The Role of Fashion Buyer



September 27, 2016

The Buying process is partly analytical and partly creative – the Fashion buyer needs to have knowledge of sales histories but also of the current trends in the market place and what is going on in the competition then it is identifying products and  creating plans  and implementing strategies that will produce profit for the business

The buying and selling cycle is constantly overlapping as new lines come into store and and other lines decline in sales or face markdowns  – it is not unusual to work over 3 seasons for example In the spring summer season the buyers are monitoring the Sales  (while it may be too late to place repeats on a lot of items this information is key for future buying decisions..) the buying budget for the new Autumn Winter season will be finalised  and the  buyers will be looking and planning ahead for the following Spring summer season.

Here are some of the role and responsibilities within a retail head office;

  • Buyers decide on the styles to be bought and negotiates production with suppliers
  • Merchandisers works with the buyer planning the stock mix according to trend analysis, manages the budget & stocks and controls stock deliveries and allocation to stores
  • Designers provides creative direction & produces product designs for buyers to select from
  • Garment Technologist provides technical advice ( fabric & construction) and controls sample development

The Fashion Buyer constantly reviews the  sales figures. From watching sales reactions to stock as it hits the shop floor to watching the warehouse to see when new stock arrives in. Once a week there is a  meeting with the buying team to review all the category sales in depth. This is key to understand how a garment is performing so the bestsellers & slow movers can be identified.

It is really helpful to conduct such meetings with samples of garments from the range. Assistant buyers bring relevant garments to the meeting – eg new styles in and contribute by commenting on any technical problems which may explain low sales figs for instance the colour or fit in production differing from the approved office garment.

By comparing the current sales of a particular style with the previous weeks or months figs a buyer can determine whether sales are rising or declining – thus the buyer’s job is identifying and interpreting customer demand and evaluating sales is a continuing process

An indicator of good product performance is the number of units sold. Selling large quantities of product can generate extra cash flow and selling product fast can move stock more quickly through the business.  eg from the warehouse to various stores and from the stock rooms in those stores to sales floor.

Sales figures are used by looking at VOLUME or VALUE of units sold to make performance comparisons. Anyone can sell products at low prices – the important balancing act is to ensure that products are selling fast and generating acceptable levels of profit.

Reading and understanding the weekly sales figures enables the buyer in the decision making process – whether she will run out of stock or be short of stock, whether to markdown product selling slower than planned or maybe the new fashion lines may not be working or the new price points introduced have been successful.

While looking at the weekly info this will also be collaborated at the end of the season to give a full picture of the performance. Sales history is important to give a picture of the strengths and weaknesses in the range but also to prevent repeating mistakes in the next season

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meet elisabeth

Meet  Elisabeth, the driving force behind The Design Directive. With over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry, Elisabeth has honed a unique skillset that combines fashion design, buying, and business management. As a passionate advocate for fashion retailers, she empowers businesses to innovate and grow by providing expert strategies and fashion buying know-how. Elevate your brand’s success with her guidance today!

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