Who is a Merchandiser in Apparel Industry?
Apparel merchandiser is like a bridge between the buyer and industry. He/She is a person who communicates with the buyer and the primary occupation is to accomplish the work according to the necessity of the customer and dispatch the completed products to the buyer’s destination on time. Apparel merchandiser 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. It is said that “merchandising is nothing but everything”. It means as a merchandiser is responsible for everything while he/she does not doing any jobs actively. He/she interacts and coordinates different jobs which are discussed below.
Role and Responsibilities of Merchandiser in Apparel Industry:
Duties and responsibilities of garment merchandiser in apparel industry are described below.
1. Advertising or sales promotion:
An apparel merchandiser has to source various samples for buyer. In general buyer predefines what they want and as a merchandiser has to arrange same sample for buyer. In some cases, it is free to merchandiser, merchandiser arranges various samples and they present to buyer. In some cases, merchandiser attends in various trade-fair and presents their product’s sample to buyer. These are the basic advertising or sales promotion strategies appeal industry takes to catch buyer.
2. Proto sample order enquiry:
This stage in which the buyer will enquire with the merchant about the new order.
3. Forwarding tech pack:
When the order enquiry has been done, then the buyer will send a “Tech Pack” or technical specification sheet to the merchant. Tech pack includes all the details of a style and which includes the items as follows:
- Product style design
- Style code
- Surface ornamentation details, etc.
4. Product development:
- It is one of the important jobs of the merchandiser. Once the ‘Tech Pack’ is received, the merchandiser will arrange the tech pack details in a format by dividing various styles and its details of the garment.
- He advises the junior merchandisers regarding the specification details and requirements of the buyer.
- This will help the junior merchandisers to assist the sampling department manager / coordinator.
- The sample is developed based on the requirements of the customer. The effective communication between the different levels of people plays a vital role in sample development.
5. Approval of the developed sample:
- After the sample development, 2–3 samples are sent to the buyer for approval of the style.
- The main objective of the development sample is, the buyer will understand how the garment style looks with the specific details / they will estimate the manufacturer’s capacity and ability to produce the sample for their line.
- The samples are prepared with the available fabric in store which closely resembles the exact requirement. This will help the buyer to understand the manufacturer’s ability. Sometimes, to receive the order, the merchandiser also develops the sample with original fabric.
- In sample development, surface ornamentations and fit are followed as per the tech pack. If some correction is to be done then the buyer will send the correction details and again the samples are reworked / developed again and sent to the buyer. This process will be continued till the sample gets approved.
- Once the sample approval is received from the buyer, then the merchandiser will perform the garment costing
- It is done by calculating various costs incurred to make a garment style. It consists of various factors like:
- Fabric cost
- Trims and accessories cost
- Washing or finishing cost
- Bank charges
- Buffer value
- Miscellaneous costs like rejection cost, wastage, etc.
7. Order placement:
- Based on the finalized pricing value, the costing “quote” will be sent to buyer. The price quote provided by the company is not necessary to be accepted by the buyers and there will be a negotiation between both the parties.
- Once final costing or re-costing is done and the same is accepted by the buyer, the buyer will place the order with the required order quantity and other main details to the merchant.
8. Fabric and trims ordering:
- Once the order is accepted by the buyer, the order will be placed officially to the particular manufacturing firm.
- Immediately merchandiser will place the order for required raw materials like fabric, trims, accessories, etc. as per the color, GSM, weave, quantity, quality, etc. which is required for the style.
- The merchandiser will also forward the requirement sheet to the purchase department by advising them to place orders with the suppliers.
9. Lab dip:
- The first process after the order acceptance is lab dip where the merchandiser will send the samples of dyed fabric to the buyer for color analysis.
- The submission of fabric/ lab dip includes many shades of the color which the buyer has asked for the garment.
- The lab dip approval is the critical process, this process will be continued till the shades get approved from the buyer. This approved shade will be used for the bulk dyeing of fabric for final garment production.
10. Fit sample:
- After the approval of lab dip from the buyer, the first sample for the provided specification is developed by the company which is known as FIT sample.
- This sample generally developed with the actual fabric or available fabric close to the buyer requirement will be used. The sample generally will be developed for a medium size. The main objective of this sample is to check the fit.
- Once the sample is submitted, the buyer evaluates the sample measurements, fit aspects and they will give feedback to the merchandiser for revision.
- The buyer returns fit approvals sheet which contains all the actual measurements and required measurements and how much deviation has occurred for the purpose of correction.
- Totally three pieces are made, all of which are sent to the buyer and sent back to merchandiser after approval. Once this is approved, the order is confirmed.
11. Pre-production samples:
- Once the fit samples are approved, then the pre-production (PP) samples or the red seal samples are made. PP sample will have all the specific details of the style with the exact fabric, color, trims, surface, ornamentations, etc.
- The sample developed plays a vital role in the order confirmation process because this is the main step where the sample has to look exactly as per the buyer’s requirement. Around 2–3 samples (in four sizes each) are sent to buyer for the approval and buyer can advise any corrections if required.
