Fashion Merchandising

Merchandising is a crucial part of textile and garment industry. In today’s world of fashion, merchandising plays a very important role in the sustainable growth and success of the business. The process of fashion merchandising needs to be incorporated by efficient personnel to achieve desired results. It creates the demand for the role of ‘Merchandiser’ for the garment industry.

The merchandiser should possess some distinct qualities to justify the role and responsibilities appropriately. There are various types of merchandisers required as per the type of industry and the working style of the business.

What is Fashion Merchandising?

The merchandising term comes from the word, “Merchandise”. It means the goods or commodities to be bought and sold in the market. For the textile and garment industry, merchandising is an important section which connects the two major departments – the Production department and the Marketing department of the business.

Merchandising is an arrangement of all necessary raw materials, to produce the goods from it, and make them available at the right place in the market to sell it to the customers.

Fashion merchandising refers to the planning of right merchandise, at the right place, at the right time, at the right price, in the right quantity to the right customer. If all the conditions are well planned and executed appropriately, it can result in earning the profit.

Fashion merchandising includes all the necessary activities ranging from fashion forecasting, sourcing materials, design and development of garments, making them available in the market in the right quantity to be bought by the customers. The merchandising process involves many different stages that are important to be followed to get planned results.

Process of Fashion Merchandising

The process of fashion merchandising includes all required steps starting from the order inquiry from the customer up to the dispatch and shipment of the order.

In the fashion industry, the merchandising process involves many important stages that need to be taken care of. A general process of fashion merchandising in the garment industry involves the below-mentioned steps.

In the apparel industry, it is very important to follow certain steps for the process of merchandising. In the case of order from the same country or for the export order, various steps should be followed correctly and on time to execute the planned strategies and to achieve desired results.

Order inquiry

The starting stage of fashion merchandising process is to receive an inquiry from the buyer. Here, the buyer means the retail store owner, wholesaler or importer from another country. Usually, the buyer inquires for the bulk order of the garments.

Sample development and costing – The next step of the process is sample development. The sample/s is/are designed and created as per the requirement of the buyer. Another important function is cost calculation. The costing involves every necessary cost required and incurred to develop and create the sample.

Price negotiation

After the sample development and costing of that sample, it is communicated with the buyer. The price negotiation takes place at this stage. The manufacturer quoted the price for a particular garment style/pattern created as per the requirement of the buyer. The buyer may negotiate with the manufacturer/merchandiser for the price of the product. The manufacturer and the buyer fix a price that suits both parties.

Order confirmation

After negotiating the price, the next step is an order confirmation. The buyer confirms the order; it includes the quantity of the garments, style/s, pattern/s, delivery time, mode of payment, etc.

Raw materials sourcing and receiving in the factory

Now, the merchandiser has to start the process for the manufacturing of the ordered garments. The raw materials, trims, accessories, etc. are bought by the manufacturer and received it at the factory. Some manufacturers used to do certain processes at their manufacturing plant or they have their other plants engaged in producing the raw materials, so they used to source it from their plant instead of buying it from other vendors.

Swatch card making and approval

The next step is swatch card making for the garments and they are sent to the buyer for approval.


PPM means Pre Production Meeting. PPM is an important meeting that takes place before starting the production of the garments in the factory. The buyer and the merchandiser and her/his team attend the meeting and discuss necessary agendas. Certain criteria get finalized in PPM and then the production process gets started.


The actual full-fledged production takes place after PPM. The garments get manufactured at the factory/ production plant as per the specifications from the buyer. Different patterns, styles, colours, sizes, quality, quantity, etc. needs to be taken care of while producing the products.

Collect daily production and daily quality report

The production of bulk order consumes time. It is required to maintain the speed of production as per the production plan and schedule. The daily production report and daily quality reports help in achieving set goals and planned targets on time. The progress of production work can be known with the help of reports. If there is any deviation found in actual production than the planned one, then corrective measures should be taken.

Final inspection

After completion of the production work, the final inspection of the goods takes place. Everything is being checked and moved to the next department.


The next step is packing and dispatching of goods. The shipping route depends on the delivery destination. The order can be from the same country or another country too. So, the route can be by road (truck, train, bus, etc,), by water (ship), by air (flight), etc. as decided by both parties.


The payment terms, conditions, and payment modes are discussed and decided in the early stage of the process. So, when the fashion merchandising process reaches the end of the final stage most of the payment part is cleared, and if there is any payment due, it is paid by the buyer to complete the whole transaction.

What is Merchandiser?

A merchandiser is a person engaged with the merchandising activity. He/she must be a creative thinker, a good communicator, and a capable planner and executor too. A merchandiser plays various roles at different stages of the fashion merchandising process. He/she looks after everything from market research, order analysis to shipment.

A merchandiser looks after many different activities like communicate with the buyer, design and sample development, costing and negotiation, production functions, documentation, payment, dispatch, shipping of the goods, etc. He/she is a bridge between the industry and the buyer.

