Part 1: Key Functions of a Fashion Merchandiser
The style organizations hit their targets from the support given by the fashion buyers and the merchandisers. The two parties have a significant impact on the market mix elements and act as key profit drivers in the retail businesses operations. However, the merchandisers and the buyers have their specific roles and authority regarding the management of the product cycle. Fashion merchandising involves making products available to the consumers in large quantities after a new fashion has been designed. The majority of the people believe that fashion merchandising resembles marketing though they are two unique things (Koumbis, 2014).
A fashion merchandiser has a significant value when it comes to the selection of inputs on the product to be designed such as; the type of fabric suitable for developing. He or she must be well versed with the socio-cultural and historical needs of the consumers. By understanding the taste and preferences of the customers, the designer’s vision can be diversified in the construction of the outfit and knowledge concerning the fabric. Putting into consideration all factors that influence the manufacturing process, the merchandiser can select the optimal target market and price.
Presenting the items to the market
Once production is complete, fashion buying is expected to take place. The merchandiser has the role of offering the new fashion design to the various product outlets. In the selection of stores, the merchandise must ensure that the appropriate target market is available in the vicinity. On top of that, he should be accurately versed with the fashion trends of the region to enable him to forecast future rates of sales. Presentation of the items gives more information on how best to design the products and the type of expertise required in the selection of fabrics and textiles designers.
Working closely with the fashion designer
A fashion merchandiser has a responsibility of working hand in hand with the designer for him to get priority in getting the mass production of the items. The buyer and the merchandiser should develop a strong rapport the merchandiser needs to be smart, have apparent visual skills and be creative for example having fashion show platforms to showcase the latest designs in the target market.
Fashion merchandising involves selling the collections made of different designs. The items can be sold in wholesale or retail forms. For the merchandiser to make high sales, he should be updated with the market trends and be accurate in forecasting so as to give relevant recommendations for production purposes.
Every organization has stipulated its objectives that all individuals in the firm must work towards accomplishing them. In the fashion industry, a merchandiser’s primary role is attaining the financial goals of the institution. All decisions made have to stabilize the financial plans and expected profitability levels budgeted for each period. It is the responsibility of the merchandiser to report, control and analyze the key indicators established of performance as specified by the firm. The items available have to concur with the customer’s choices and sold at affordable but profitable prices. When reviewing the performance of the merchandise, the success is measured by the volume of sales, turnover rates of the merchandise and attainment of the profit margin.
The merchandiser’s routine involves interaction with the buyers promptly. As a result, they have the mandate to set parameters that will determine the range of the garment. Establishing the field involves, stating the types or number of the commodities, formulating a budget for the purpose of buying, and assessing the lines in a given range. The parameters aid in maximizing potential, minimizing risk and planning a stable range.
Apart from selling, a fashion merchandiser needs to make purchases for the raw materials required to make a standard or customized commodity. Before any purchase, he should ensure that the materials are in alignment with the target customer’s expectations or it is the preferred trend.
Coming up with an appealing assortment is not a simple task; therefore, the merchant is required to engage with the customers to obtain information on their needs and wants. Getting customer knowledge can take different forms; direct interactions, spending time observing the trends in stores, reading trade newspapers, and attending the fashion shows. Like any other business, the fashion industry is full of competition. Analyzing the competitor’s choice of assortment or other retailers merchandise forms part of the information needed.
The administrative functions are essential responsibilities of the merchandiser. The paperwork about items being shipped in the enterprise are recorded by the merchandiser on arrival to the organization. The records include; purchase orders, the buying sheets, marketing materials and the charges of obtaining information. However, the records must be held with discretion to avoid manipulation by members of the firm.
The layout of the fashion items will either attract customers or not. A well-designed enterprise is likely to make more sales through impulsive purchases by the customers. The fashion industry widely attests to the use of the visual expression to improve the sales level. Therefore, a merchandiser has to build a physically attractive environment to make the people within the vicinity curious to come in the store.
Model stock, store grading and size ratios
The newly designed products are presented in the market for the buyers and merchandisers to grade the store by performance in the target market. The grading format is dependent on the selling pace and the sales history held by the firm. Each season has a different sales performance due to the external and exogenous factors in the fashion industry. Consequently, the buyers and merchandise have to develop Model Stock Plan every season to reflect the current product mix and its impact on the range plan and seasonal variations. The merchandiser has a vital role in analyzing the actual sales of the firm with the comparison to the margins obtained in the past model stocks as well as giving recommendations on whether to minimize stock outs or maximize sales. The merchandiser and buyer have to work together under due diligence to ensure that the accurate number of lines are proportionally distributed to stock planners in comparison to the size of the specific firm.
