The apparel industry is also known as the garment industry or clothing industry and it is a part of the fashion industry. It is dealing with fashion garments and designer clothes. The apparel industry is very huge and new trends and fashions are at its base. People like to buy and wear newfashioned and trendy clothes. Fashion apparels are available and sold at retail stores in small quantities with a wide range of varieties to the final customers.
The apparel industry is a highly growing industry nowadays. The retail sector is becoming a large and important contributor to the economy. The retail merchandise means the goods/products that are available in small quantity to be sold to the end user/ final customer for their use and not for reselling purpose.
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Fashion designers and apparel manufacturers produce fashion merchandise and the retail shops sell it to the public. They have to keep one eye on the forecasting, market trends, customer’s demand and another eye on planning, designing, production and selling.
The manufacturers produce the products and they sell them to wholesalers in a bulk quantity. The wholesaler sells large quantities of products to the retailers. The retailers sell a small number of products to the final user/ consumers. This is a basic supply chain of goods/ products in the market.
In the apparel industry, the function of merchandising is done by an expert known as merchandiser or fashion merchandiser or apparel merchandiser. The merchandiser plays a role as a mediator between the producer/designer and the customer.
Types of Apparel Retail Merchandising
There are various types of apparel retail merchandising; which are as below:
A peddler is a person who goes door-to-door or place-to-place for selling small products.
Peddlers were playing a major role in ancient times for selling goods. Earlier there was no availability of big shops with proper formats and organised structures for trade. At that time peddlers were the people who used to bring products in their bags and go around door-to-door for selling the products.
The general and retail stores were available in towns, so the people who lived in the town were able to get the necessary things form that stores. But, the places which were far from the towns, and remote places where there was no availability of general stores, they required another type of retailer. The people from such remote places welcomed peddlers with their bags full of necessities and luxuries.
The peddlers used to carry and sell small items to people. The products like pins, ribbons, threads, combs, shoes, pots and pans, laces, etc.
The peddlers also used to bring news, information about the latest trends and fashion in the cities. The people who lived in remote places were eagerly waiting for peddlers, the new products and interesting information about the city brought by peddlers. The peddlers generally took orders for next trip, although the route was so long that it might take a year between two trips of a peddler
The peddler also gave feedback and reported the producers about the likes and dislikes of the people. He also took the information regarding the product which made people happy or disappointed them. Thus, the peddler became the first “market analyst”. So, the peddlers were playing a very important role in selling products to the customers at far and remotely situated places. The peddlers were the mediators between the producers and customers.
Gradually the business and nation grew; the requirements of the people also grew simultaneously. The peddlers used to bring clothes, shoes and boots and other items to sale. Then as time passed, development took place, and the peddlers disappeared.
The peddlers were replaced by a travelling salesman. The travelling salesman took a sample of merchandise to shops and door-to-door along with them to get orders. The main benefit of these techniques is the sample, which can be shown and it can increase the chances of getting orders.
The door-to-door selling technique is used in recent times also, but it is limited up to certain products only. Cosmetic products are probably the most sold fashion merchandise by this method.
The salesperson sell apparel merchandise in recent time, but it is helpful in rural or under-developed areas only. They usually bring different types of apparel merchandise like – dress materials, sarees, kurti, ready-made blouses, tops and jeans etc.
General Merchandise Store
A general merchandise store is a small retail store which offers many household items at the same place. These are the stores which can be found at any corner of the residential area. People can easily access it from their home because it is situated in a nearby area. It provides a wide range of products like pen, paper, colours, types of stationery items, toys, hardware items, bakery products, gift items, sometimes it also offers clothes, readymade garments, kitchenware, plastic ware, etc.
The shopkeeper sales all merchandise generally at retail prices with nominal profit for every item. So, it is necessary to sell more quantities to get a large amount of profit. The shop owner buys from a wholesaler and sells products to the customers.
General merchandise stores have their own social importance (mainly in the rural area). People usually visit and buy the necessities from a general merchandise store on a regular basis. So, there is a social significance of it. People usually visit it and also discuss daily affairs there. The store owner also usually knows most of his regular customers as they visit the store frequently.
