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Importance of Data Banks for a Smart Merchandiser

July 19, 2019 Vani Singh
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Traditionally fashion was broken into 4 seasons. Spring/summer lines used to debut on runways in early fall, and autumn/winter lines used to debut in February. In the past few years, the concept of the season is depleting for almost every brand. Styles are created at such a fast pace so that a customer has a new product to buy in the store every month. The rise of fast fashion is decimating the biannual seasonality that has long structured the fashion industry.

Brands like Zara, H&M, Top Shop, and Forever 21 have built their businesses on speed and agility. Once these retailers spot a new trend, they can deploy their hyper-rapid design and supply chain systems to bring the trend to market as quickly as possible.

Top 20 players 2017, By economic profit, $US Million

Source: McKinsey Global Fashion Index (MGFI)

In this overtly constrained timeline, the brands have to gauge the interest of customers and create styles as per the latest trends. In meantime, when fashions are introduced and when they arrive on store shelves, brands assess demand so that they can try to manufacture the right collection and quantity of garments for the season at the right price at a challenging speed.

An organized data set for Brands is ultimately the wisdom for correct decisions and actions. If this data is relevant, complete, accurate, meaningful, and actionable, it will not only enhance the working for a merchandiser but will also help in the growth of the organization.

An apparel brand has various departments that need coordination and for them to run smoothly it is extremely important that data is recorded efficiently.  The product development department is the backbone of any apparel brand since it transforms the designer’s creation into a commercial product that sells in the market. An efficient record keeping helps to ensure that all the concerning processes run methodically.

A product development merchandiser’s main responsibility is to negotiate the cost with the vendors to achieve the best FOB of the garment. Their main target is to develop the right product at the right time with a perfect cost for the target market.

The styling and order history of a garment must be carefully labeled and recorded to help a merchandiser to work in an organized and error-free environment. He makes sure that product sampling and production happen without any errors. Like had mentioned earlier, this data helps one to make the right decisions pertaining to the bulk order execution of an order, or as a historical reference for a similar style order while negotiating with the vendors. Currently, all the negotiations are done through emails and excels, and if while negotiating the brand merchandiser has to refer an old-style order, he might go back and read multiple chain mails and refer various excels to track specific information.

An organized style order information in an organization can help not only the merchandiser but the business in many ways as below:

  1. While costing the product, data in terms of past referential style order can be used to negotiate the price for all the cost elements with the vendors. If the merchant has a record of the price of the same fabric used in the past season, then he can use the same to negotiate the fabric cost of the garment.
     
  2. If there is a style-wise record of SAM and CM values, then it will become easier for a merchandiser to understand the operation breakdown of a similar style in the future.
     
  3. A systematic record of style details will help the merchandiser go back to the best market performing styles to create something similar.
     
  4. An efficient style order track record will help the merchandiser and the firm to revisit the order lead times which will help to plan and execute the timelines of similar/same styles.
     
  5. A proper data bank of all the styles can help the management to view the progress of the company on a whole season-wise, collection wise, etc.

When we as humans make decisions, the process is often muddy, biased, or limited by our inability to process information overload. Data and analytics can change all that by bringing in more data points from new sources, breaking down information asymmetries, and adding automated algorithms to make the process instantaneous. As the sources of data grow richer and more diverse, there are many ways to use the resulting insights to make decisions faster, more accurate, more consistent, and more transparent.

Intello3C

Now a question arises, is it easy and feasible for a merchandiser to maintain every single detailed record of his working? No matter how efficiently the data is recorded and is filed in folders and excel sheets, there are bright chances of one missing on to something. And most importantly, it does get a little tedious to fetch that required data when you have to work and need to make quick decisions in a time-crunched environment.

Intello3C a product from Coats Global Services is a boon in a merchandiser’s life. It is a cost negotiation platform for a Brand Merchandiser and its respective vendor merchandiser, where every style order data and cost sheet that is exchanged is recorded and saved in the system. This cloud-based software limits the need for multiple chain mails with various vendors and collates all the information and conversations on one stage, making data filtering and sorting an easy 5 seconds task. While a merchandiser is working on various style orders with his vendors (sending tech packs, receiving cost quotations, negotiating, etc.), intello3C simultaneously keeps updating its database with all the information fed in and is creating season-wise, product wise, Customer wise style order reports that can be referred at the end of a tenure to use actionable intelligence in the working of the organization on the whole.

Intello3C not only creates a database for the merchandiser but also uses the same data as a historical reference to negotiating prices with the vendors through its AI conversation structure. Having said earlier that past records help in making smart decisions today, this AI feature sends automatic responses to the vendors with valid reasoning and scientific data reference. The system not only keeps a data bank for fabric and trim prices but also the CM and fabric consumption value of similar styles, which is very resourceful at the time of a negotiation to get the perfect FOB value for a style order.

Intello3C is definitely evolving the fashion industry and is making the work ecosystem of a Merchandiser easier, organized and more accuracy oriented.


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Author

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Vani Singh

Vani Singh is a Consultant at ThreadSol. She is a graduate from FDDI and has more than 3 years of experience in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management

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