Saturday, September 27, 2014
The term ‘merchandising’ has always been a magic word and hot pick of the cake in the field of apparel and fashion merchandising. Most of the persons who want to pursue a career in the apparel field want to become a merchandiser. What makes this so much attractive and important is – reputation, responsibility and career growth. It involves all the activities right from A – Z communication to execution, in the apparel industry and the ‘Merchandiser’ is the person who takes care of all these activities. A good merchandiser has the attributes of hard work, sincerity, loyalty, team work, manager, negotiation etc. Customer satisfaction and retention is mainly depends on effective and efficient merchandising.
A merchant is a person or trader who normally buys and sells the goods or merchandise. But at this era of high competition merely buying and selling is not enough survive and stay successful in the business. Earlier days the business was supplier or seller oriented and there was more customer loyalty but now days it is customer centric and the customer loyalty is very less. Now the customers have more options to make decision on the purchase of the product. So a merchant has to plan and do several activities so that he stays competitive and successful in the business.
The planning and activities may include the decisions on several factors. Suppose a person wants to start a garment retail store then he has to make plans and decisions on the following factors –
Target customers – The customers to whom the store wants to attract or serve or cater. Ex. Men’s Ladies, kids, Youth etc.
Store image – The personality or image that store wants to present to the public or customers. For ex. Raymond’s – for executive class men.
What type of product – The range and type of products that store is going to sell. Ex. Woven or knitted. If it is woven then whether it is formals or casuals or both etc.
How much to buy – An important decision on the value and quantity of the goods that is to be purchased and kept for inventory and sales. This is also called as “Assortment planning”.
- Category wise : men’s, ladies etc.
- Design and style wise : Formals, Casuals etc.
- Size wise : S, M, L, XL etc.
- Color wise Red, Blue etc.
Poor planning may lead to poor sales and stock outs and it leads to mark – downs or discount sales etc.
When to buy – The procurement of goods for sales in the stores for various seasons and the time or period the goods should be available in the store before the season or festival. The goods should arrive in the store at the right time before the season.
If the goods arrive in the store too early then the problem is that the goods may become outdate or old fashioned one and also there is an unnecessary investment on the inventory.
If the goods arrive lately say 15 days before the season, and then the problem may be that most of the customers might have completed their purchase which results in poor sales and consequent unsold stocks. So the merchant has to make sure that the goods arrive at the store at right time.
Where to buy – The decision on from which place the goods should be purchased. The goods for the store should be purchased from the specialized places which are meant for the particular type of goods so that we can get good quality goods with more styles and designs and also more number of suppliers available, will give us good price and better services.
From whom to buy – The decision on form which suppliers the goods to be purchased. The supplier should be reputed one with good quality and service conscious and also should able to give continuous supply. Even if the price is slightly higher always do business with the reputed suppliers.
How to buy – The decision on purchase of goods whether in credit or cash basic. Mostly business is carried out in credit basis. For normal demand goods it is better to do purchase in cash basis. In cash purchase we can get low price and the goods can be sold at high margin within a short period of time.
Promotional plan – The decision on promotional plan is also a crucial decision in this competitive business. Now day’s even small stores are spending more on promotional activities. The promotional activities include advertisements, sponsorships, displays, special promotional events etc. and also the selection of Medias for the promotion like TV, Radio, newspapers, magazines, local TV, bill boards, catalogues, door to door etc. Constant and continuous reminder and awareness of the store and its products has become the need of the hour today.
Customer service – Customer service has become an inevitable part of any business today. The services are now being provided before the purchase, in-short and after sales is done. This may include gifts, prize coupons, free delivery, credit card, free service, warranty etc. Good customer service gives the competitive advantages in the business.
All the above decisions are very much important for a store and even all the decisions and plans are said to be successful only if they fulfill the customer needs so that the customers are satisfied.
So, merchandising may be generally defined as “all the planning and activities involve in bring the goods or merchandise for sales to the customers so that it fulfills the customer needs ultimately brings customer satisfaction.”