Merchandise And Range Planning
A Brief Introduction To Merchandise And Range Planning
When browsing through a clothing store, do you ever think about how the items came to be in that store? Not just the design and manufacturing process, but everything that happens behind the scenes in retail. Who picked that specific garment and why? Who decides how many the store buys and how long it will be in store for? Who evaluates the item’s performance, and how does that information affect the next line of clothing, accessories, and footwear? Well, if you’ve ever thought about those things, you’ve been contemplating the role of a merchandise and range planning specialist. These professionals play an integral role in bringing the latest trends and fashions into stores. If you’ve read all those questions and thought to yourself, ‘That sounds great; I want to do that’, you can! IWANTTOBEAFASHIONBUYER.com offers courses designed to develop your skills in merchandising planning, so you can launch your career in the fashion industry. We’ve put together a brief introduction to the merchandise planning process so you can decide whether the career is right for you.
What Is Merchandise And Range Planning?
Merchandise and range planning is an essential part of the retail process, and many of the stock and inventory decisions are made by merchandise planners and retail buyers.
Merchandise planners organise inventory
The last thing any clothing store needs is excess inventory taking up physical space and eating into revenue. Merchandise planners use information gleaned from past sales and consumer insights to choose products they feel confident will sell well to minimise outdated and depreciated stock. They also ensure there is enough inventory of each product to meet consumer demand and that staple items are stocked all year round.
Arranging the inventory
A huge part of retail and consumer psychology is the arrangement and assortment of products. Inventory needs to be displayed conveniently for customers to find, select, and buy the products. Products of similar categories are usually stocked together, and cross-merchandising is planned to sell items that go well together.
Merchandise planners know the factors that influence their target customers
Some stores only have an online store or one brick and mortar store, so it’s a simpler task to predict consumer behaviour and plan accordingly. However, merchandise planning becomes a bit more complicated for brands and companies with stores in multiple locations throughout the country or internationally. For example, a bikini that sells well in a Sunshine Coast store in Queensland might not do as well in Launceston, Tasmania, and range planners need to account for that when organising inventory.
They plan the range of merchandise
Range planning is a difficult task, and it requires plenty of experience and understanding of consumer behaviour. A retailer must have a range of products that balances breadth, width, and depth, so their customers have plenty of options. To make those kinds of decisions, a merchandise planner needs to understand what has worked well in the past, as well as anticipate what their customer will want in the future.
Merchandise planners help set prices
The product’s price needs to appeal to the target customer, whilst simultaneously covering all the expenses associated with bringing that product to the shelves and making a profit on top. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to pricing, but usually retailers will operate and sell their product in a price line. This is often referred to as a ‘Good, Better, Best’ pricing strategy. In setting the pricing, the merchandise planner needs to ensure that the product looks value for money next to similar items. They also need to consider future markdowns.
Merchandise planners are constantly analysing
If you’re a fan of data, you’ll love merchandise and range planning. Merchandise planners are continually measuring the effectiveness of their ranges against past ranges, original budgets, and competitors’ ranges. They analyse sales daily, look closely at weekly performance, as well as monthly, quarterly, and how well the entire season performed. Then, they use this information to consistently improve performance on a number of metrics including sales, gross profit, stockturn, GMROI and GMROS.
Which Essential Skills Do You Need To Become A Merchandise Planner?
If you’re wondering whether or not you have what it takes to succeed in your merchandising training, here are a few key traits of great range planners.
Data-driven and great at analysis
A considerable amount of the work merchandise planners do is driven by data and analysis. They constantly refer back to past trends and current performance to make decisions for the future.
Much like fashion buyers, who you’ll be working closely with, you’ll need to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to fashion. You’ll need to be able to research and forecast trends to make decisions that improve your company’s bottom line.
Excellent communication skills
Merchandise planners need to communicate and collaborate with a range of different retail professionals to bring a fashion line to consumers, so you’ll need to have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Great at multitasking
A range planner will often need to juggle multiple trains of thought at once. For example, you may need to go quickly from looking at last year’s sales figures to a meeting with fashion buyer colleagues to making inventory adjustments within a couple of hours. If you’re good at adapting to a fast-paced environment, you’ll do well as a merchandise planner.
A genuine interest in fashion
Merchandise planning is all about working in the thick of the fashion industry, so an interest in fashion is definitely preferred!
Range planners often have to manage people and projects to ensure product lines are launched in-store at the right time. Experience with management or natural leadership skills will help you excel in the role early on.
A Few Things You Should Know Merchandise and Range Planning
Before you sign up for any fashion buying and merchandising courses, there are a few things you might want to know about merchandise planning.
There is currently a global shortage of qualified merchandise planners
That’s right; the fashion industry is experiencing a shortage of experienced merchandise and range planners. A qualification in fashion planning could see you working anywhere in the world; the sky’s the limit!
Merchandise planning is all about balance
To do well as a merchandise planner, you need to find the perfect balance between post-season analysis, trend forecasting, inventory management, and consumer demand and behaviour. If you neglect one or more of these areas, your planning will suffer, so make sure you have a clear understanding of each of these areas.
Technology is the future of merchandise planning
The better you are with the latest planning software, the more likely you are to excel in a range planning career. Merchandising software simplifies the analysis process and defines the characteristics a garment would need to have to be a bestseller in a specific market. AI is also projected to play a role in trend forecasting and report development, so the more you can learn about it, the better off you’ll be in your career.
Want To Learn More About Merchandise And Range Planning?
IWANTTOBEAFASHIONBUYER.com Can Help
At IWANTTOBEAFASHIONBUYER.com, we’re passionate about supporting career development in the fashion retail industry. We aim to provide those looking at a career in fashion buying with real-world, industry-applicable skills through our comprehensive online courses on fashion buying and merchandise planning. We strive to provide the best-trained candidates to fill vacancies in retail and fashion, and we leverage our years of experience and close relationships with our clients to offer our students unparalleled opportunities in the industry. If you’re ready to take the next steps in your career and start looking for merchandise and range planning courses, contact the team at IWANTTOBEAFASHIONBUYER.com today. Your career in fashion begins right here.