Know What You Wear

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Merchandiser and Merchandising Process in Garment Industry

Garment merchandising:
Merchandising comes from the word merchandise. Merchandise means commodities or goods to be bought and sold. In textile and apparel industry, merchandising is the department which mediates marketing and production departments. It is the methods, practices, and operations used to promote and sustain certain categories of commercial activity. Merchandising means to arrange all the required raw materials and to make the goods ready to sell them to customers.

Responsible person of merchandising is called merchandiser. Actually a merchandiser is responsible for almost everything-from order analysis to shipment and finally payment realization. Garment merchandiser is like a bridge between the buyer and industry. He has to look after every job like buying the raw materials which is required to finish the product, making the garment, finishing the garment, preparing documentation and finally shipping.

Actually a merchandiser is responsible for almost everything-from order analysis to shipment and finally payment realization.

Types of merchandising:
Two kinds of merchandising are practiced in the export of garment units

  1. Marketing merchandising
  2. Product merchandising
The main purpose of marketing merchandising is product development and costing of the same. Product merchandising comprises all the responsibilities from sourcing of materials to dispatching of finished goods and is done in the garment unit itself.

Evolution of merchandising in garment industry:
The conception of the word ‘merchandising’ can be followed back to the early historic period with the materialization of exchange or trade between nations. There are various data available about the presence and progress of trade between the civilisations in those periods like Greek, Roman, Indian, Chinese, and Egyptian. But amid those days, the importance of the word merchandising was limited merely to just exchange of commodities which were profited from nature. They were not produced for a particular purpose or customers.

The word merchandising got its importance after the industrial revolution that appeared after World War II. During this time, there was enormous demand for product development. Hence, merchandising grew as a connection between the design and marketing and sales to fulfill the needs of the public. The inevitability of merchandising is essential due to various reasons like intense growth of the garment industry, intricate raw material and processes, arrival of fresh garment styles, shorter product life cycle (PLC), innovations in textiles, rapid growth of application of computers in textiles etc.

An individual who is associated with merchandising activity is called a merchandiser. The merchandiser synchronises with the design team to successfully exhibit the product. He or she creates colours and specifications and carries out the market research to decide the most effectual ways to sell and promote the product. Excellent communication, ability to negotiate and analytical competences are essential qualities required for a merchandiser. Further, he or she also desires to be a creative and innovative thinker. The qualities required for the merchandiser are shown in Fig-1. He or she should be able to plan meticulously and control the operations involved in production of products, sourcing them and dispatching them to the customer on time.

Myers theory on merchandising
Fig-1: Myers theory on merchandising
A merchandiser should be partially a designer able to think creatively, partly an engineer able to develop the product, partly a computer expert able to communicate online, partly a marketer able to market and sell the product, and partly an entrepreneur. According to Theory on Merchandising, Myer defines merchandising as ‘Careful planning, capable styling and production or selecting and buying, and effective selling’.

Qualities of merchandiser:

  • Planning capability: Merchandiser must be competent enough to plan the activities based on the order that is to be followed. Otherwise, it will directly affect the delivery time of the order.
  • Decision making: It is a very important quality required for the merchandiser to deliver the product on time to buyers.
  • Communication skills: Oral as well as written communication are important to endorse the business activity as well as to have a good relationship with the buyers.
  • Loyalty: It is a crucial character of human beings, particularly for business persons.
  • Technical knowledge about the field: The merchandiser must have ample knowledge about the garment production activities, and technical knowledge to communicate with different levels of persons in the apparel industry.
  • Coordinate and cooperate: The merchandiser is the person who coordinates with the various departments in an apparel industry to get the job done.
  • Monitoring ability: He or she must supervise the various activities in different departments to speed up the orders to dispatch it on time to the buyers.
Function of garment merchandisers:
  1. Development of new garment styles and samples and execution of the same
  2. Garment costing based on the order
  3. Arrangement of raw materials, accessories and trims for execution of an order
  4. Production scheduling
  5. Approval of patterns and various samples
  6. Follow up of preproduction activities
  7. Coordinating with inspection agencies
  8. Production controlling
  9. Identification of bottlenecks in the process and materials and resolve the same
  10. Monitoring of in-house production activities as well as follow-up of subcontract work given outside
  11. Reporting the progress of orders to the buyer as well as top management
  12. Maintenance of proper records for individual garment styles
  13. Ensuring constant production rate by taking preventive as well as corrective actions
  14. Attending meetings with superiors and furnishing the required details about merchandising
Types of Garment Merchandising:

Fashion merchandising:
It includes all the activities beginning from fashion forecasting, design and development of product to retail activity and this also comprises production as well as retail merchandising. Fashion merchandise consists of items of retail merchandise that have ornamental value either with or without having any functional value. It includes predominantly items of apparel because they can all be ornamental as well as functional. The meadow of fashion merchandising exists to service the designer and customer relationship.

