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By: Ms. Divya Satyan
whilst for others the job was only follow up of the confirmed orders.The New Avatar By: Ms. Divya Satyan Abstract Over the years of the growth of merchandising as a discipline in the export industry. In the burgeoning market of apparel exports 80`s. It has changes from a simple to a much more complex job transcending almost all departments and functions in an export house. This can . Gradually. On one hand the merchandiser had the job of getting orders and had to execute them. Merchandising function was often assigned to fresh graduated of any discipline who were capable of responding to the queries of the customers in the English language. But the dependency on the technicians was inevitable.Export Merchandiser. donning the role of production coordinator in the same breath. The merchandisers had often been used as glorified clerks with the job focusing on passing the information received from one source to another without any ‘value addition’ to it. No other qualification was largely sought from them as the work was primarily decentralized and the merchants needed little technical knowledge. Article Merchandising has been to a large extent a function which was never clearly defined not distinctly performed in the Indian Apparel export industry of old. This has led to a change in the skills required for the job and evolution of the discipline of export merchandising. this role gained importance as over the years specialized training was given in these areas in institutes like NIFT catering to the needs of the fashion business. there have been many changes in the job profile of the merchandiser.
To coordinate with factories and buyers very closely to ensure that all the samples and bulk production are shipped on time as per the quality parameters set by the buyer 2. 2004 Fig 1 . fit samples. etc. fabrics. and styling for the forthcoming season which can be obtained from the buyers. Coordinating with factories for submits such as yarns/ lab dips. 6.How important is the merchandiser to the manager This transformed the merchandising function and the job definition became much clearer. it is very important that the merchandiser also get involved in the process as they need to ensure that all comments made by the . sourcing merchandisers should work with mills. According to a study conducted by NIFT students in 2004 the following were the job requirements of the merchandisers in the pre millennia era 1. Merchandisers need to be meticulous. 4. desk loom. Even though quality checks and production supervision at the floor level is the responsibility of QA/QC. pre-production samples. foreign counterparts of buying agencies and from fashion/clothing magazines that cover the latest fashion shows conducted in different parts of the world. bulk fabrics. Merchandisers need to have updated information on colors.be judged by the results of a survey of the apparel industry published in Apparel online cited below Im portant Very Im portant Absolutely Crucial Source: Apparel Online. Based on this information. update the records/system on time and need to systematically follow up with factories and buyers. 5. fabric sources and export houses for new developments. 3.
Post the new millennia and the 2004 quota free era.It is one of the most important functions performed by the merchandiser. getting samples approved and following up on production. the merchandiser became an indispensable unit in this phase in the export cycle. managing and handling not only the follow up of the orders but the entire supply chain. Cross check samples at the pilot run. then procuring the orders. Merchandisers should perform the role of a product technologist. In an attempt to adjust to the changing global scenario. 8. buyer contact is maintained. proto. With the new challenges of Globalization facing the small and medium size companies. more companies are vying towards a more streamlined approach towards their communication and merchandising functions.buyers on the samples submitted prior to production i. pre-production samples are implemented in the actual product. the role of the merchant has become further defined. there has been a fresh change in the working of the Indian apparel exporter. The buyer contact has to be kept at both pre and post shipment stages. Buyer contact and communication: . inline and midline and keep a track of dayto-day production output based on the status given by the factory as well as the stationed QCs. Added on are the qualities required in this changing environment to face the threats thrown in by the globalization as well as the IT boom. From the time of initiating the contact to making the sale. 7. The main role and responsibility of a merchandiser 1. Separate merchants now handle product development. fit. order enquiry and costing negotiations. Due to this definition of the job. It is because of his/her link with the buyer that the . sampling and production follow up in an attempt to provide better value and service to the customer.e. The role of the merchant has thus undergone some more changes.
