10 Qualities of a Successful Fabric Merchandiser

Qualities of a merchandiser

A merchant in ancient times was someone who exchanged goods. He would travel to various kingdoms and would trade on behalf of their king or lord. A merchant was the key link between kingdoms and the working of the economy. In the history books, we have seen this phenomenon during the Greek and Roman ruling period.


Textile items in particular was a hugely traded commodity. The merchants made sure that these textile items cross countries on time. Today, the role of a merchant has evolved from being just a trader. His roles and responsibilities have increased drastically.

After the industrial revolution and world war, there was a huge demand for ready-made garments. Mass production was on the rise and consumption was growing. This created a gap in the role of modern merchandisers. It was particularly originated in the United States. These merchandisers acted as the bridge between the design team and sales. The role got more prominence as the importance of customer requirements, fashion and other needs started to arise in the industry.

Only after the 1960s, the structure and working of the apparel industry changed to a modern version. The main reasons for these changes are that the industry was growing at a rapid pace. As the customer requirements change, the complexity of acquiring the raw material also increased. The supply chain developed and become a huge network connecting the entire world. There was a huge inflow of fashion trends and styles and so on.

A merchandiser plays an important role in order to achieve significant success for the organization. But are there any certain qualities a fabric merchant can have that will help them being a successful merchandiser? Yes, here are the top 10.


  1. Sourcing Skills

Did you know that Up to 70% of the total cost of garments comes from the fabric and more than 50% of the tasks in garment order are related to fabric? This makes sourcing the right fabric at the right time really crucial. Souring is not an easy task. Especially now, when companies are trying to decrease volume and increase the number of styles they offer. One merchant is supposed to look after more than a handful of styles. Souring fabrics for all of them is a hectic task.

So what are the various stages involved in the sourcing process?

  1. Finding the right supplier
  2. Developing samples
  3. Supplier evaluation and assessment
  4. Select appropriate supplier
  5. Negotiating the price
  6. Deciding a purchase
  7. Strategic sourcing plan

There can be other minor tasks in between these. A merchandiser should be able to do all these simultaneously.


  1. Proficient in written & oral communication

As supplier bases are scattered around the world, communication will happen mostly via calls, emails, and messages. It is critical to articulate very clearly to the parties involved as a single miscommunication can cause thousands of dollars in loss. For merchandisers, the better the clarity in communication, the better the chances for getting recognized and becoming successful.


  1. Expert fabric knowledge

A fabric merchant should possess outstanding knowledge of fabrics. It is highly appreciated to have a bachelor’s degree or technical diploma in any of the textile degrees. As a merchandiser interacts with the manufacturers, it becomes easy to talk about various technical terms.

The merchandiser should be aware of the various processes involved in a fabric manufacturing process for either woven or knits fabrics. The more knowledge and expertise one have over fiber, yarn, fabric, dyeing processes, finishing processes, production processes, trimming, etc, the better chances for success as a merchandiser. The expertise can be as wider as knowing about printing, embroidery, poly, hangers, labels, cartons, shipping, testing, etc.


  1. Wide knowledge about mills/factories

As a merchant, it is important to know where to get the job done. He/she should have a list of mills and factories under his sleeve ready to take on any orders when they arise. As sourcing turned global, merchants are supposed to have a good relationship with local and overseas mills and factories.


  1. Negotiation skills

It is the responsibility of the merchandiser to negotiate the best deal with the manufacturers to improve the profits for the company. The ability to negotiate and convince is a must-have skill for any merchandiser.


  1. Problem-solving skill

Sometimes, fabric manufacturing can get complicated. When special qualities or prints are made, there is a chance for a thousand things to go wrong. It does happen. During these times, a merchandiser should be able to navigate efficiently and recover from the problem to achieve the desired results. Problem-solving skills will only be achieved with years of hard work and grit. The more one works, the more he becomes wiser.


  1. Good with numbers

Merchandising involves calculating costs involved in buying, production, etc until the finished product. For this, a basic understanding of arithmetic is appreciated. A must-have quality for a merchandiser.


  1. Must be a team player

As we discussed in the earlier section, the merchandiser acts as a bridge between various departments of an organization. He is dependent on the success of other people delivering their promises. Only a team player can make this workout. There will be a lot of meetings, in-person talks, and a whole lot of interactions between various departments and team members. A successful merchandiser would be able to navigate their team efficiently.


  1. Updated about World economy

The world economy is interrelated. The pandemic has opened our eyes to the fact that no one is left behind when something happens in any country. Like a wildfire, it affects everyone. So regardless of where the merchandiser is located, he should always be updated about the world economy and what is happening in each country. The politics, policies, and even weather can have an effect on the production timeline.


  1. Managerial

The merchandiser should be able to juggle simultaneously between all these tasks in order to get the desired results. In merchandising, time is crucial. A successful merchandiser would manage all the tasks at hand effectively.


Major Responsibilities of a Merchandiser

  1. Order receipt
  2. Preparing T&A
  3. Calculating consumption
  4. Sampling & Sourcing
  5. Send for buyer approval
  6. Garment sample development
  7. Trims-accessories souring and development
  8. Fabric sourcing and development
  9. PP meeting
  10. Initiate pilot run
  11. Follow-up the production
  12. Arrange inspection after production
  13. Shipment
  14. Export documentation and logistics
  15. Vessel booking



Are you a merchandiser? Are there any qualities that need to be on this list? Please comment below your opinions.


For any type of woven fabrics manufacturing, contact us.


2 thoughts on “10 Qualities of a Successful Fabric Merchandiser


    Ohhh, this is great knowledge about Merchandiser. I am a Textile Designer, casually surfing about merchandiser role. I understand his/her role. thank you for the info.

    1. Dinesh Exports says:

      Glad it helped. You are welcome

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