Don’t come to work; come to play. Join the Kaplan Early Learning Company team to become a champion for play as a transformative learning experience. The merchandisers represent the “face” of Kaplan Early Learning Company, acting as a dedicated expert in early childhood resources. A merchandiser must be the authority in sourcing and selecting products that support our core values and drive to provide the best products and services that enhance children’s learning.
For over 50 years, Kaplan Early Learning Company has been a leading provider of educational products and services that enhance children's learning in the birth through elementary market. We bring to market innovative curricula, cutting edge assessments, teacher resource materials, classroom products and valuable professional development opportunities to early childhood and elementary school educators, caregivers and parents around the world.
A merchandiser is results-driven, customer-focused, creative, persistent, and can learn quickly when facing new problems. The ideal candidate can relate well to all kinds of people inside and outside the organization, build constructive and effective relationships, shift gears comfortably, and handle risk, change, and uncertainty.
- Product Development & Procurement
- Sample, test, and evaluate prospective new products to ensure quality and application with industry standards
- Assess the market trends for assigned product categories, including new product availability, changes in state and federal requirements, curriculum or assessment adoptions, and trends on Pinterest/social media, etc.
- Do what is necessary to stay creatively inspired. This may include, but is not limited to, keeping abreast of market trends by shopping the market, attending trade shows, becoming a member of teacher and industry groups, and reading current books, curriculum materials, magazines and trade papers.
- Stay current on technology that supports and streamlines the merchandising process.
- See how products perform in the field. Spend time with salespeople, talking to customers face to face. Use the knowledge from these interactions to positively impact the accuracy of product selection.
- Research & Analysis
- Monitor competitor’s offerings to identify product trends and threats.
- Project sales by item and category and work with purchasing to make recommendations for initial order and reorder quantities.
- Review past seasons’ sales performance by product and category and formulate strategies that build on strengths. Strategies should include updating and evolving successful products to ensure a fresh, new product line.
- Vendor Relationship Management
- Work with vendors to meet market needs to include sourcing existing product or developing new product, including packaging and delivery terms.
- Negotiate pricing with vendors to remain competitive within the market while maintaining an acceptable gross profit level. Set appropriate retail prices. Provide management with a topline overview of pricing position and rationale.
- Product Management
- Work closely with Marketing/Creative and Product Information to provide complete merchandising information including item #, copy, pricing, and images, product changes, updates, forecasts, etc.
- Enter product and vendor information into product database. S/he will also maintain and review product information for accuracy. Write product copy as necessary.
- Proof page layouts in all stages of pre-press to ensure the customer will have a clear understanding of product including features, benefits, and construction.
- Train internal customers, including outside sales force, marketing department, on features and benefits of product lines for which s(he) is responsible.
- Identify and attend key trade shows that are relevant to the lines merchandised.
- Plan and exhibit for Kaplan at key national trade shows, partnering with Marketing on product selection, booth design, and sales training.
This position requires strong communication, negotiation, project management, organization, and analytical skills. Extensive knowledge of marketing and industry trends related to the early childhood industry required, with 3- 5 years of experience in the early childhood industry. Incumbent must be creative, and possess extensive understanding and knowledge of age appropriateness, licensing requirements, literacy product needs, etc. and the mental and physical needs of children in relation to product selection and design.
The Merchandiser must be able to travel frequently on domestic and/or overseas trips. Must be able to work in a fast paced environment and have the skills necessary to deal with multiple tasks. Must be flexible with proven ability to work collaboratively as a part of a team. Meeting deadlines is crucial and problem-solving skills are paramount. A working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel are necessary.