12. Size set samples:
- Till the pre-production sample, the sample may be prepared in the sample department of the company. But after this stage for the size set sample, mostly the buyer recommends the merchandiser to produce in the actual manufacturing unit.
- Size set samples are made for the purpose of checking the different sizes of the same style in terms of fit, measurements, styling, etc.
- It is also made to check whether the assigned unit is able to produce that style as per the specs. Three sets are made for all sizes. It is done in original fabric.
13. Pre-production meeting (PPM):
- Once all the samples are approved and all raw materials are ready in the store to start the bulk production, the pre production meeting will be arranged by the merchandiser.
- Pre-production meeting will be conducted with all the department heads and important personnel of the company to plan the process, so that delay can be avoided.
- Here the merchants will discuss with the production heads on how the production can be scheduled and done within the required time. So this meeting is important and inevitable.
14. Forwarding of production file to production planning and control:
Production file is a document which includes all the details of a particular style. This document is prepared by the merchandiser. Production file is forwarded to PPC (production planning and control) once the PP sample is approved, along with the file, merchandiser will forward the approved PP sample also. Some of the details in the production file include the following items:
- Export order sheet
- Color details
- Style description
- Packing type
- Print/embroidery instructions, material requirement sheet category, item, position, color, size, consumption, unit in kilograms, quantity, total quantity
- Job details for computer aided patter making (lectra) and fabric order
- Marker plan
- TNA order sheet
- 2D style diagram and trims
- Packing information
15. Checking the availability of fabrics and trims:
Once the file is received by the PPC, they will check and study each and every detail in the file and they will also check the availability status of the fabric and trims in the store. They will follow-up on the same if it’s not yet reached in the house.
16. Checking the surface ornamentation of the particular style:
Surface ornamentation may include embroidery, printing or appliqué and these are done as per the buyer’s requirement, so PPC will check the ornamentation details and plans according to that and in parallel arrange all the required things for the same.
17. Checking the status of stitching materials in-house:
Stitching materials are those which are used for sewing like threads and accessories which assist production so in parallel they will do the arrangement for the stitching materials in-house.
18. Checking the patterns with master:
- Production file includes all the details about the patterns and merchants will forward the original patterns along with the production file to the PPC.
- Once they receive the patterns, they will forward the patterns to the pattern master and master will cross check the pattern with the actual and confirm.
19. Grading and final cross check:
- Once everything is checked and confirmed by the master then, the pattern is forwarded to the CAD (computer aid design) department for grading. Grading is a process of making different sizes from a basic size.
- When the file is forwarded to PPC, only one size pattern will be provided and grading is done for other sizes. Finally, the graded pattern will be cross checked and confirmed with the master.
20. Laying and cutting:
- Laying is a process in which a huge lot of fabric lots are laid flat in several plies as per the marker plan’s length.
- In this process, based on the order quantity, the length of the lay, the number of lays and the type of the lay to be spread will be instructed by the production planning department. After laying the pattern, the developed pattern lay-out obtained from the marker plan is used to cut the materials.
- After cutting, the cut fabrics are sent to washing if the program requires or else it can be directly passed to next stage like printing or embroidery.
- During the washing, the merchandiser should monitor the quality requirements and ensure proper delivery requirements in terms of both quantity and time.
22. Bit printing/appliqué/embroidery:
- When the garment wash is finished, then the bundles will be sent for printing/applique/embroidery if the style demands.
- Surface ornamentation is done on cut pieces rather than in full garment. This is because it reduces the risk of spoiling the whole garment if some defects occurred during printing or so. If defect happens in cut pieces that can be replaced, then less fabric wastage happens.
23. Loading in line:
- Once the surface ornamentation process is over on cut pieces, the pieces will be bundled and passed to sewing department. Here the merchandiser needs to follow-up on the correct schedule of the loading.
- If any delay occurs, it is merchandiser’s responsibility to get the targets on the date. He should take remedial measures to overcome the shortfall on the production in different means.
- Once the whole garment is stitched and collected in the end of the line, then the same will be forwarded to the finishing section.
- In finishing section, the garments will be checked for defects, loose threads are trimmed and pressed with steam and then packed as per the requirement.
- In each point, the merchandiser should coordinate with the production in charge and he should make sure that the customer’s requirements were obtained without any deviations.
It is the last and final tasks of an apparel merchandiser.
- Dispatch is the end process in which the garments are packed in the cartons and shipped.
- It is merchandiser’s responsibility to check the availability of required documents for logistics and shipping process.
Apparel merchandiser advises various instructions to the commercial department about collecting order to shipment of a garment export order. By maintaining those instructions, commercial department will ship the products to the buyer. Merchandiser is the key to provide demanded product to buyer. With the cooperation of production team, merchandiser creates massive opportunity in Apparel Industry. Buyer mostly engages with those organizations which merchandising team is efficient and well organized. A well organized and efficient merchandising team not only helps to develop a well organized and efficient organization but also it impacts actively to develop a well organized and efficient industry.
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Editor of Fashion2Apparel. She is a fashion designer and ex-lecturer in Fashion Designing. She wants to spread fashion knowledge throughout the world.