Overview of the role

Helping bring products to market for retailer buying or merchandising teams.

Details of standard

This standard has options. Display duties and KSBs for:

Occupation summary

This occupation is typically found in the retail sector, across a range of different types of companies and employers such as those selling direct to the public/consumer and those selling to trade. It is also found across different types of retail operation, including those who trade from traditional stores, those who are exclusively on-line, and those who operate through a variety of channels.

Buying assistants will support new product selection and development and ensure that these new products are accurately added to the employer’s product portfolio in line with the supplier agreement. They will normally be responsible for the testing and delivery of product samples.

Merchandising assistants collate, distribute and analyse sales and performance reports, identifying trends, trading patterns and highlighting anomalies. They communicate and escalate findings appropriately, supported by a range of business solutions. They may also place supplier orders and maintain product availability across the business and for monitoring products to ensure on time delivery and availability to agreed locations.

Buying and merchandising assistants work collaboratively to contribute to the delivery of department/company sales and profit targets. They will normally report to a more senior member of the buying or merchandising team, this may vary with the size of the employer.

In this occupation, individuals would typically interact with a wide range of internal and external colleagues, including but not limited to, their wider buying and merchandising teams, designers, manufacturers, suppliers, distribution centres, stores, marketing, finance and IT departments. This is normally an office-based role, but may involve remote working, travel to stores, trade fairs, supplier meetings etc.

Typical job titles include:

Buying assistant Merchandising assistant

Core occupation duties

Duty Criteria for measuring performance KSBs

Duty 1 Monitor the critical path to ensure products are delivered on time

Recommendations made for new and existing products to agreed timescales

K1 K2 K3 K5

S3 S4 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S21

B4 B6

Duty 2 Engage with internal and external functions (such as marketing, PR, distribution, suppliers, supply chain, stores, on-line, sales teams, design teams, product technologists, customers) to deliver product ranges that meet business KPIs and customer needs

Issues that affect other internal and external functions identified promptly and resolved

No KPIs missed through poor communication or failure to collaborate

K2 K5 K6 K8 K9 K12 K13 K14 K15 K17 K18 K19 K21

S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S12 S20 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 3 Contribute to the continuous improvement of the buying and merchandising processes, responding to sector trends and new ways of working to drive sales and profit

Recommendations for improvements made to senior team members

K1 K4 K8 K12 K13 K14 K19 K21

S1 S2 S7 S10 S11 S12 S14 S15 S16 S17 S19 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6

Duty 4 Coach and mentor new colleagues to drive development

Individual and team development recorded

K9 K13 K15 K16 K17

S19 S23

B2 B6 B7

Duty 5 Develop and maintain a stakeholder network, to facilitate negotiations to maximise opportunities

Professional relationships developed, issues identified and resolved promptly. KPIs met

K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K13 K17 K18 K19 K21

S5 S8 S10 S15 S18 S20

B2 B3 B6 B7

Duty 6 Receive and resolve queries and questions from stakeholders (suppliers, designers, packagers, customers) regarding products, process, services, critical path deliverables etc

Internal and external functions briefed on critical path

K2 K6 K8 K9 K14 K18

S3 S5 S6 S10

B1 B2 B3 B6 B7

Option duties

Buying assistant duties

Duty Criteria for measuring performance KSBs

Duty 7 Manage the ordering, delivery, testing and showcasing of samples, to support the final selection of products

Appropriate samples were available for testing and show casing activities

K1 K2 K3 K5 K6 K8 K9 K12 K13 K14 K15 K17 K18 K19 K21

S1 S2 S3 S5 S7 S8 S10 S14 S15 S17 S18

B1 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 8 Action all the required processes throughout the product lifecycle, ensuring trading and pricing policies are adhered to, meeting the requirements of the current business strategy

Product portfolio updated and maintained with correct information

K1 K2 K3 K5 K7 K8 K11 K17 K18 K19

S4 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S13 S14 S20 S21


Duty 9 Input products into the database and carry out on-going maintenance. Coordinate the product content and imagery to support and maximise the sales of the product

