the national average for all occupations ($47,000 in May 2014)*
Can work in any industry that sells products (nondurable goods, electronics, durable goods, retail)*
Opportunity for advancement to merchandising director positions*
Wide variety of tasks both online and in the office (analyzing website data, planning online campaigns, working with sales personnel and Web designers)**

Cons of an Internet Merchandise Manager Career
Slow job growth (two percent from 2012-2022)*
Many positions require five or more years of e-commerce and merchandising experience**
30% of purchasing or merchandise managers worked overtime as of 2010*
Handling multiple online merchandising tasks can be stressful**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **CareerBuilder.com.

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Internet merchandise managers analyze current consumer trends to determine which items should be sold on a website and how the items should be displayed to shoppers. They collaborate with other departments to determine and implement the right promotional strategies that can help the company meet its sales goals. These strategies may include cross-selling products, creating online advertisements for the company website, optimizing the website for search engines, managing product categories and creating written content for product pages. They also use Web analytics to monitor campaign performance and look for ways to optimize the website's navigation for increasing sales.

Deadlines for new product launches and the pressure to meet online sales goals can lead to stress for Internet merchandise managers. They must also constantly remain vigilant of competitors' strategies to determine any changes that need to be made to product selection, customer service or promotions. In addition to juggling these tasks, they are responsible for leading other merchandisers and working with the company's marketing and Web development personnel, as well as outside merchants. Some Internet merchandise managers work long hours to accomplish all of these tasks.

Career Prospects and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected little to no change in growth for purchasing managers, with positions increasing only two percent from 2012-2022. Some states with the highest employment levels include New York, Illinois, Michigan, Texas and California.

While the mean annual salary for purchasing managers was about $112,000 as of May 2014, this figure can widely vary by industry and state. The regions with the highest mean salaries were New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and the District of Columbia, which all offered average wages over $127,000.

Career Requirements

Education Requirements

While an associate degree may be enough if you have work experience in marketing or e-commerce, employers typically require that merchandising managers hold a bachelor's degree in marketing, business or e-commerce, which may or may not include an internship. An e-marketing major also exists that includes courses in e-commerce, social media marketing, Web analytics and search engine marketing, which can provide the specialized knowledge you need to promote products online. If you decide to pursue a generic business or marketing degree, some schools offer elective courses in Internet marketing and e-commerce. You'll also need to be skilled in management techniques, so you may wish to take a course in project management. Some other important skills you might learn during a program include the ability to use word processing and spreadsheet software, Web analytics tools and content management systems. Some employers also require knowledge of HTML and Web design.

Needed Skills

Internet merchandise managers need strong math and analytical skills to read reports and analyze statistics about Web usage. Problem-solving techniques are needed on a daily basis to determine the most effective promotional activities for products. Since you'll likely work with marketing teams, Web designers and merchants, it's also necessary to be a strong leader. Since these professionals may be responsible for promoting several products at once, you should be able to multitask and keep up in a fast-paced business environment.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Companies hiring Internet merchandise managers generally look for a background in marketing, including a related bachelor's degree and several years of work experience in merchandising. They also look for specific experience in e-commerce or digital merchandising. The following are some postings from companies seeking Internet merchandise managers in April 2012.

  • A retailer in New Jersey is seeking an e-commerce merchandising manager with at least four years of experience working in the field, as well as a marketing or business bachelor's degree. The candidate should have expertise in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and project management.
  • A Houston sales recruiting firm advertised for an Internet merchandising manager with e-commerce experience, a bachelor's degree and the ability to use Windows applications. In addition to having strong analytical and decision-making skills, the candidate should be able to multitask and be an effective leader.
  • An Ohio recruiting firm is looking for an e-commerce content merchandising manager with a bachelor's degree related to e-commerce or marketing and at least five years of online merchandising experience. The company may accept an associate degree if the candidate has significant experience. The candidate should know how to use Web analytics tools, spreadsheet software, word processing software and content management systems, as well as be knowledgeable of HTML.
  • A health e-commerce company in the District of Columbia seeks a senior online merchandising manager with at least five years of experience in the field and an Internet marketing bachelor's degree. The company prefers that applicants earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The candidate should also know how to conduct marketing testing and read analytics reports.

How to Stand Out

Get Experience

Since most positions in this career require experience in e-commerce or online merchandising in addition to your degree, you'll need previous work experience to stand out to employers. While some marketing degree programs offer an internship as a major requirement or elective, this may not supply enough experience for some employers. Seeking outside internship opportunities at companies that sell merchandise online can help you get additional experience.

Earn an MBA

An MBA program can help you further specialize in online marketing or e-commerce, as well as help you stand out for related management positions you might later pursue. Each program features general business courses, such as management, marketing, economics, accounting, operations and global business. An MBA program with a concentration in e-commerce explores how a company can use its website to stand out among competitors, how to build an effective website and how telecommunications technologies work. An Internet marketing concentration may cover search engine optimization, social media, Web data analysis and online marketing strategy development. If you have a general interest in marketing, a marketing MBA may cover market research, consumer behavior, digital marketing, advertising, international marketing and brand management.

Other Careers to Consider

Marketing Manager

If you wish to work in marketing but want a career with better job growth, a marketing manager career may be a good alternative for you. Marketing managers perform research to look for trends in the company's industry and consumer demands. Whether they focus on general marketing or Internet marketing, they use the information to come up with new marketing campaigns, track the performance of current campaigns and work toward the company's overall marketing objectives.

This career usually requires at least a bachelor's degree related to marketing or business, as well as significant experience in the field. While the career can require long hours and be stressful, the expected growth rate for marketing managers from 2010-2020 was 14%, according to the BLS. The mean annual wage was about $103,000, which happened to be the same as a purchasing manager's average income.

Sales Representative

If you want to sell goods but don't want to plan advertising campaigns, sales representatives can secure jobs with less training than merchandise managers. Representatives identify and contact customers who are interested in the company's products or services, and they educate the customer on the item's features, price, uses and availability to help them make purchasing decisions. Unless you plan to sell scientific or technical products, you may be able to pursue this career with only a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Representatives of technical and scientific products may need a bachelor's degree related to the products the company sells.

Sales representative jobs were expected to grow 16% from 2010-2020, which was average, according to the BLS. The mean annual wage for sales representatives of technical and scientific products was approximately $86,000 as of May 2011. Those who sell other products earned a lower mean annual salary of about $64,000.

Popular Schools

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    1. Purdue University Global

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    2. Johns Hopkins University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
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    3. Saint Leo University

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    Bachelor's
      • BA: Business Administration - Project Management
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    4. Grand Canyon University

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Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • MBA: Marketing
  • BBA: New Media and Internet Marketing
  • Associate: Business Admin.

Which subject are you interested in?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Business Administration - Project Management
  • BA: Business Administration - Management
  • AA: Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • BS - Business Management
  • Undergraduate Certificate - Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • B.S. - Music Business
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Master of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship
  • Bachelor of Science in Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business

What is your highest level of education completed?