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If the world of fashion intrigues you and marketing and business management of fashion interests you, fashion merchandising may be the right career option for you. So, what is fashion merchandising? The term ‘merchandiser’ denotes buying and selling goods for profit. Hence, Fashion Merchandising is the practice of ensuring that fashion goods are available at the right price, at the right time and in the right amount to the customer. Brands hire fashion merchandisers for the identifying customer demands, planning a range accordingly, pricing, buying or drawing up range and quantity breakup and sometimes fashion merchandising also involves promotional campaigns. Broadly, the role of merchandising in fashion involves the following aspects:
So, if you aspire to build a career in this field, this article will help you know all about fashion merchandising.
Fashion merchandising encompasses various roles and responsibilities with an aim to understand, predict, and respond to consumer needs and behaviour and maximise sales and revenue. It combines the knowledge of fashion, design and business to support fashion retail operations and ensure their functionality. Broadly, fashion merchandising encompasses the following responsibilities:
The process of converting random walk-in customers into leads involves considerable research into the customers’ demography, behaviour, habits and purchase frequency.
A degree in fashion Business Management is the gateway to a career in fashion merchandising. The minimum eligibility is 10+2 from any discipline with a minimum aggregate of 50%. Many colleges require candidates to clear an entrance test wherein candidates are tested on creative skills, logical reasoning, and basic design skills. Some of the components of the fashion business management course include Fashion Buying and merchandising, supply chain and logistics, consumer buying behaviour, business research and statistical analysis and more.. The course enables practical learning through assignments, case studies, and projects. It also equips students with several new-age skills, such as decision-making, problem-solving and emotional intelligence. Internships are also a valuable way to gain hands-on learning and insights into the working of the industry. Another important aspect is building a strong portfolio showcasing the work done in the past, their achievements and key highlights of their career journey. Aspiring fashion merchandisers can start building their portfolio during graduation and keep updating it as they gain more experience. One should also focus on resume building and preparing oneself thoroughly for interviews by attending several mock sessions. Moreover, networking and attending industry events are the best way to keep yourself updated with recent trends and developments. One should also focus on lifelong learning to ensure relevance amid the evolving job landscape.
Fashion merchandisers are entrusted with several responsibilities to boost sales and increase revenue. They work in a variety of environments such as fashion retail stores, fashion brand headquarters, trade and fashion shows. Fashion Merchandising, as a career, involves collaborating with fashion designers, manufacturers, vendors and sales and marketing teams to augment the revenue stream and impact the businesses' bottom line. Following are various career options in fashion merchandising:
Retail Buyer: A retail buyer conceptualises buying plans, negotiates with vendors and orders merchandise. His role involves extensive travel to fashion runways and trade shows to keep an eye on the latest fashion trends, which will appeal to buyers.
Planning Merchandiser: A planning merchandiser is concerned with production planning. Planning merchandisers work closely with sourcing merchandisers on the delivery timeline of raw materials. They also coordinate with industrial departments to get the SAM value of apparel. He/She, along with the production team and planning merchandiser, plans the entire production process taking into account the efficiency, strength and absenteeism of the operators. His role also involves coordinating with cutting and packaging departments to ensure the delivery of accurate merchandise on time in the market.
Sampling Merchandiser: A sampling merchandiser takes care of sampling and ensures that samples are sent to buyers on time to meet their buyers' requirements. He/She also follows up on their delivery timeline and takes care of the quality of samples.
Buying House Merchandiser: A buying house merchandiser serves as the link between the buyer and manufacturers to fulfil the terms and conditions of the export order. A buying house merchandiser communicates directly with overseas customers to understand their preferences and purchase requirements. His role involves understanding the buyers’ market, ensuring quality control, overseeing logistics and documentation and much more.
Account Manager: An account manager oversees key relationships between manufacturers and retail stores, presents new product lines to buyers and shares product and promotional details to keep them updated with the latest information and influence their purchase decisions.
Store Manager: A store manager oversees the daily operations of the fashion store, ensuring that it runs smoothly. His responsibilities include mentoring and motivating sales teams, devising business strategies, developing promotional materials and hiring and training new staff.
Visual Merchandiser: The role of a visual merchandiser involves determining floor layouts, conceptualising 3D product displays and signage, and collaborating with various stakeholders, including manufacturers and retail headquarters' staff, to push sales.
Marketing Specialist: A marketing specialist promotes brands and products to the target audience through online and offline channels and develops strategic initiatives to boost sales.
Merchandise Consultant: A merchandise consultant aids fashion companies in achieving goals by developing strategic marketing and advertising plans, assessing current trends and sales forecasts, and developing financial plans.
Fashion merchandising is a vital building block of a brand. The demand for fashion is ubiquitous from New York, Paris and Milan to local boutiques, national retailers and e-commerce brands. In this era of stiff competition marked by the proliferation of fashion brands, there has been an increased focus on branding and customer experience. Brands need to go the extra mile to highlight their unique value proposition, stand out from the clutter and strike a meaningful and emotional connect with customers. This has provided a fillip to fashion merchandising as a career. These professionals are responsible for showcasing a brand to the target audience across platforms, including offline stores and online.
The retail sector is the biggest employer for fashion merchandising professionals. These professionals are well-positioned to carve their niche in various fields of not only fashion but also marketing, sales, public relations and communications.
According to Statista, revenue from retail e-commerce, such as the sale of fashion apparel, footwear and accessories in the U.S., is projected to be worth $205 billion by 2025, compared to $102 billion in 2018.
Moreover, emerging trends such as curated experiences, focus on sustainable fashion, phygital presence, experiential communication and the use of new-age technologies such as Metaverse, Blockchain, and Augmented Reality hold great promise to reimagine the sector.
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