By Dr. Himani Choudhary, Bhaskar Das & Ritu Jain
Department of Fashion Business
Fashion Retail Buying and Merchandising is an exciting yet challenging career path that requires an amazing blend of creativity and math to ensure the 5 R's: the right product is sold at the right time, in the right quantity, at the right price, and from the right place.
The creative side of retail buying requires an appreciation of colors, styles, fabric, texture, silhouette, trends, and other attributes encompassing the physical appearance of the product, while the math side takes care of the numbers involved in planning its quantity for the new season and other commercial goals.
It enables you to understand how the fashion business works. It includes all the processes involved with producing raw material, apparel and accessories, and the retail stores that sell fashion merchandise to the public.
It includes all the activities beginning from fashion forecasting, design and development of products to retail activity and this also comprises production as well as retail merchandising. It consists of items of retail merchandise that have ornamental value either with or without having any functional value.
Fashion buying and merchandising roles require a blend of creativity and analytical skills. Professionals in these roles need to have a good sense of fashion aesthetics, understand consumer preferences, have knowledge on sourcing and production of fashion and predict future needs. They also need to analyze sales data, manage budgets, and make data-driven decisions on slow-moving and fast-moving fashion products to optimize sales performance.
The Merchandisers and buyers play key roles and responsibilities within the fashion and lifestyle industry that involve the strategic planning, selection, purchasing as well as production of fashion products for branded retail or e- commerce. They are a crucial part in determining what products are stocked and sold to consumers, as well as managing inventory, trends analysis, sourcing of raw materials, production of fashion products and maximizing profitability.
In today’s times, some of the major factors that are contributing to the positive career expansion in this field are:
- Growing Fashion Industry: The fashion and lifestyle industry are continually growing, with new trends, brands, and markets emerging. This expansion creates opportunities for fashion buyers and merchandisers to work with a wide range of products and engage with diverse consumer markets as well as the sourcing markets.
- Nature of the Industry: Fashion is a global industry, and fashion buyers and merchandisers get the chance to work with international suppliers, attend fashion shows and trade events, and explore global fashion markets. This global exposure can broaden their perspectives and open doors to exciting opportunities worldwide.
- Enhanced Employment Opportunities: With fast growing consumerism encompassing all age groups, fashion buying and merchandising professionals can find employment in various sectors both front-end and back-end, including retail stores, e-commerce platforms, fashion brands, manufacturing units, sourcing offices, export houses, department stores, and buying agencies. This diversity offers a range of career options and the chance to work with different types of fashion products.
- Career Progression: Fashion buying and merchandising often provide clear career progression paths. Starting as executive trainees, assistant to buyers or merchandisers, professionals can move up to become buyers, senior buyers, senior merchandiser, sourcing managers, merchandising managers, or even hold management positions within fashion companies / brands. This upward mobility offers opportunities for growth and advancement.
- Job Responsibilities: Fashion buyers and merchandisers are responsible for making critical decisions that impact sales and profitability. They analyze market trends, consumer behavior, and competitor strategies to curate product assortments, negotiate with suppliers, and manage inventory. These skills are highly valued and transferable across the industry.
While the career prospects in fashion buying and merchandising can be promising, it's important to note that the competition for these roles can be intense. Building a strong foundation in fashion business, staying updated with industry trends, networking, and gaining relevant experience through internships or entry-level positions can enhance your chances of success in this field.
Qualifications such as fashion and lifestyle business management and fashion Business with merchandising and marketing specialization are worthwhile for individuals aspiring to become fashion buyers and merchandisers, as they provide essential expertise and abilities relevant to their job responsibilities. All in all, fashion buying and merchandising is a promising career path with immense opportunities to grow.