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  Merchandising Terminology:                                                                                                                                    Home Resources

       While merchandising you will find out that there are many words, terminology, that is job specific and store chain specific as well.  Each chain may have there own "words" to describe retail activities.  For example, most stores call a shelf "blueprint" a planogram, whereas Walmart for example refers to it as a "modular".   These store specific terms will quickly present themselves once working as a merchandiser.  They will be easy to pick up on and when in doubt, just ask the store personnel for clarification.   A lot of words though are common through out the industry.  In order to work in merchandising and often in a related field of merchandising, you will need to know and understand these industry terms below.  This is a basic terminology list, however you may find that there are many more common retail terms in use today, depending upon the retail application that you're endeavoring to achieve.  Most companies that hire merchandisers, prefer people who already have experience, but how can you get experience unless you get your first merchandising job?  This is the first step that you will need to work on, understanding the industry terminology and using it while interviewing is a great way to start.



Back stock:  Product remaining after shelf, fixture is stocked to capacity.

Bay:  An 8 foot wide section of Retail Shelf Space, typically the distance between 2 “Uprights”.

Beam:  The steel that is installed between two upright posts to create a shelf on which to place product.

Call Report:  A report filled out to provide data to the client.

Cross Merchandising:  Displaying product along with other related product in a location other than it’s planogrammed space.

Cut Case Display:  A product display created by trimming the corrugated outer casing to display product contained within.

Cut-ins:  New items that need to be placed on an existing display, fixture, shelf, in a specifically designated location.

Cycle counts:  An process of adjusting the computer on hand quantities of product to match the physical on hand quantities. Similar to taking inventory.

Damages:  Products that cannot be sold for any # of reasons like broken, out of date, missing pieces, a.k.a: claims or reclaims.

Display:  Arrangement of merchandise, usually accompanied by printed signs.

DSD: "Direct Service Delivery" A vendor that orders their own product and it ships directly to stores via vendor trucks, not thru the stores warehouses & the vendors service it. For example, cookies, crackers and soft drinks.

Endcap:  Shelf/fixture/display on the end of an aisle.

Facing(s):  A single item on a shelf, fixture or display. Total number of items visible.

FIFO:  First in/First out, a method or rotating stock for freshness, newest product going in behind the oldest product.


Fixture:  Shelf/case/display that holds product.

Gondola:  The long fixtures product is located on in a store.

Hard lines:  Lines of product, commonly considered tools, automotive, house wares, etc.

In-Line:  Product placement within an aisle run.

Item number:  Number assigned by Lowe’s to give a product an individual name in its system.

J-Hook:  Hook in the shape of a “J” that is attached to an upright to hold smaller product.  Item selection should be made to increase customer purchases. Items should have a package width of 6” wide or less if possible. Try never to block access to the products behind the j hook.

Maintenance:  General upkeep of keeping product set to current plan-o-gram and fixtures clean.

Merchandiser:  A person who services retail stores who is knowledgeable  with their clients brands, product and store objectives.

Merchandising:  Placing product in an approved and eye appealing configuration.

Model number:  Number assigned by the manufacturer to identify different products they offer.

Non stock:  A product that is not a stock item.

OOS:  Out of stock.

Pack Out:  Placing product on a shelf/display/fixture to full capacity.

Planogram or Modular:  Approved arrangements of product on a shelf, fixture or display. The “Blueprint” that shows where merchandise should be placed on a shelf for a particular product line or group of products.  For example the arrangement of soups in an allocated section in the store.


P.O.:  Purchase order used to ship product to a store.

P.O.P.:  “Point of Purchase Materials” or “Signage”.  The pictures, posters and labels that help customers make their buying decisions when looking at products in a bay.  Advertising materials.

P.O.S.:  Point of Sale materials, advertising materials.

Reset:  Changing shelf, fixture or product display to conform to authorized preferred configuration.

Retrofit or Remodel:  to furnish or affix parts or equipment made available after the time of original manufacture, or to modify an existing floor plan or fixtures to new specifications.

Returns:  Product that is not sold or is damaged, often deleted product that is sent back for credit from the manufacturer.

RTM or Claims Clerk:  The “Return To Manufacturer” employee that is responsible for getting “Credit” from the manufacturers for damaged, deleted, recalled and customer returned merchandise.

Soft lines:  Lines of product, commonly considered clothing, lingerie, things of this nature.

SKU:  Stock keeping unit (item number assigned to product).

Survey:  Questionnaire that collects information requested by customer/client.

Top Stock:  Stock left over after shelf is filled to full capacity and put on the shelves above the product displays.

UPC:  Universal Product Code, a code pattern or bar stripes of different widths, which can be read by electronic scanners, used for identification of products, cases and coupons.

Vendor:  A supplier of product.

Vendor rep:  A representative that works on the behalf of a supplier of merchandise to a store.

 Try applying directly to retail websites for retail/merchandising jobs.  Click here for links to many retailer sites

Backstock, Bay, Beam, Call report, Cross Merchandising, Cut case display, Cut ins, Cycle Counts, DSD, Display, Endcap, facing, FIFO, Item number, J hook, Maintenance, Merchandising, Merchandiser, Non stock, OOS, Pack out, Planogram, Modular, Inline, Hardlines, PO number, POP, POS, Claims clerk, SKU, Survey,Top stock, UPC, Vendor
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