Fig-2: Process flow of a fashion merchandiser
Fashion forecasting:
It demonstrates/directs the apparel industry for new fashion presentation for the forthcoming season, thus it can recognize new fashion concepts, and the retail store’s merchandising approach.

Design development:
The design is created in light of themes utilizing the components of design, namely, color, texture, shape and implementing the principles of fashion such as proportion, balance and harmony. The design development must be practical which collects the current fashion trends and also viable to convert them into a finished garment.

Sample development:
The collection of designs developed by the fashion designers and the designs that have excellent prospects should be selected and taken for sample development process.

Product specification:
The specifications with regard to the particular product or style could be helpful in setting the product specification for the particular style of garment. It will direct the production department in the industry to develop and plan their merchandising activities and production planning and organise the thing for effective and efficient production of the merchandise.

Merchandising plan or policy:
It is a long range criterion for fashion buying and selling also for associated activities such as sales promotion. Merchandising plans are planned quite a few months ahead of the selling season.

It is a very vital task of fashion merchandising because it is the real process of manufacturing the product and displaying it for the sales at retail stores. A buyer’s task consists of both the buying and selling features of retailing.

Apparel export merchandising:
It could be defined as all the planning as well as activities involved from the buyer communication and order receiving to the dispatch of the product by fulfilling the subsequent factors:

  • Right merchandise: Retailers should fill their shelves with the merchandise that the customer needs.
  • Right place: The place/location of the merchandise is of significance as it decides the ease of access.
  • Right time: Since the majority of the merchandise is based on seasons and seasonal based changes in fashion and the related requirements should be on hand when it is mainly needed.
  • Right quantity: A lucrative balance between volume of sales and quantity of inventory is the required objective.
  • Right price: Merchandiser could arrive at a cost that is adequate to provide the retail store profit and yet low enough to meet the competition and customer’s expectations.
  • Right promotion: Correct balance between the investment and the demand created for the customers.
Merchandising Workflow:
The work activities of a merchandiser will include the following:

  • Examining the buyer requirement, understanding and communicating them to the specific departments and exhibiting the product to the buyers they need.
  • Confirming the quality during production as well as ensuring timely delivery of an order.
  • Developing a time and action (TNA) calendar for completing the schedules of various activities like cutting, sewing, finishing, dispatch etc. The WIP (work in progress) and the status of the order have to be monitored by the merchandisers regularly.
  • Coordinating and tracking the sourcing activities and confirming that all the raw materials and accessories are delivered on time.
  • Follow-up of post shipment activities to keep a long-term relationship with the buyer.
  • Accompanying the buyers on visits to manufacturers to understand production processes.
  • Meeting with suppliers for negotiating the cost and handling of stocks.
  • Ascertaining the difficulties related to production and supply of an order and dealing with it when they occur.
  • A preproduction meeting (PPM) is held among staff in the garment industry to discuss the style, trims, construction etc. if there are further clarifications, an external PPM is held with the QC, merchandiser, and buyer. 
Work flowchart of merchandising
Fig-3: Work flowchart of merchandising
We have published an article on apparel merchandising working flowchart with details. You can follow this.

You may also read: Apparel Merchandising Process Flow Chart 

Documents to be Maintained by the Merchandiser:

Production order (PO):
A production order comprises all the information needed by the PPC department to generate a line loading plan and it should be available for each style of every buyer. The production order consists of the description of style and style number, sizes, order quantity, quantity for each size, fabric consumption, specifications of interlining and trims, packing instructions, label specifications, etc.

Bill of materials (BOM):
From the PO, the requisite quantity of fabric and trims could be determined for a single product which is then multiplied by the number of shirts being produced. The required quantities are given as a bill of materials for various trims such as sewing threads, buttons, zippers and cuff links. The BOM is issued to the store to get the required amount of trims.

Specification sheet/Tech pack:
This form is vital for the execution of any order. It consists of all the technical information regarding the specific garment style such as fabric, tolerances, interlining details etc. for the style processing It provides necessary information required for various departments. For example, for the cutting department documents such as marker planning, marker consumption etc. and for the sewing department, details such as construction details, measurements etc. are provided by the tech pack. The specification sheet along with the PO form is issued to all the sections in the industry while the style is moving from one department to another.