the buyer expects the vendor to be a partner in product development almost as a mandatory requirement. style. Product development: . To be able to do this he/she requires having thorough source market and product knowledge and advice and updating the buyer on the latest developments and possibilities. With growing importance of vendor partnerships. the price competition is costing at and the profit planning of the organization. or. Participation in trade fairs. price points.merchandiser is synonymous as a buyer’s representative within the organization. it is necessary to bear in mind the buyers price point requirements and his (the buyers) end consumer as well. the merchandiser is also required to cost and price the product.Following the functions of product development and pricing the next area of function for a merchandiser is the actual selling of a product range or “getting the buyer to buy”. therefore be aware of the characteristics of the buyer and the end consumer from the point of view of market segment. Selling and booking of orders: . The merchandiser must. fashion preferences. Apart from this.merchandise or product development is the next area of function of a merchandiser. Thus the success of an export organization largely depends on the efficiency of the merchandiser’s ability to handle and maintain buyer contact.In continuation of the function of the product development. and similarly to the buyer he represents his own organization. Above all. he/she must also be able to gauge the seasonality of the product and therefore understand color trends. The costing is done keeping in mind the cost of the various raw materials used. 4. on sales trips abroad. buyer. silhouettes and fabric forecast. 2. To be able to carry out this function successfully and efficiently a merchandiser needs to understand and know his buyers requirements completely and thoroughly. At the same time. Costing and pricing of merchandise: . through the entire process of carrying out this function he/she has to constantly keep the commercial viability of his product in perspective. age groups. Buying meetings are held with the buyer either in the country of origin of the products. 3. the operating cost of the company.seller meets and other marketing .
5.techniques are used to gain orders. Basic economics and world trade knowledge. 8. Selling is also done through various buying representations of the buyer within the country. Because of the level of interface between the buyer and the merchandiser. at all times he has to control quality from a commercial viability angle. The merchandiser is also required to keep the buyer up-to-date on the status and progress of his order through the production process through weekly updates. the merchandiser is best equipped to instruct the production department about the product requirement of the buyer. 6. The knowledge of the IT applications and training thereof. Production follow. However. it therefore becomes the merchandiser’s responsibility to ensure that the product meets with the buyers quality requirements.up on production. Quality control: . .As the merchandisers interface with the buyer is frequent and ongoing. Also given below are some of the suggestions in the process that can help in reducing the lead times for the process and gaining additional time for performing well on quality and service front. The merchandiser is required to do random quality checks on the merchandise at various stages of production. The process flow of a typical export house functioning is as detailed below and merchandising finds its place in the entire process today.up: .Once the orders are booked the merchandiser is required to follow. 7.
proto. Resend the sample by incorporating all comments Different washing options helps in speedy approvals from the buyer *** Fabrics and accessories in-house before 30 days from the date of shipment If the vendor has a vertical set-up then there is a saving of atleast 10 to 15 days in sourcing of fabrics Start production End production Inspection and freighting to Buyer’s destination Post production Follow Up Feed Back Further order enquiries Process Flow for the preproduction activities in a typical export house . Pre-production. size-set. etc.* Buyer sends the tech pack to the merchandisers to develop the sample at the initial enquiry stage A marketing and designing team can show the samples developed in-house in the buyers’ country and can work with them in developing and understanding new styles Style possible No Try convincing Reject the buyer by providing different feasible alternatives Yes Merchant Sends the quotes and the development samples with different options as per the tech pack received Fabrics and accessories ordered Order confirmed Client’s feedback: Sample change request "Best quality at the first time” reduces the time taken for all the sample approvals Wash approvals are done after the first lot of original fabric is in-house ** Send other samples as per the revised tech pack viz.
it will become even more essential to keep the skill set honed to the changing requirements of the market if survival is to be guaranteed. About the Author The author is Associate Professor. In the present scenario of reducing lead times.NIFT. National Institute of Fashion Technology. it can be easily ascertained that the skills required to fulfill the many faceted job profile of an apparel export house merchandiser have undergone some drastic changes. Chennai. recession hitting the very core of manufacturing activities. Reference: Diploma project of Namit Nigam and Vineet Kumar Choubey. . Chennai 2004 under the guidance of the Author. Department of Fashion Technology. Centre Coordinator. Add on the burgeoning retail sector and the new dimension of the retail house merchandisers. the export house merchandisers need to create a niche for themselves very distinct from other merchandising jobs.In conclusion. Sem IV students.