Promotional planning, markdowns, and forecasting
The organization faces challenges in the world full of competition and environmental factors. The change occurring between the two elements forces a merchandiser to be alert to diversified conditions surrounding their operations. The merchandisers tend to shift the over-stocked product and give suggestions on how to carry out sales promotion and have a discountable platform of exploitation from the suppliers. For the organization to generate more income from the new styles embraced in production, the re-orders for best seller’s technique is employed instead of ‘repeats.’
The local fashion does not approve the use of mark up’s though merchandisers have to work in collaboration with the buyers to establish the markdowns. Constant analysis of the sales enables the merchandiser to make frequent adjustments that will positively influence the performance of the organization. The merchandiser has the duty to make accurate re-forecasting before the changes are implemented.
Part 2: Evaluation of the Critical Path Analysis in Conjunction to UK’s Fashion Calendar
A critical path is a representation of schedule comprising the specific dates for the buying the idea of product development and production and ensuring that the range is launched before the deadline set. The merchandising manager and the buying directors are responsible for setting the dates and informing their specific teams of the planned schedule. The purpose of immediate notification is to meeting suppliers, having meetings and other relevant operations on within the required time frame. Setting the critical path forms an appropriate tool in monitoring the routines of the firm such as; approving the type of fabric to be used, garment trims, color, quality testing and clothing fit by ensuring activities are done as per the schedule. However, setting an absolute critical path is a challenge considering that the product being designed has been newly introduced. The primary goal of the path is to ensure that production run and product development take place concurrently. During the formation of a critical path, the manufacturer and the buyer have to liaise with each other in each decision made. The rapport form between the suppliers and the consumer creates a mutual supportive ideally for the retailer.
Resembling the virtual orchestra, the environment has been undergoing dynamic changes worldwide thus increasing the complexity of suppliers, processes and multiple functions within a short time span. When an enterprise fails to attain, the proper quality required for their consumers, the company, brand or product is likely to collapse where the customers are capable of buying the commodities. Therefore, the fashion critical path calendar is an essential aspect to be looked at when engaging in different manufacturing activities and distribution times. In the paper, the analysis of the critical path is based on the fashion calendar followed by the United Kingdom citizens.
During the start of the year, there are a lot of sales in the top business sector such as the purchase of school stationery and clothes. The fashion merchandiser’s claim to receive high textile sales during this time especially when approaching to valentine’s day. The valentine’s period is complete when the garment is designed to fit the winter clothing style and fabrics with a touch of either shade of pink or red. To avoid the last-minute rush, the firms ensure that towards the end of December of the previous year new designs for the occasion are creatively selected and design. The designer should be accurately updated with the changes that have taken place in different socio-cultures, trends and competitors production trends for him to out-smart other sellers in the target market. The fashion industry comprises of people with different tests and preferences. In as much as the merchandiser’s experience high revenues during the first two months, the individuals will have different opinions on when to purchase different clothing for winter.
There are those consumers who would prefer buying the items at an earlier period; their argument is that the garments at this time are of a wider variety and better quality than when the demand is high. On the other side, the people who make their purchases in the first months of the year say that; in January, the increased demand in the clothing’s gives them the privilege to get an affordable end bargain of the prices. Despite the diversification in the opinion on when to make a purchase, the manufacturers need to set aside duration for the spring garments and place orders for the raw materials required for the next season.
Moving to spring, the producers in the clothing industry embrace a different angle of fashion. The desired taste for the season is color blocking, fragmented lace, pastel shades, and floral prints. The Easter holidays fall in the spring season, and during this period the people take great vacations to celebrate. Holding celebrations implicate that there is large consumption not only in the food sections but also clothing. In March the mother’s in Britain are dedicated during the special mother’s day. At this time the women garments are sold more than the malware. Most of the family members buy clothes as gifts for their parents. The designers in the fashion industry should ensure that the garments available are fit for all ages especially the middle-aged whose demand is higher than the other categories. Most of the raw materials used by the UK manufacturers are received from China’s supply. However, the merchandisers should plan the critical path early enough putting into consideration mother’s that China will be celebrating a new year. According to EWMFG (2016), the Chinese follow a lunar calendar; this means that 2017 will not start at the same time frame with the UK in January causing delays in imports requested. When the Mother’s Day is celebrated in March, the Chinese will have their New Year celebrations and all orders made during this time will be paused. Therefore, while setting the critical path, it is important for the countries to inform each other of their national calendars to avoid any future hampered shipment and orders.