All products represented accurately on product portfolio

K1 K2 K5 K7 K12 K13 K17 K21

S3 S9 S10 S11 S12 S21

B1 B2 B4 B6

Duty 10 Monitor competitor activities and update prices accordingly in line with legislation and organisation policies

Product portfolio updated and maintained with correct information

K2 K7 K11 K12 K18

S1 S3 S11 S13 S14 S15 S17 S21


Duty 11 Use competitor and market analysis to identify opportunities to improve/increase sales performance

Data sourced and actions implemented to agreed timescales

K2 K7 K11 K12 K18 K21

S1 S3 S11 S13 S14 S15 S17 S21

B3 B4

Duty 12 Assist in the creation of future range building inputting into trend and competitor analysis

Accurate data inputted to inform strategic decisions

K1 K2 K3 K5 K8 K10 K11 K12 K13 K15

S1 S2 S11 S12 S13 S14 S15 S16 S17 S18 S20

B1 B4 B5 B6

Merchandising assistant duties

Duty Criteria for measuring performance KSBs

Duty 13 Manage suppliers and key stakeholders (distribution/warehousing and depots, branches/ stores, online) to ensure stock levels are kept within agreed targets/timelines

Stakeholder’s issues dealt with promptly and within targets/timescales

K8 K12 K14 K15 K17 K19 K20 K21

S4 S6 S9 S10 S21 S22

B2 B4 B6 B7

Duty 14 Place and manage orders for assigned products, in line with the agreed volume and specification

Deliveries made on agreed dates in agreed volumes

Cancellations processed correctly

K7 K8 K14 K17 K20

S4 S9 S10 S12 S21 S22

B2 B4 B6

Duty 15 Assist in producing short to mid-term product range forecasts for intake and delivery

Correct data sources accessed and analysed

K7 K10 K12 K13 K20

S12 S13 S22


Duty 16 Use current and past data to identify opportunities to improve sales and profit performance, providing reforecasts of stock, delivery dates and cancellations to minimise/maximise financial impact. Provide weekly trading analysis

Data analysed and findings reported to senior team members to agreed timescales.

K7 K10 K11 K17 K18 K20

S4 S6 S11 S12 S13 S14 S17

B2 B3 B4 B5

Duty 17 Assist in the creation of future range building by inputting financial targets and plans and data analysis

Accurate data inputted to inform strategic decisions

K1 K3 K5 K7 K10 K11 K13 K14 K17

S2 S7 S10 S11 S12 S13 S14 S17 S18 S20 S21

B1 B4 B5 B7

Duty 18 Provide orders and line level product forecasts to suppliers. Manage/maintain stock replenishment system to maximise availability and drive sales

Stock system updated and maintained to agreed timescales

K12 K14 K17 K18 K20 K21

S9 S11 S12 S20 S21 S22

B2 B6



K1: How to develop an operational or strategic approach to buying and / or merchandising Back to Duty

K2: Industry standards, regulations and legislation relating to the ethical and sustainable sourcing, purchasing and sale of goods to ensure compliance Back to Duty

K3: Product lifecycle from development to customer and the critical path approach to support the buying and merchandising process Back to Duty

K4: Principles of buying and merchandising and the specific role of each Back to Duty

K5: The brand position within the market, which includes both UK and global markets, retailer types and trading models Back to Duty

K6: Effective methods of negotiation, and how they relate to the organisation’s strategy, goals and ethical stance Back to Duty

K7: Key aspects of the sector in respect of global and domestic trading patterns Back to Duty

K8: Principles of working within strategic operational buying and merchandising frameworks Back to Duty

K9: Effective methods of communication to achieve operational success Back to Duty

K10: The principles of internal trend analysis and forecasting Back to Duty

K11: The principles of undertaking competitor analyses Back to Duty

K12: The different purchasing habits of customers, seasonality and the different customer journey across all purchasing channels Back to Duty

K13: The importance of keeping up with current trends within the industry Back to Duty

K14: The importance of customer profiles and how they impact buying and merchandising operations Back to Duty

K15: The principles of team dynamics and relationships in order to achieve individual and organisational goals Back to Duty

