Running a fashion company is a specialized skill and involves all the business processes one can associate with any other business. Anyone who has run a business themselves, or has an interest in how the business operations run on a daily basis, is aware of the importance of procurement management.
Be it sourcing the right raw materials or ensuring timely delivery of the same, the procurement team is responsible for identifying and negotiating with the vendors. The primary responsibility of any procurement team is to assess the options available to them and shortlist the vendors that can fulfil the company’s demands on time, at minimum cost, and with the highest quality raw material. Missing out on any one of these may have an impact on the company’s production process and consequently, on the profits.
If you are running a fashion company, imagine the situation where your fabric is not delivered on time. Or, it gets delivered but is not of good quality and comes with a lot of tears! It will turn out to be a complete nightmare, especially if you are prepping to launch your next collection in a short time frame. This simple example aptly summarizes the importance of procurement management in a fashion company.
Now that we understand the significance of procurement, let us look at some of the typical items that are procured within a fashion company. Fabric, buttons, zippers, sequins, chains, laces, etc., the list can go on and on. If the procurement team goes on buying each of these products separately, they may end up buying from a lot of different suppliers based on the price, availability, and other factors. But this means that you will have to keep waiting till all the required materials are available for putting together one design. Also, buying from different suppliers will entail a higher cost due to separate shipping charges from each supplier.
The solution that is widely used in the retail and fashion industry to avoid the issues with separate procurement as described above is known as category management. In its simplest form, category management can be defined as bundling together separate items in a way to optimize costs as well as to ensure the uninterrupted production of a complete product. Alternatively, this is how product classification is done.
In the context of the fashion industry, this can be understood with the following example. The final products of fashion brands can be grouped into different categories like apparel, footwear, accessories, etc. Another way of classification is sportswear, womenswear, menswear, swimwear, etc. Depending on how the first level category is defined, the next level classification can happen. Thus, the category “Apparel” can have T-shirts, skirts, as well as formal shirts, and blazers. On the other hand, the category “Sportswear” will consist of T-shirts, shoes, socks, pouch, etc.
Category definition is the first step of category management. We will not go into too much detail about how categories are defined, but suffice it to say that categories can broadly be of four types.
Each of these categories has a different purpose, and therefore, must be clearly defined for effective category management. While the core categories drive the profit and brand awareness, the destination categories are expected to bring in the customers. The destination categories are not expected to make profits.
With a better understanding of procurement management as well as category management, this is the right time to take a look at the team structures in both departments. What are the different roles required in each method and what are the typical profiles for the members in these roles? This is defined further in detail in the following section.
The procurement department is responsible for the overall procurements within a company. The typical roles in any procurement department include the following.
The goals of category management differ significantly from procurement management. Thus, the roles and responsibilities also differ vastly. An important point to consider when opting for category management is that one category of a company must not compete or undercut another category of the same company.
The category team is responsible for overall categories, and this includes space planning, visual display planning, promotions, and definitely purchase. Thus, category teams may have procurement teams embedded within them for procurement related to the specific category. With that background, let us look at the various roles within a category team.
In this blog, we took a look at the differences between procurement management and category management. We analyzed the differences and motivations for both when it comes to fashion brands. Then, we did a deep dive into the team structures of the two teams that may be present in a fashion company. If you like such informative discussions, you can find more information on Fashinza.
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