Billy Crawford, 2013 BA-Merchandise Management Alumni and Merchandise Assistant of Pier 1 Imports Inc. headquartered in Fort Worth, TX, shares his experiences as a student at Wade College and about his career in the industry.
What are your primary responsibilities as a Merchandise Assistant?
I create SKUs, processing all purchase orders to vendors, executing all purchase order changes including cost, payment terms, ship dates, ship ports, cancellations, and consolidations. I initiate all new order forms and applying all tax codes and applicable surcharges. I assist Buyers with samples including product validation for e-commerce and gathering competitive market research on other retailers
Describe a typical work day.
A typical day at the office can vary. Many days will involve writing new order forms for new product that has been decided to purchase. Re-buys also come through daily on SKUs that we carry year-round or on their low inventory. I assist 3 Buyers, 2 Merchandise Planners, and 2 Allocation Analysts over 5 different departments including rugs, bedding, throws, window treatments, and shower linens. One day may include a compliance meeting about flammability reports for bedding versus the next day we have a meeting on areas of opportunity for a solid program for outdoor rugs. There is daily involvement and communication with overseas vendors about purchase orders or characteristics about products.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
The thing that I enjoy most about my career thus far is the constant involvement with different types of work in the office. I work many different people and departments. I have worked with legal, product compliance, buying, planning and allocations, and marketing/e-commerce. It has showed me all the different occupations that really exist out there and helps you narrow down what really interests you.
Why did you choose Wade College?
I chose Wade College because of the smaller campus size and the prime location in the Dallas Design District. Also, I was intrigued by how industry professionals taught many of the courses.
How did education at Wade College help prepare you for your career?
Wade College significantly helped prepared me for my career by offering courses that relate to my current occupation. Many things that were learned in these courses are brought to the workplace! Do not study just to make a letter grade, study to remember! There is also a correlation between what I was taught in the classroom and with my current job role. Many of the tasks that I complete daily were discussed in multiple courses. I understand the merchandising jargon versus someone coming in with an accounting or business degree. Wade College helped prepare me for this industry!
What advice do you have for students and recent graduates beginning their careers in your profession?
The most precious advice that I can give involves what employers are looking for. Many students, (myself at the time) focus to make straight A’s and fail to realize that is only part of the “game.” Many employers are looking for candidates that are well-rounded. They want individuals that have experience, have stories to share, have accomplishments outside of the classroom. You might be the smartest student but that doesn’t make you the sharpest crayon in the box. Last but not least, you have to network! It is crucial in order to survive in these areas of concentration.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
My proudest accomplishment is acquiring a corporate level position in merchandising within 6 months of earning my Bachelor of Arts degree.
Who inspires you in your career?
My co-workers are definitely my inspiration. They have taught me not only to work hard, but how to be a better person and how to be optimistic in every situation. I definitely follow their leadership and I’m constantly intrigued by their perseverance.
Wade College is very proud of you, Billy Crawford!