K16: The importance of coaching and mentoring to support the development of the buying and merchandising teams Back to Duty

K17: The goals and targets of the business, the drivers of performance and the contribution of the team in order to achieve these Back to Duty

K18: The key performance indicators of the department, their performance and how to individually contribute to their success Back to Duty

K19: The range and impact of external factors such as currency fluctuation and global suppliers have on profit margin and costs Back to Duty

K20: The impact of stock planning and densities on profitability and how it aligns to organisational/brand strategy Back to Duty

K21: Factors affecting and impacting seasonal planning to ensure availability of appropriate products and to drive profit Back to Duty


S1: Uses their market/industry knowledge to contribute to new product development and innovation Back to Duty

S2: Contributes to the building of customer focused ranges to meet the brand identity of the business Back to Duty

S3: Ensures product quality and legal compliance by working within industry standards, regulations and legislation to source, purchase and sell goods Back to Duty

S4: Ensures accurate implementation of the critical path prioritising actions accordingly Back to Duty

S5: Negotiates in a manner that balances the need for a sound financial return, with the need to operate ethically, honestly and fairly Back to Duty

S6: Monitors agreed performance targets with suppliers to manage ongoing supplier relationships Back to Duty

S7: Applies the organisation strategy to buying and/or merchandising to ensure strategic objectives are met Back to Duty

S8: Applies an ethical and sustainable approach to the buying and merchandising process in line with policies and procedures to achieve legal compliance Back to Duty

S9: Ensures the agreed route to market is delivered and maintained successfully so that objectives are met Back to Duty

S10: Works with external and internal departments (for example, marketing, distribution, suppliers) to build relationships to drive sales activity and support the delivery of the business objectives across all channels Back to Duty

S11: Uses data to support decisions to influence both the strategic and operational direction of the buying and/or merchandising approach. Back to Duty

S12: Demonstrates accurate application of systems in analysing data (for example, customer trends, buying patterns, stock rotation and levels) Back to Duty

S13: Analyses and presents business data to support achievement of business strategies, brand and KPIs Back to Duty

S14: Evaluates commercial performance to support proposed actions for both good and poor product performers Back to Duty

S15: Demonstrates anticipation of customer buying and product patterns to forecast future demand Back to Duty

S16: Articulates relevant ideas and opinions towards trends and competitor activity so that opportunities may be identified Back to Duty

S17: Applies customer profile/trend data to inform the development of a range, products and services Back to Duty

S18: Formulates and communicates customer propositions Back to Duty

S19: Develops self and individuals to improve personal and team performance and capability Back to Duty

S20: Demonstrates commercial buying and merchandising within a financial framework Back to Duty

S21: Operates in a manner that produces the required financial rate of return for the business Back to Duty

S22: Ensures effective stock management to support the delivery of the sales and profit forecasts Back to Duty

S23: Coaches and mentors new/less experienced colleagues Back to Duty


B1: Is creative thinking, and enthusiastic with a positive and professional attitude Back to Duty

B2: Is confident accountable and pro-active Back to Duty

B3: Shows tenacity and is prepared to take risks Back to Duty

B4: Is resilient, organised with an eye for attention to detail Back to Duty

B5: Is flexible, agile and adaptable to changing markets Back to Duty

B6: Operates within professional code of ethics Back to Duty

B7: Is an ambassador for the business Back to Duty


English and Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Additional details

Occupational Level:


Duration (months):



This apprenticeship standard will be reviewed after three years

Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 4
Reference: ST0683
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 30/12/2022
Approved for delivery: 16 May 2019
Route: Sales, marketing and procurement
Typical duration to gateway: 18 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £6000
Options: Buying assistant, Merchandising assistant
LARS Code: 458
EQA Provider: Ofqual

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Contact us about this apprenticeship

Employers involved in creating the standard: Ocado, Steinhoff UK Ltd, Superdrug, Arcadia, M&S, Debenhams, JD Sports, John Lewis, Co-operative Group, Sainsburys, Mothercare, Travis Perkins

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.0 Approved for delivery 16/05/2019 Not set Not set

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