The first job that comes to mind when one thinks of the fashion industry is that of a Fashion Designer. The next set of jobs may include merchandiser, brand manager, or even a supplier or manufacturer. However, like any other business, a fashion brand needs the standard set of profiles that keep a business running. This is especially true for medium to large brands that are performing at scale. In such a scenario, finance professionals, technology professionals, HR professionals are required to keep the operation running seamlessly.
One such important role in any fashion brand is that of a Procurement Manager. A typical procurement manager’s job description for a fashion brand is similar to that of any other brand – identifying the right suppliers, negotiating the best prices, onboarding vendors, and managing strategic vendor relationships. Needless to say, the procurement manager is a critical member for any fashion brand to work in the most optimised manner.
While everyone is aware of the responsibilities a fashion designer or merchandiser may have, there is little known about what a procurement manager’s life looks like within a fashion brand. A good way to get the idea is to read any fashion brand’s procurement manager job description. The description may give a fair idea of what is expected, yet it will typically cover the positive aspects of the job. So, reading the procurement manager job description may lead you to believe that you will need to do the following.
Other pointers may appear, yet none of these will tell you about the problems that you may face daily. Here is a list of the 3 most common challenges you will face as a procurement supervisor in a fashion brand and some suggestions on how to solve them.
A procurement manager for a fashion brand, or a fashion category within a brand, is an extremely responsible position. Given the impact this role can have on the overall ROI of the company, it is expected to be a challenging one. Critical decisions need to be made by a procurement manager regularly. While these challenges may not appear in the procurement manager’s job description, these are a well-known part of their daily routine. Some common issues that you will face as a procurement manager include the following.
A classic conundrum faced by every procurement manager in every industry. Minimising cost is a part of every procurement supervisor’s KRA. What is important to consider is the compromise on quality that can be afforded by the company to achieve this KRA.
For example – if you are responsible for buying fabric for the latest office-wear collection of your brand, you may not need to go for the most expensive silks available in the market. However, that doesn’t mean that you identify a supplier based on minimum cost, and when the fabric finally arrives, it has tears or is prone to tear at the slightest touch! That will be a disaster for the brand.
It is the same with every raw material that you will need to procure for a fashion brand – from buttons to laces and from zippers to shoelaces. The higher quality materials tend to be expensive. To reduce costs, you may have to opt for slightly lower quality, but the challenge here is to identify an acceptable limit.
Solution: The Cost vs Quality challenge is a part of every procurement manager’s life. Whether the company chooses to put it explicitly in their procurement manager job description or not, once you take up the position, you will have to deal with it. The best way forward is to have a working solution to address the challenge. Here are a few pointers that may come in handy when addressing this specific concern.
Most fashion brands do not start as planned large-scale corporations. The typical path would be a designer who has organically grown due to the popularity of their designs. While this makes for a compelling brand story, this can also become a nightmare for teams that thrive on well-defined processes. A great example is the procurement process. Any new fashion brand may begin with sporadic purchases done either offline or, at best, on an Excel sheet. This may work well when the scale of operations is small. However, as the scale of operations becomes bigger, the absence of well-defined processes may lead to several challenges. Some challenges that you may face as a procurement manager for such a brand include the following.
Solution: Some issues listed here are a reality of every procurement manager’s life, especially in an organically grown brand. While the procurement manager job description that interested you so much may not mention it explicitly, establishing a well-defined procurement process may be one of your biggest responsibilities. The benefits of driving such an initiative are manifold. You get clear visibility of the procurement needs of the organisation, can plan in advance, and most importantly, you will be able to get a lot of cost-saving by combining the multiple purchase requests. If you find no predefined procurement process in your organisation, work towards building one.
Another important challenge faced by procurement managers of organically grown brands, and sometimes even well-established ones. The basis of all your decision-making must be factually correct data points. This helps eliminate a lot of mistakes. However, getting the correct data for your work may in itself become a huge challenge. Some data-related problems you may face as a procurement manager are listed here.
Solution: The data issue may appear very complicated and have a long-term impact on your purchase decisions. However, the solution to this seemingly tough problem is a simple one. There is no way to change the past, but starting now, you must work towards digitising your data collection. This will help you define the information you need to gather and capture it accurately.
We saw some common problems procurement managers in any fashion brand might face and the ways to address these problems. If you liked this information, there is a lot more available on Fashinza. An end-to-end B2B platform for all fashion industry players, you can find peers, suppliers, manufacturers, and brands interacting with each other. You can find the materials you are looking for, place an order, and get them delivered to your facility. Or, you can read detailed articles like this on all things relevant to the industry. To find more information, and become a part of the community, visit the Fashinza website or app today.