Order status report:
In this order status report, all the styles and their diverse activities are updated in an Excel work sheet and is retained by the senior merchandisers. Therefore, he or she could easily track the current progress of a particular style.

Apparel Retail Merchandiser:
Retail merchandising refers to the various activities which contribute to the sale of products to the consumers for their end use. Retail merchandising is such a part of everyday life that people often take it for granted; it is one of the fastest changing, most dynamic industries in the world today. Every retail store has its own line of merchandise to offer to the customers. The display of the merchandise plays an important role in attracting the customers into the store and prompting them to purchase as well.

Retail merchandisers are apply multi-channel retailing ideas involving traditional retail stores, catalogs, direct mail and online venues including social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook etc. Retailers use state-of-the-art technology to respond instantaneously to changing consumer demand from around the world.

The retail business entails dividing a smaller part from a large good or a product and selling it to the consumers. The retail merchandiser sells the products in small quantities and coordinates as an intermediary between the wholesaler and consumers. Retail merchandisers are closely involved with company buyers for maximizing profit. They ensure that all the right amounts of products are appear in store or on a website, and are being sold at the right price.

To do this job retail merchandiser should know about the buying and merchandising, global retailing, retail market management, financial management and control, merchandise promotion, , global fashion, latest fashion trends, consumer behavior related to apparel selection decisions, and the analysis of textile and apparel products using textile testing equipment.

Performance Measurement Tools for Merchandising:
Performance measurement is a technique of gathering and reporting information concerning the performance of an individual or organisations. Contrasting to the manufacturing process where task activities are small enough to have repeatability; hence, it follows the work measurement principle. Merchandising activities have a long duration and follow a project management principle.

Enquiry response time:
It is the time interval between the enquiries to the buyer for the order to the confirmation of the order. A response must be sent within 24 hours or the next working day. A costing request should be replied to within 48 hours with possible alternatives.

                                       Enquiries replied within time frame
Enquiry response time = ----------------------------------------------- x 100
                                                Total enquiries replied

Sample acceptance percentage:
This represents the capacity of the design team in a garment industry in realising the buyer’s tastes, costs and the trends of the current season.

A higher percentage of sample acceptance level facilitates a long-term relationship with the buyer and a better chance of receiving production orders for the particular styles.

                                         Samples accepted by buyer
Sample adoption % = --------------------------------------------------- x 100
                                      Samples presented to the buyer

Order conversion rate:
This shows the percentage of successful conversion of sampling to actual buyer orders. Lower percentage adds significant cost to the manufacturer and time delays.

                                                                             Number of styles ordered
Order conversion rate (or) Sample hit rate = ------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Number of styles sampled

On-time sample delivery percentage:
It represents the total time taken from the date of order enquiry from the buyer to the dispatch of the order. A proto sample should be sent within four days and a fit sample within five days to the buyer to ensure a quick response from the buyer. This information can be valuable for evaluating the performance of the merchant and for acquiring further orders by showing a good delivery record to the buyers.

                               Number of samples sent on or before time
Sample delivery = ---------------------------------------------------------------------- x 100
                                       Total number of samples sent

Sample rejection percentage:
It is ratio between the number of garments rejected and the number of garments dispatched. The rejected garment includes proto sample, fit sample or any other type of samples depending on industry requirement. The rejection percentage evaluates the ability of pattern makers as well as merchandisers in understanding the tech pack. It is vital for the merchandisers to have a good impression with the buyer.

On-time file handover to production department:

This measurement index represents the ability of the merchandising department in handing over the order related files to the production department in a stipulated time to avoid any bottleneck in the delivery of the order. Any change in the schedule disrupts the planning schedule.

This index can be determined on a weekly or a monthly basis.

                                                   Number of on time deliveries
File handover achievement = ------------------------------------------------ x 10
                                                   Number of planned deliveries

Number of orders handled per unit time:
It represents the number of orders successfully carried out by a merchandiser in a particular month or season. This indirectly evaluates the quantum of work carried out by the merchandiser in a specific period of time.

Orders handled per unit time = Total orders handled in a month or year

Value handled per unit time:
It signifies the value that the merchandiser is bringing into the company.

Value handled per unit time = ∑order values in a month or year

  1. Apparel Manufacturing Technology by T. Karthik, P. Ganesan, and D. Gopalakrishnan
  2. Garment Manufacturing Technology by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye