Have you ever looked in the window of your favorite boutique and wondered how the clothes got there? Behind the scenes of the store window lies a complex web of product sourcing, market research, and visual presentation - the function of fashion merchandising. Step inside to get an inside look at this fascinating process.
1. Difference between Fashion Design and Merchandising
Fashion design encompasses the conceptualization, creation, and marketing of new apparel and accessories. A fashion designer creates an aesthetic vision to be executed through technical design and garment construction. It is important to understand how garments fit together and how to construct and modify a pattern for the look one is seeking. Additionally, knowledge of textile science, color theory, and trends are just a few of the skills that a fashion designer needs.
Unlike fashion design, fashion merchandising focuses on the marketing of fashion products. It works closely with the promotion and sales of these products. Merchandisers must understand the importance of styling and displaying garments, meeting customer needs, developing strong relationships with retailers, and timing product releases to maximize sales. A successful fashion merchandiser must have an in-depth knowledge of the garment production process, the target customer, marketing strategies, and merchandise buying.
Key Elements of Difference:
- Fashion design focuses on artistry while fashion merchandising focuses on business.
- Fashion design requires technical design knowledge while fashion merchandising requires a strong understanding of the garment production process.
- Fashion design requires in-depth knowledge of textile science, color theory, and trends while fashion merchandising requires knowledge of promotion and sales.
- Fashion designers create aesthetic visions to be executed while fashion merchandisers apply styling, display, and pricing strategies.
Fashion design and fashion merchandising are two distinct areas of the fashion industry. Although related, each field has its own unique set of tasks and responsibilities. Understanding the differences between the two is the first step to determining which field is right for you.
2. What Does a Fashion Merchandiser Do?
Fashion merchandisers have certainly become the backbone of retail in the modern world. They are the behind-the-scenes experts when it comes to makes sure shoppers can find what they want when they walk into a store. But what does a fashion merchandiser actually do? Let’s take a look!
- Price: A fashion merchandiser must consider cost and market value when pricing product. They must set prices that will make a product attractive to the consumer, while also making sure the price provides a profit for the business.
- Promote: It’s essential to get potential customers interested in the product in the first place. To achieve this, a fashion merchandiser must create displays, promote sales, partner with clients and use other tactics to make the product stand out.
- Source: This is a critical aspect of merchandising. A fashion merchanidser must source products from different suppliers, find the best supply prices and go through a selection of samples before deciding on a supplier.
- Plan Product Assortment: A fashion merchandiser must plan the types, number, and variety of items the store will order.
These are just a few of the key responsibilities that fashion merchandisers carry out on a daily basis. It’s a demanding profession that requires the ability to multitask and maintain strong attention to detail as trends, styles and availability of products can change quickly!
3. Understanding Visual Merchandising
Visual merchandising is a powerful tool for fashion retailers to create an appealing experience in-store. Understanding how customers perceive the retail environment, and how it can be used to influence their shopping behaviour is key to creating a successful store and connecting with shoppers.
- Making the Space Count: The store space needs to be tailored to customers’ needs. Stores should be welcoming, showcase the collections customers are used to seeing and ensure accessibility. Good placement of displays will create focus for shoppers and draw their attention.
- The Power of Colors and Textures: The use of light, colors, and materials can help draw customer attention and create a stimulating environment. Colors can convey moods associated to certain fashion labels and collections. Natural textures can create a sense of luxury with little effort.
- Making Good Use of New Technology: New technologies, such as touchscreens, virtual fitting rooms and personalized streaming, can be used to engage customers in innovative ways. Retailers should evaluate online platforms to gauge customer interest and invite customers further interact with their brand.
- Cross-Channel Synergy: Marketing strategies used by fashion retailers should exist within an overarching retail experience. Online and offline channels should be used strategicaly to create a rich, engaging and knowledgeable shopping environment where customers keep coming back.
At the end of the day, visual merchandising plays an essential role in creating successful fashion experiences for customers. Retailers should use visual merchandising as an opportunity to reflect their brand identity in the customer’s journey, as they explore, make choices and become satisfied shoppers.
