In merchandising, sourcing raw materials is one of the most important tasks for the merchandisers. In this case merchandisers have to apply skillful strategy for sourcing. Soon after getting the technical package sheet (simply known as tech pack), merchandisers drive for arranging all the required raw materials including fabrics and trims & accessories. They first check the order detail especially the technical requirements with specifications. Then calculate the materials consumption for the order at hand. Next, merchandisers initiate sourcing activities. Before going to the sourcing strategy, let’s discuss garment merchandising, trims and accessories in brief.
The word merchandising comes from “merchandise” which means “product”. So originally, merchandising refers to all the activities involved in selling the product/item/merchandises. There are a lot of merchandising definitions in the literature, but practically merchandising can be defined as the process of executing an order from receiving to shipment through proper following-up all the in-between processes. That means, garment merchandising covers all the activities from order receiving to delivering the garments to the ultimate buyers. But it is important to keep in mind that, merchandisers do not produce anything directly rather ensure the production with the required quality and within a certain time-frame (lead time). So, it can be told that merchandising process involves of at least three parties: (i) buyer- who requires the garments and place the orders, (ii) factories-who produce the garments and (iii) merchandisers-who work between the buyers and manufacturing factories.
Fashion Customer or Buyer → Garment Merchandiser → Vendor or Garment Manufacturing factories
Trims and Accessories:
A wide variety of raw materials are required along with the fabrics to produce the garments. These raw materials except fabrics required for producing the garment are commonly known as the trims & accessories. Furthermore, there is a slight but important difference between the trims and accessories. The raw materials that are essential to make/sew the garments are called trims. For example, sewing thread, button, zipper, etc. are trims. On the other hand, raw materials that are required to prepare the produced garments presentable for sale, are termed as the accessories. For instance, carton, polybag, hanger, hang-tags etc. are some of the commonly used garment accessories.
Effective Sourcing Strategy:
The term ‘sourcing’ refers to a number of procurement practices aimed at finding, evaluating and engaging suppliers of the required items.Usually, merchandisers get all the reference items/sample including garment sample, fabrication, colouring (shade), trims-accessories, etc. from the buying end. They can get these sample either physically or pictorially (soft-copy images/illustrations). Buyers give clear technical instruction regarding each of the sample items regardless of the type -physical or softcopy.
The sourcing strategy usually being followed is as below:
- Looking for potential suppliers
- Feasibility meeting with potential suppliers
- Booking for sample development
- Sample Check
- Sample Send to Buyer
- Sample Approval
- Price fixation
- Bulk Booking
1. Looking for potential suppliers: Soon after getting the tech pack, merchandisers choose some potential suppliers for a specific item who are usually producing the same type of items. Merchandisers select these suppliers based on their experience, references, catalogues, brochure, websites, etc. But most commonly they choose the suppliers either from any references or based on their experiences.
2. Feasibility meeting with potential suppliers: After choosing the potential suppliers, merchandisers then call for a meeting with them. In that meeting, merchandisers explain the technical specification of the required items to be produced and detail specifications are analysed. Thus, suppliers can understand the production feasibility.
3. Booking for sample development: If the item/s seems feasible to the suppliers, then they are told to develop the sample as per the requirements. Suppliers take a reference copy of the item or take necessary notes/images of the items. Suppliers are given a specific time period to submit the developed item.
4. Sample Check and Send to Buyer: Soon after receiving the developed item/s from different suppliers, the merchandising team check them very carefully with respect to the original sample from the buyers. If they think the developed items are okay or closer to the original, then they are sent to the buyer for approval. This developed samples from different suppliers are submitted in several options but usually in three option as Option-A, Option-B, and Option-C. While submitting the samples, merchandisers follow the specific submission format for separate buyers.
5. Price fixation: After getting the approval/revise comments, merchandiser contact with the concerned supplier only whose option has been approved/commented. The merchandising team then calls the supplier and discuss the pricing issues. But here, one thing should be noticed that merchandisers do not inform the approval comments before fixing the price. Because if the suppliers can know the approval comments, they will demand a high price for the items.
6. Bulk Booking: Finally, after getting the approval comments and price fixation, merchandiser place a bulk booking for the required trims or accessories as per the order consumption. Suppliers are allowed a certain time frame (lead time) for the production. They are instructed to make sure the item in-housed within the lead time offered in the booking sheet.
Which factors are considered while choosing a supplier?
A merchandiser must consider some factors while choosing the supplier. She/he generally does not select anyone as the trims-accessories supplier. Suppliers must ensure the quality, quantity and the lead time because these are very significant issues for merchandising functions. Applying effective sourcing strategy a merchandiser can easily handle his task. The most influential factors that a merchandiser must consider are as follows:
- Lead time
- Social compliance issue
- Product development capability
- Additional services (logistics, warehousing)
- Previous relevant experience, etc.
Engr. Dilruba Yeasmin
Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.