The summer season in the UK is identified with the high temperatures calling for sheer and lightweight clothing. The garment fashion and design is switched to meet the environmental conditions from June until September. Manufacturing clothes for this season are simpler, as a result, the fashion buyers and merchants may take a low profile in making orders. The orders are placed at later days than expected and are likely to affect the critical path due to delivery delays. In the United Kingdom, the season is associated with graduations and Father’s Day the merchandise should be keen on the types of a garment in their stores. The customers during this period prefer to purchase the winter fashions since they are sold at affordable prices with the ongoing clearance of the previous trend upheld (Di, 2012). The fashion retailers strive to remove the stock of the past season for them to obtain funds for the next period.
Autumn is the most favorable season to the majority of the people in the UK. The garments put on this time of the year are comfortable and decent; individuals do not have to expose too much skin or dress bulky. In October, the people celebrate the Halloween season. The merchandiser should develop a budget using the critical path tool to establish when to purchase the fabrics and the quality of raw materials needed depending on the trends in the clothing sector. At the end of the year, Christmas rings a bell in December a period in which different occasions take place for example family come together, Thanksgiving among others. During this season, there is a lot of debate on which garment should be produced. The individuals require different clothes depending on the activities they will engage in and the demand. Therefore, the critical path has been identified as an essential tool in the fashion industry as it has significantly helped the merchandisers to be in control and properly organize the; suitable dates to switch production from one season to another, determining the type of garments to be used, delivery times, national holidays and sealing.
Part 3: Analyzing Visual Merchandising Techniques
The fashion outlets ensure that they are well dressed for them to attract more customers. The visual merchandise setup plays a vital role in achieving these, in the modern world the people are intrigued to purchase an item based on the fashion showcase presented. The increased competition in the fashion industry calls for the merchants to use visual merchandising techniques as a primary tool for new products. Dynamic changes in the consumer habits encourage the designers to be more creative and tactful on the appearance of the garment. Visual merchandising has been accredited with the success of increased sales and improvement of brand images. The visual language of customers is addressed through elements such as light and lighting, line and composition, color and texture, among other relevant aspects. Technology cannot be left out; the contributions of innovations serve a great deal in the fashion industry.
Change has taken different dimensions in the style environment, for a firm to have an exemplary performance using the visual merchandising tool the idea being implemented should be original. As a merchandiser, it is important to carry out an analysis of the various visual techniques to determine traditional skills and the innovative methods to be used. Rebecca Minkoff has been in the limelight with her creative idea of developing a signage store and fixtures having mirrors. The mirrors used the touch screen technology to help a customer to have a convenient and efficient time while shopping. It further, provided the customers ease access to the modern styles, requesting for a fitting and placing an order for the beverage.
Light and lighting should also be considered by a merchandiser since it can have either a negative or positive impact. Having a light control system may influence the mindset and the decision of a customer to purchase an individual garment. According to Jeon (2014), a clear lighting accessory magnifies the attractiveness of a garment thus may make a client to make impulse purchases. The mirrors also had the capacity of the shoppers to make a request for different sizes or color of the clothing by a press of a button.
Another innovation that showed outstanding performance in sales in a kid’s shoe store was established by Rippmann. As a designer, he developed a new display format for fixture boots that impressed the buyers while doing shopping. He made a cupboard compartment in which he uniquely arranged kid’s shoe in the retail shops. The spacing was proportionally structured to fit the different sizes of shoes.
The Victoria Secret brand expressed a primary function of visual merchandising (Victoria secret, 2016). By using its obvious merchandising tactic, it has grown prosperous to be one of the leading lingerie company. Their strategy involved showcasing the newly designed collections to the customers of different countries. The exhibition is called Victoria Secret Fashion Show; the organization invites a famous musician in the event making huge turn ups and sales. In this year, the event comprised of six new themes in Paris. The strategy used by the firm dominates around store layout, scent, and color. They target the individuals living in lavishing environment and sexy vibe. To determine whether an idea is innovative, the merchandiser should go through the past product designs and their visual presentation by the company. In the scenario where the proposed plan is already in the record, it is regarded as a tradition, not innovation. However, if the optical technique applied is now the public may still consider it as a tradition since they may have viewed a similar presentation in another store. To develop a unique display, the merchandiser needs to be creative to meet new brand image requirements.
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