How to Start an Apparel Buying House?

Apparel buying house set up

In today's fashion business supply chain, apparel buying houses play an important role. They help international fashion buyers to get their design manufactured from the right sourcing destination. As the need of the apparel items increasing year after year with the increase of population, need of buying house are also increasing.   

After posting the article 10 small business ideas in the garment industry, I have received many emails from OCS readers on how to start a business on those given ideas. 

One such query is how to start an apparel buying house? 

It is all about how you can materialize your dream of setting up a small buying house for garment sourcing.

I had a discussion with one successful entrepreneur of a buying house on this topic. I had also gained knowledge when I was working with a number of buying houses, during my job in a garment export house. I will share a few points those are essential for starting a buying office. And I hope these notes might be helpful information for your business start-up. 

Actually, all the followings points are the primary requirement for starting a successful business.

1. You need an office

Initially, you don’t need a big office for your business. 

You can start the apparel sourcing business with a 3-4 rooms office. You need an office to prove your existence in the business and a communication address. Set up basic sections in the office. 

One of my contacts, started his buying office while working with an exiting export houses. He set up his office by purchasing second hand furniture. Purpose is to keep the initial investment in office minimum.

Register you company. Get all required business certifications from the authorized Govt. bodies. 

2. Product development cell 

You need to set a product development facility that may include designer(s), a sampling room and show room to display your products and developments. 

Develop your product range (product profile) with your creative team to attract your buyers. Buy necessary tool and equipment for the designers and product development team. 

I world say define your product portfolio. And stick with 4-5 product categories initially when your team is small. Don't try to supply all sorts of apparel articles. You will be lost in managing different supplier and wide ranges of products, their fabrics and raw material and sampling different product designs. 

3. Minimum working team

Develop a team with merchants, technical department and Quality Assurance team. Technical team would help your designer to develop products and sampling. Merchants will be required to day to day communication with your buyers and suppliers. Their job can be extended for sample development from supplier factories, sourcing of materials, providing approval to suppliers. 

Don’t forget to consider quality aspect of samples and production. 

4. Supplier base development

Develop supplier base in your region or low cost clusters. Make your suppliers’ list as big as possible. There are many reasons of having large suppliers contact including the following benefits.
  • You will get competitive price for production when you work with multiple suppliers. 
  • You can cover wider range of products in your product profile. This will increase the chances of getting more orders from the same buyer and increase the list of buyers.
  • You can handle large capacity for production orders for big buyers etc. 
In your supplier base include small suppliers as well as medium to large manufacturers for social compliance point of view. Before adding any new garment suppliers, you must evaluate the suppliers based on your requirement and requirement with your buyers. 

5. Sample development services for buyers

Many small buyers look for sample development facility in buying houses. You can do this job for buyers. Actually you don’t need to set up a sampling room for this service. 

For buyer’s samples like FIT sample and SMS (salesman sample) instead of developing samples yourselves, get samples developed by your suppliers, from where you are going to procure the order. Supplier would not disagree for the sampling, provided you would give them production orders. 

Tactic of earning from sampling services. For small number of samples, suppliers would not charge you. But you can charge for those samples from buyers.

6. Offer a full package services to your buyers

Apparel buyers normally prefer buying houses that provide a complete solution for garment sourcing. Like
  • Product development
  • garment sampling, 
  • quality assurance and shipment inspection
  • Logistics and shipment
You can consider including these services in your business services in later stage. Keep your buyers engaged through providing various services as they need from designing to getting readymade garments to their destination. 

7. Good relation with buyers

When you are going to start buying house, I assume that you have a contact / good relationship with some buyers. And you might know well about buyer’s behavior. Prepare yourself accordingly. I mean work on the following factors to grab attention of the buyer.
  • Fabrics preferences
  • Product range
  • Costing procedures and achievable cost
  • Colours for various seasons
Remember, it is all about relationship. 

8. No contact with buyers?

If you have no contact with buyers, you can proceed with the following method
  • Develop your product range
  • Create a list of buyers that are sourcing similar to your product range
  • Contact buyers and show them your product range
  • Start your business

Related post:
5 Tips for conducting buyer meetings

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Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog. He lives in India. linkedin

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