Apparel Merchandising and Challenges in Merchandising Job as a Career

This is a guest post by Rakibul Hassan

Apparel Merchandising is a well known job profile in apparel industry. Outside the apparel industry, many know this term as well. Apparel merchandising is generating a lot of value to apparel consumers.
Let me explain, what does merchandising mean?

“Merchandising is the business art of matching goods to the needs and preferences of customers to ensure shelf off take". In other word merchandising is the marketing activity responsible for ensuring a product’s desirability, both in qualitative and quantitative.

‘Merchandising’ word is originated from Merchant or Shopkeeper. The duty of the shopkeeper is to arrange right products with right price before a consumer decides to buy or knows about the product from promotion or media. If a merchant fails to supply goods on time or fails to supply the right packaging, customer will go to other shops and buy the products from competitors, who keep the desired product in stock.

Merchandising is a process or function for what to buy and how to buy for sale.

Merchandising is part of marketing process where 4 P's are required to complete the process of marketing.

  1. Product, 
  2. Price, 
  3. Place/distribution 
  4. Promotion

In the above, the term ‘Merchandising’ has been explained in general. In a moment I will explain about apparel merchandising.

When it comes to explain about apparel merchandising, this is to bring the orders by using different marketing tools, arranging raw materials according to buyer’s specifications, producing goods with quality standard in a specified time with a strong follow up, ship out the goods and receiving the payments. After completing everything, closing the order file and starting the marketing activity again. This is Apparel Merchandising as a whole.

Apparel Merchandising Activity Cycle:

Common merchandising activities are displayed in following diagram in a cycling from.

Professional qualities of a Merchandiser:

Following are key skill sets, a merchandiser need to acquire to execute his/her responsibilities successfully.
  • Should have computer skill
  • Good communication skills written and verbal 
  • Good knowledge in mathematics
  • Always be Courageous and Active
  • Knowledge of different fabrics
  • Knowledge on Garment production
  • Knowledge on washing
  • Knowledge on banking, commercial, shipping etc
  • Need to have at least a related training etc.
  • Other important qualities are – able to take high mental pressure
  • Must take responsibility for task undertaken 

Responsibilities of a Merchandiser:

A mecrchadiser is responsible for the following tasks but not limited to these only.
  • Marketing
  • Costing and price quoting 
  • Sample development and control whole sampling process 
  • Fabric and accessories sourcing and tracking 
  • Factory production scheduling and production tracking 
  • Arranging final inspection
  • Shipping plan and booking
  • Customer liaison etc
Read job responsibilities of a production merchant.

Merchandising and interdepartmental relations:

In an export house or garment manufacturing unit, a merchant plays major role in order execution. They need to interact with all the department in a factory. The major departments in factory with whom merchants work closely is shown in the following diagram.

Quick Response Merchandising:

Apparel Merchandising is such a profession where one needs to be very much active all the time. As this is related with export, time management is very much important here. This is one of the scale of efficiency here that, how fast you can response.

Pre-Order & Post-Order merchandising:

Pre-order Jobs (Marketing Part):

  • Marketing: Advertising/ Publicity/Promotional work
  • Receiving Inquiry: Tech pack, Measurement chart and related information
  • Price Quotation: Consumption, Costing, Pricing
  • Negotiation: For price fixation 

Post order Jobs (Execution part):

Sampling & Approvals: After confirmation of a order merchants need to sampling and take approval on samples, fabric development and trim and accessories. See the following chart for different types of sample.
Sampling and approvals

Raw material Sourcing, Production Follow up and Post Production Tasks: 

Major tasks and process flow after sampling have been shown in the following diagram.

Merchandising as a Challenging Career:

There are lot of challenges in merchandising job. Those challenges may come from different perspectives. Here are major point to be looked into as career challenges.
  • Career Perspective
  • Educational Perspective
  • Social Perspective
  • Industrial Perspective
  • Organizational Perspective
  • Leadership Perspective
  • Earning / Economical Perspective

From my personal point of view, in apparel merchandising, an individual needs to take tons of challenges and face much struggles to give birth a baby as a garment compared to other job profiles in the garment industry. “Time Management ” and “Hard Working” are two most important key merchandising skills that one must have to become a successful merchandiser.

About Rakibul Hassan: Rakib has completed his in Apparel Manufacture & Technology form Institute of Science, Trade & Technology from Bangladesh. Now he is working in an export house as a Merchandiser from June 2012. He has expertise in costing, consumption, planning, follow up, different types of washing etc.

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