module specification

MC5014 - Fashion Buying and Merchandising (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Fashion Buying and Merchandising
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Individual report on retail merchandising practice: 2500 words
Coursework 30%   Individual assignment based on industry professional interview 2000 words
Oral Examination 20%   Retail design and merchandising presentation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module identifies and assesses key issues in the fashion buying and merchandising process in order to prepare those wishing to develop a career in fashion retailing for the commercial realities of the job. The module introduces students to the scope and function of fashion buying and merchandising in order for students to gain a clear understanding of how fashion buyers and merchandisers function and contribute, in their roles, to meeting the fashion consumers’ requirements as well as maximising retail profitability. The assessment strategy is set out in such a way that students have to carry out their assignments by means of a rigorously drafted research methodology.

Module aims

In a rapidly dynamic global context, the main aims of this module are:

  • to build and develop students’ knowledge and skills to enable them to a deeper understanding of fashion business dynamics and the decisions needed by the modern fashion buyer to operate in the fast changing fashion business environment.

The module will enable students to understand how buying and merchandising decisions are made at all levels of retail business, from supermarkets through to couture. Students will learn how key functions such as design, finance, (garment) technology and retail operations work together in the process of buying and merchandising garment ranges through applied buyer and consumer research. In particular, an understanding of sales forecasting, stock planning, management of the product through to its sale and analysis of stock performance. Additional aim is to furnish students with an understanding of consumer behaviour and understand how consumer analysis supports the buying function.

Skills expected to develop within the module will include:  research; analytical; problem solving; numeracy; planning and organising; creativity; decision making; verbal, written and visual communication, as well as evaluation in sourcing, negotiating, range development, commercial awareness and career management. The module also aims to equip students with soft skills such as: communication, time management, goal setting, mental agility, flexibility and work ethics, necessary in order to work as a manager in a fashion retail organisation.


- The definition, role and scope of fashion buying;
- Fashion product life cycles;
- Sources of fashion trend prediction information;
- Significance of key shows and exhibition calendars;
- The buying cycle;
- Range planning and product development; budgets;
- Inventory control and fashion forecasts; product performance measurement;
- Environmental scanning and competitive techniques;
- Impact of buyers and the buying process upon business functions
- International product costs
- Merchandising, design, (garment) technology, distribution and logistics;
- Retail store design, atmospherics and presentation, such as: packaging, hangers, boxes
- Off and online store layout; product presentation and visual display considerations;
- Negotiation;
- Marketing/business research methodology applied to a retail/fashion context;
- Consumer behaviour.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered over a 30 week period and consist of 1.5 hour lectures and 1.5 hour seminars each week. Exceptions to this are the designated employability week and teaching weeks: 13 and 28 (where week 1 is the first teaching week of the academic year) which will be used for research and preparation for examinations.

The module will be delivered via lectures and seminars.  Supporting material will be made available via Weblearn, which will facilitate a blended learning approach to include wider reading and other materials to support the syllabus. Seminars, through the use of debate and problem solving cases, will provide the opportunity for discussion and facilitate learning. In addition, the seminars will incorporate summative and formative feedback in order for students to have an opportunity to reflect upon and evaluate their performance.  Students will be exposed to input from practitioners - fashion buyers and merchandisers, which will enable students to explore career paths within the fashion retail sector.

Individual and group study, set self-directed tasks, industry contact and networking are incorporated to allow the student to learn and evaluate information in order to engage in independent study. The student is required to read widely and engage in research beyond the parameter of the lecture and seminars. Industry contacts will be drawn upon and networking.

Activity Week – usually Week 7 (where week 1 is the first teaching week of the academic year)
Activity week 7 will be used to stimulate ideas and activities for students from different subject groups taking this module to enhance PDP.  Activities will allow students to further develop creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.

Learning outcomes

 On completion of the module students will be able to:

  1. Develop knowledge of the scope, function and professional practices of the fashion buyer/merchandiser;
  2. Exhibit an understanding of product development; product quantity decisions; fashion product life cycles;  and how they may influence the fashion buyer’s decisions;
  3. Appraise, compare and contrast differences in fabric/product sourcing and supply chain management and associated ethical practices;
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of fashion trends and consumer market research;.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to undertake statistical data analysis in order to analyse and forecast stock;
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the management and allocation of offline/physical retail space;
  7. Identify and analyse the relationship between retail design and visual merchandising and retailer profits;
  8. Demonstrate an understanding of researching the consumer and analyse the relationship between retail design, visual merchandising and consumer buying.

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy consists of three components addressing the module’s learning outcomes:

1) Individual report into retail merchandising practice
This 2,500-word report involves an investigation into the physical merchandising environments of two competing retailers. Students are required to compare elements examined during the lecture series: store layout, product presentation, service culture, atmospherics, visual merchandising, and interior/exterior retail design. The analysis should also suggest how theories/models of consumer behaviour might have been mobilised in the respective transactional spaces under consideration Weighting: 50%. Week due: 14. Learning outcomes assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8.

2) Individual assignment based on industry professional interview
Students are required to compile a 2,000-word individual assignment based on an in-depth interview with a fashion buyer or industry professional manager with knowledge of the buying process. The findings from the interview should be documented using the suggested sub-headings and supported by discussion of relevant material derived from the secondary sources. The interview must be documented in writing or recorded (where permitted), transcribed or translated (where applicable) and attached to the submission. Students should gather enough information to produce a comprehensive account of the respondent’s role(s) and responsibilities and demonstrate an understanding of the academic protocols involved when following this research methodology. Weighting: 30%. Week due: 26. Learning outcomes assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

3) Individual retail design & merchandising presentation
On an individual basis student are required to conduct research that leads to a proposal for a creative merchandising solution for one of the retailers examined for assignment one. A 10-minute work-in-progress presentation featuring a series of images should clearly indicate the sources of inspiration and demonstrate the trajectory of creative thought up until that point. The final outcomes in the form of a mood-board, window display and layout diagram must be accompanied by a hard copy printout of the slides or alternative evidence of the presentation for moderation and quality purposes.
Weighting: 20%. Weeks due: 27-30. Learning outcomes assessed: 6, 7, 8.


Diamond J. & Pintel G. (2012) Retail Buying, 9th edition, Prentice Hall
Bell J. &Ternus K. (2012) Silent Selling: Best Practices & Effective Strategies in Visual Merchandising, 3rd edition, Fairchild books
Bailey, S., & Baker, J. (2014). Visual Merchandising for Fashion. A& C Black
Malhotra  N. Birks D. Wills P. ( 2013 ) Essentials Marketing Research Pearson Education Ltd
Hoffman A. (2011) Fundamentals of Merchandising Math and Retail Buying, Prentice Hall
Raymond M. (2010) The Trend Forecasters Handbook, Laurence King
Clodfelter R. (2009) Retail Buying: From Basics to Fashion, 3rd edition, Fairchild
Solomon M.R. (2014) Consumer Behavior: Global Edition, 11/E Pearson Higher Education
Easterling C. et al. (2007) Merchandising Math for Retailing, Prentice Hall
L'officiel Collections Haute Couture
The Retail Bulletin
Retail merchandiser
International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 
Journal of Fashion Marketing Management
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services