A fashion merchandiser (also referred to as a buyer or merchant) plays an important role in any retail organization. A merchandiser occupies both creative and financial roles. Although different companies may assign different types of responsibilities to a merchandiser, certain components are part of a fashion merchandiser's job, no matter the size of company or type of fashion product bought.
A fashion merchandiser is responsible for selecting the merchandise that will sell in stores. This merchandise must be in alignment with the company's brand image. The merchant must choose trend-right merchandise that is also appropriate for the target customer's fashion level. This requires knowledge of current and future fashion trends -- both high-fashion from the runway and mass-market trends.
Meeting financial objectives is the primary component of a fashion merchandiser's job. The merchandiser must maintain profitability by meeting certain financial plans set for each season. All merchandise bought must be appropriate for the customer and offered at a reasonable yet profitable price. A merchandiser's performance review will be partially based on the profit margin reached, rates of merchandise turnover and sales volume.
In order to offer an appealing assortment, a merchant must be intimately familiar with the needs and wants of the target customer. This is accomplished by spending time in stores, even working full shifts in them. A merchandiser should research fashion trends, read trade newspapers, and follow the semi-annual runway shows. A merchandiser should also spend time in competitors' stores, study other retailers' merchandise and track when they deliver new assortments.
Visual merchandising refers to the display of items in stores, including signage and marketing materials. When buying goods, a merchandiser must always think of how items will be shown. This involves determining which types of fixtures and folding methods will be necessary to properly house merchandise. Visual merchandising is important because sales can be negatively affected if items are not displayed correctly.
Administrative work isn't the most exciting of tasks that a merchandiser must perform, but it is essential. A great deal of paperwork is necessary to take a product from its initial concept to arrival in the store. A buyer may file buy sheets, purchase orders, price ticket info and marketing materials. All must be completed with an extreme attention to detail.
- The Fashion Handbook; Tim Jackson and David Shaw; 2006
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