Apparel manufacturing is an elaborate process, which includes multiple steps, both running parallel and sequentially at times. If we look at the broad picture of the apparel manufacturing process here, the following steps can be identified as the major milestones within the complete process:
Figure: Apparel Manufacturing Process 
As it is evident from the above process flow, efficiently executing a garment order depends highly on effective management of this process. Merchandiser is the person responsible for complete planning and coordination of all the activities within the order right from the start or procuring the order till the final shipment point.
Merchandiser is the actual driver for every garment manufacturer order. He/she is responsible for managing communications, planning, programming, sourcing, controlling, follow-ups, decision making, coordination, costing, negotiating, meeting, and forecasting for various aspects of the order. The merchandiser hence actually acts as a bridge between the manufacturer and the buyer, assuring swift execution of the orders.
Merchandiser’s Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities of a merchandiser include all the planning and scheduling activities, starting right from the buyer communications until the order is finally fulfilled. The merchandiser needs to ensure, right merchandise, at the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity, at the right price, with the right promotion .
This includes managing communications with the buyer and manufacturer’s sides both, with all the related sourcing, coordination, negotiations, and follow-ups.
The merchandising roles throughout the apparel manufacturing process-flow include:
- Buyer Sourcing & Communication: This incorporates merchandiser’s communication with the external buyers and their teams regarding order details and prototype the patterns for further garment construction are developed.
- Pre-Costing: The merchandiser is also responsible to formulate a pre-costing of approvals. The merchandiser then coordinates with the internal manufacturing functions to ensure buyer’s order demands and requirements are met.
- Sampling & Inquiry: The merchandising team here receives the Tech-Pack for the concerned order, consisting of the style details (trims and construction), which it sends to the sampling department for development of sample prototypes for buyer’s comments and approval.
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Based on the conclusions drawn in the meeting, a production files is developed and circulated by the merchandiser to all the departments. The merchandiser then follows the ex-factory date, to plan all the stages of the bulk production.
- Raw material sourcing: the merchandiser coordinates with the sourcing team, to ensure the timely sourcing of fabric and trims, to ensure on-time order execution.
- Fabric in-house & inspection: once the fabric is received in-house, it is inspected for quality and grouping for its following processes.
- Garment Cutting & Sewing: the buyer approved pre-production sample is then followed, in conjunction with other order specification for the bulk production of the style. The merchandiser here coordinates with the various functions, and ensures the order runs smoothly, with the given budget and time frame from these departments.
- Garment Inspection & Finishing: Post cutting and sewing the garment are inspected and finished internally in sync with the buyer specifications for the style.
Image Source: Textile Learner
The merchandiser coordinates with the inspection and finishing teams to ensure adherence to the required specs for the order.
- Packing: The garments are finally packed based on the packing details for the order, as provided by the merchandising team within the given time frame to ensure on-hand, sufficient time for conducting buyer inspection and timely shipment of the order.
Image Source: Garment Merchandising
- Final inspection: Once the order is ready and packed, the merchandiser sends the final shipping goods details to the buyer, to obtain an inspection certification. The buyer then inspects the final order and based on the buyer’s assessment the order is accepted or rejected. The merchandiser here coordinates with the manufacturing team and the buyer’s inspection team to ensure the final inspection is conducted smoothly and successfully.
- Order Shipment: When the buyer approved the order post final inspection, the merchandiser then ensures the order shipment leaves the manufacturing location on the ex-factory date given by the buyer.
The Merchandiser then makes the Order Completion Report to formally close the order and maintain documentation for future references.
Stay tuned for the next part of this article where we will be discussing:
1. Challenges in the life of a merchandiser
2. Key performance metrics of a merchandiser