In recent time, the general merchandise stores are facing trouble. Recently the mall culture is growing rapidly. Many of the stores shut down because of the mall, supermarket or hypermarket opened in a nearby area. People usually like to visit and purchase from mall or supermarket because of the ambience, lower price of the products, discount offers and comfort, etc.
Chain Departmental Stores
A chain departmental store is a large retail store with varieties of merchandises. There are different departments for various merchandises like apparel, footwear, accessories, jewellery etc. A chain department store can be owned and managed by one company’s branches or it can be owned and managed individually through the franchise process. It is a retail outlet with multiple locations, central management and a brand.
A chain departmental store can have a large area and different departments for men’s wear, ladies‟ wear, kids‟ wear, different departments for men’s footwear, ladies‟ footwear, kids‟ footwear, accessories department, etc. The staff of the store that works in the individual department is supposed to have experience and knowledge regarding merchandises available there.
People can get the benefit of multiple merchandises at a single place. Different varieties of apparel, accessories like bags, belt etc. can be made available at the same place in different departments. So, it becomes easy to access many things in a single place.
Examples of chain departmental stores are – Lifestyle, Pantaloons, Louse Philippe, Brand Factory, Shoppers Stop, etc.
Mail Order Sellers
A mail order seller is the one who sales merchandise through sending mails to people. Mail-Order selling is also known as Catalogue selling. It is an attractive selling technique via mail. One can sell merchandise through this technique without having a large space or main location to showcase the merchandise
The mail order seller can send the mail regarding the apparel merchandise or any other merchandise to the suitable customer. Here, the catalogue that is sent via mail must be attractive enough to catch the attention and interest of people. The content and design of the catalogue should appeal to the customer.
There are various benefits of mail-order selling available likeability to reach thousands of people at a time via mail only, no need to wait for the customers to come to you, just send a purposefully designed catalogue to the potential customer via mail. It can save advertising cost if targeted and controlled mailing techniques are used. There are chances to convert a potential customer into a regular and loyal customer by this technique.
There are some disadvantages of mail-order selling that it takes many sincere efforts to win the trust and loyalty of customers. If proper care is not taken for the selection of potential customers and target market, then it can increase the cost of advertising and efforts also.
A mail-order seller has to incur an initial expense for production and printing of catalogues, and purchase list of potential customers to generate sales. In recent time, data is the currency. So, it plays a very important role to have data from prospective customers.
In the current era of the Internet, selling through websites, mobile applications, social media marketing and e-mail marketing has grabbed the major chunk of the market. So, mail-order selling has become an old selling technique. The sellers should cope up with the latest trends and have to adopt the latest techniques for selling the merchandise.
The apparel retail merchandises are sold through social media, various mobile applications websites, etc. It attracts the youth most and encourages them to buy garments online.
Boutique is a French word; it means the “shop”
A boutique means a small shop that sells customised fashionable clothes or accessories. It generally sells luxury products which are custom made.
A boutique is a small speciality store which produces a limited number of fashion garments. The space that a boutique occupies is small in comparison to a retail apparel store. A retail apparel store usually deals in a large number of product assortments with a wide range of varieties. So, it requires a large space to display all merchandises. Whereas a boutique deals with specially designed and produced garments, usually customised garments for high-end clients.
A boutique is owned and managed by a designer or a proprietor and a team that works and coordinates with each other. A designer with skills and dreams to fulfil the passion can establish and manage a boutique. A boutique is generally engaged in creating innovative, stylish and different kinds of apparels. The high-end buyers usually want to have specially designed and one-of-a-kind clothes. So, the boutiques are there to satisfy their needs and requirements. The prices charged for specially designed boutique pieces are relatively high. The boutique pieces are customised as per the requirements of the individual customer.
The interior, exterior and display of a boutique play a very important role. It attracts and appeals the customers to visit and buy from the boutique. The arrangements of garments, the ambience of the boutiques are usually very creative and eye-catching. The designer pieces displayed at the boutique are also very attractive and one-of-a-kind.
A fashion designer has special entrepreneurial skills and passion for his/her boutique. Generally, it is seen that any particular designer has his/her own distinct style of working. A special signature style can be there which we can see in a designer’s work. For example, Manish Malhotra with signature style Lehenga. Traditional bridal wear with embroidery, gota work and zari work are especially associated with his work.