Merchandiser should possess many different qualities to perform different tasks and roles. He/she is a part of various departments of the industry. Like, he/she is partly a designer who thinks creatively and innovatively, a marketer who markets and sells products, a communicator who communicates and negotiates with the buyer, an engineer who takes care of production, a computer expert who communicates and sells the products online, an entrepreneur – a multitasking person.

A merchandiser is an integral and important part of the fashion industry and the garment export industry too. The merchandising department plays a very important role in the smooth functioning of the industry. It links different departments of the industry.

Qualities of Merchandiser

Planning and execution ability

A merchandiser must be capable to prepare accurate plans and to execute it as per the schedule. The planning and execution of the plan are directly linked with the production and delivery of the ordered goods. All the activities must be properly planned and executed on time, otherwise, it affects the delivery time of the order.

Research ability

A merchandiser must have a sound market research ability. The business gets affected by the demands of the buyers, competition, latest trends that prevail in the markets, etc. So, the merchandiser must be capable of researching all the required aspects that affect the business directly or indirectly.

Creative thinking ability

A merchandiser must possess a creative and innovative mind. He/she is a part of the design team. The creative and different thinking ability can lead to creating a distinct and innovative design.

Decision making

A merchandiser must have a good decision making quality. It is important for the execution of plans and to get things done on time.

Convincing power

A merchandiser is a link between the industry and the buyer. He/she also works with the other team members. So the convincing ability is a must when one works with many people.


It is a very crucial quality for every human being. Particularly for the people who are engaged in business.

Business Communication skills

A merchandiser must possess good oral as well as written communication quality to maintain sound business relations.

Enough knowledge of the garment industry

It is necessary to have sound knowledge of the garment industry to work as a merchandiser. If a person has enough knowledge and up to date information regarding the garment industry, he/she can play the role of merchandiser.

Coordination and cooperation

A merchandiser is a link between different departments of the industry. He/she has to coordinate and cooperate with various people to justify the role of merchandiser and to get things done on time. So the qualities like coordinating with different teams and working together with cooperation are required.

Functions of Merchandiser

A merchandiser has to play various roles and has to complete many different tasks. There are various functions of a garment merchandiser which should be carried out with responsibility. The functions of a merchandiser are given below.

  • Manage internal and external business communication
  • Do market research and be up to date with current market trends
  • Grab business opportunities
  • Generate inquiries and convert them into orders
  • Be a part of the design team and develop new garment designs, styles, and samples
  • Garment costing for the order
  • Negotiation with the buyer
  • To manage lab dips, swatch cards, etc.
  • Sourcing of raw materials, trims, and accessories
  • Be a part of production planning, scheduling and execution of the same
  • Monitoring and controlling in-house production activities and to take follow-up of subcontract work given outside, if any
  • Preparing production progress reports and communication with the buyer as well as the top-level management
  • Attending meetings and incorporating the decisions taken in the
  • meeting for the merchandising
  • Mediating the production, quality, and marketing departments
  • Helping documentation and finance departments
  • Assisting and advising inspection, packing, and finishing work
  • Giving shipping instructions and tracking the shipping to deliver the order on time

Types of Merchandisers

A merchandiser plays a very important role in an apparel and garment industry. Various types of merchandisers are divided based on their work. The types of merchandisers are given below:

Fashion Merchandiser

A fashion merchandiser is a person who looks after fashion merchandising activities. The fashion merchandising involves different activities starting from fashion forecasting to retail sales of garments.

A fashion merchandiser’s tasks are:

  • Fashion forecasting
  • Design development and approval
  • Sample planning and development
  • Product specification
  • Merchandise planning
  • Buying

Apparel Production or Export Merchandiser

A production merchandiser or an export merchandiser is the one who looks after all the apparel export merchandising activities. It involves many activities beginning from communication with buyer up to the dispatch and delivery of the order on time considering the six rights – right merchandise, right place, right time, right quantity, right price, and right promotion.

The tasks of a production or export merchandiser are as below:

  • Communication with buyer
  • Receiving the order
  • Planning and execution of plans
  • Material sourcing
  • Production
  • Quality checking and control
  • Finishing
  • Packing
  • Final inspection
  • Shipment

Apparel Retail Merchandiser

An apparel retail merchandiser manages all the retail merchandising activities. It involves direct selling of the products to the end customers for personal or non-business use. The retail merchandiser sells directly to the individual customers, usually, the quantity is less and the merchandiser plays the role of mediator between the wholesaler and the customer.

Tasks of a retail merchandiser:

  • Assessing local customers
  • Selecting a fashion image
  • Buying the merchandise
  • Receiving and stocking the merchandise
  • Display
  • Sales promotion
  • Sales evaluation

Visual Merchandiser

Visual merchandising is an art of displaying and arranging the merchandise in such a way that attracts the customers. The customers usually see the product before buying it. If the products are displayed well in different ways it ultimately attracts more customers. The visual merchandiser’s main duty is to look after VM (Visual Merchandising).

For a good and attractive VM, the visual merchandiser has to go for several tasks:

  • Planning and execution of merchandise theme
  • Making seasonal VM display
  • Selection of suitable merchandise for display
  • The decision of style and number of VM displays
  • Evaluation of VM effects for future planning and scheduling
  • Comparative study of VM display of competitors

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