4. Key Elements of Merchandising Success
1. Keep up with Fashion Trends: It is essential to stay on top of the latest fashion trends in order to be successful in fashion merchandising. Knowing what the hot new items on the market are, as well as which ones are fading out, will help you to increase sales and ensure customer satisfaction.
2. Focus on Visuals: Visuals are everything in fashion merchandising, and the store’s visual presentation is what will make the customer decide if they want to buy or not. Thoughtfully arranging items on the shop floor, making sure they are in line with the store’s brand, as well as bisual displays placed in strategic locations should be taken into consideration.
3. Choose High-Quality Items: Quality is key in fashion merchandising, so make sure you stock your stores with high-quality fashion items. People will not buy items that are cheaply made or that won’t last. Ensure that your garments are made from quality materials and will last for more than a season.
4. Create Unique Packaging/Gift with Purchase: Offering something extra, such as unique and creative packaging or a gift with purchase, will add a bit of extra sparkle to the buying experience for the customer, and can even spark additional sales. This could be anything from a special bag or a box with a special design to a free small item. Look for ways to go above and beyond.
5. Offer Deals and Promotions: Offering seasonal or special deals and promotions, such as giving a 20% discount on certain items, will give customers a sense of urgency and may encourage them to buy more. Consider offering loyalty programs or discounts for returning customers. Advertise deals and sales both inside the store and outside.
5. Challenges in Merchandising Today
The world of fashion merchandising poses its own set of unique challenges today, that are very different to even just a few years ago. Staying on top of trends and customer preferences while keeping a keen eye on budgets and profits can be a difficult balancing act. Here are just some of the challenges facing fashion merchandisers today.
- Lack of resources: Many stores lack the resources, such as personnel and funds, necessary to bring new merchandise into the store. This can interrupt the natural fashion cycle, forcing stores to miss out on popular items.
- Online competition: With the growth of online stores offering both convenience and competitive prices, brick-and-mortar stores need to be able to offer something different. Creating a unique shopping experience to draw customers in is essential.
- Keeping up with trends: Jeremiahs and stylists create new trends constantly, but it takes time to get the related merchandise on the shelves. Being able to anticipate with accuracy, what customers will be looking for, is invaluable.
- Managing budgets Many stores operate on a tight budget, and all decisions must be made with a view to how they will affect the bottom line. cash flow and managing the turnover of stock are both key to success.
- Successful promotion: Getting customers in the door is one of the biggest challenges in retail today; fashion merchandisers must be able to come up with creative and effective promotion strategies that make the best use of available resources.
The world of fashion merchandising offers exciting opportunities, but it can also be a complex challenge for those in the industry. Balancing the creative potential of merchandising with the financial realities of business is essential for lasting success.
6. Tips for Maximizing Sales Through Merchandising
1. Stimulate Impulse Buys
Customers often make buyers decisions in a matter of seconds and more often than not, impulse buys are the driving force of great sales. Put items that are highly visible and attractive close to the entrance and pay attention to customer behavior as they enter.
2. Create Balanced Displays
It’s essential to display seasonal merchandise in more attractive, larger displays that start at eye level. Balance the display by bringing elements of the store logo into the look, such as graphics or associated colors.
3.Make Use of Signs and Labels
Provide signs and labels that help customers to easily identify merchandise. Take advantage of strategic formats that will create engagement, such as story signs or captivating visuals.
4. Group Like Items Together
Gather seasonal items and group them together by colors or by themes to create a strong visual impact. This will also enable customers to quickly find the desired items and potentially add new products to the mix.
5. Don’t Forget Props
Add props that enhance seasonal lines and showcase how garments and accessories can be combined. Use creative ways of displaying items and mix up the mannequins with props of light, music, and unique textures.
6. Utilize Technology
Use modern technology to capture shoppers’ attention! Take your merchandising up a notch and install touch screens in the store window to provide customers with interactive shopping experiences.
Fashion Merchandising may appear simple on the store window, but behind its colorful displays is a world of decisions, trends, and more. To understand this industry is to understand the creativity and the calculated movements of its people. As they move with the times, fashion merchandisers create the unique and captivating experiences that their store will deliver, every season and every year.