August 2, 2017

Career / The Retail Industry / Part 3

So.. Before I start talking about what's the next step in my career...

I'm going to share you with you a bit of what I know about the retail industry. I'll try my best to break it down, but please keep in mind that I've only worked in retail for.l 5 years, my knowledge might be still limited (Lol didn't realized I've been working for 5 years!).. every company is different, so this is based only from what I know or heard along the years...

Let's begin!
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Some of you are quite concerned whether if you're not a fashion graduate, can you still work in fashion? The answer is: Absolutely. Even when you don't have any background in retail, can you still apply? Definitely – however, please note: please read the 'requirement' section on every job vacancy ads that you see, the HR (human resources dept) definitely will put the "check list". But hey, just try to apply even when you cannot tick everything on the check list, at least you know you tried, right?

I will definitely write about on how to apply jobs / handling interviews in the future, but since this post is more about the industry itself.. I'll skip on "how to apply" part for now..

So, what's retail? If you google 'retail', it means 'the sale of goods to ultimate consumers'. So basically when you work in retail = you sell goods / products. What differentiates one company from another, probably is the type of goods that they are selling. Me? I work in fashion retail. So I work in a company that sells/distribute fashion goods aka ready to wears (clothes/RTW), bags, shoes, and etc.

When you work in Indonesia, for International brands (luxury (Celine, Chanel, etc) /fast fashion (Zara, Mango, Topshop,etc)) there won't be job vacancies for "DESIGN TEAM" because of course, everything has been made and that makes those companies in Indonesia become the "Official Distributor". Companies like Mitra Adi Perkasa, Gilang Agung Persada, Kanmo Group, Time International, Trans Fashion, Gagan International, etc – they are the ones who are responsible, manage, and the sole distributor of their brands.

However, some brands like H&M, Dior, LV, Prada, MiuMiu, (this is what I know, please correct me if I'm wrong), they are owned by directly H&M and Dior themselves (they have a local company or maybe partner up with local company, the status is not a distributor).

What makes a difference when you work in a "distributor" company and "directly owned" companies? As you work  for distributor companies, there might be a chance for you to manage several brands at once, on the opposite company you will solely be handling that one brand only. Distributor means the company "beli putus" aka you bought the goods to sell and you have to sell it, cannot be returned. When, you're directly own the brand, chances for you to be able to return the goods back to your "principal" are higher. You don't need to think of dead stocks/etc. Worst case scenario you need to destroy the goods (imagine destroying a perfect Dior bag). But of course they are not always like this, as I said, every company is different, it depends how they made the agreement in the beginning. It's all in the contract, all about the finances, goods, marketing, budgets, regulation, guidelines, everything.

That's what happened when I was at MAP, I didn't only manage ZARA or Agent Provocateur, I've managed at least 8 brands at once. But don't worry, I have colleagues and superior who helped me manage them and the brands are divided based on the heaviness of the marketing activities! At my current company, I manage 3 brands.

So let's say you want to work for a designer in Indonesia, it's possible to apply as "assistant fashion designer" to the local Indonesian brands both the big brands or even the newly rising labels in Indonesia that you can see on Instagram. Because everything is made here, you can totally help to design. If you want to sell the designers product, maybe you can try working at companies that runs for a 'marketplace' aka something like ASOS (Love & Flair, Bobobobo, Zalora, Lazada (these are marketplace), a place where you can buy a lot of products from different brands – in a bigger scale, department store.

Btw, to apply as a fashion designer – whether you need drawing skills or not, I have no idea, gotta check with their HR :)
The Row
Don't worry if you think your major doesn't match the job you want, my dad is an engineer graduate and he became a businessman. I consider myself lucky because I work in a division where I can use all the education I learned when I was uni. And don't think too much about your grades or degree, myself.. I don't see 'education/grades' as a top priority, because when it comes to work, your grade doesn't really matter, sure it will help you getting the interviews,but it all comes down to whether you can work or not. Your cum laude title? Doesn't mean a thing if you cannot perform well at your job.
Just like any other company, I guess the structure is quite the same. There's the CEO who is in charge and managing everything, hand in hand with the CFO who handles the cashflow, all the monetary, budgets, finances, shares, etc,etc.

In retail, we have the BRAND team. Brand team = they manage, they are responsible in executing and running the brand smoothly. There is the Brand Manager who works closely with Marketing Manager, Visual Merchandising (VM) Manager, and Operation Manager.

Brand manager (BM) makes the decisions along with the supporting division aka Marketing, VM, and Ops. When the company has a lot of brands, they will have "Head of Brand Managers/Merchandiser" which means she/he is the BMs' boss.

Marketing division (me!), will take care, manage all the support that the brand need in order to sell. We are not sales person, however we help to increase brand/product awareness, finding the correct tools and activities that are need to be done, in order for the brand to make some MONEY. Ad placements, OOH, in store promotions, events, CRM (customer relationship management), and public relation falls into Marketing division. Also remember, we also take good care how the customer sees our brand, that's very important too. IMAGE CONTROL.

Visual Merchandising (VM) take care of HOW the store looks like. To make it simple, like interior designer, they are responsible to make the store looks fresh and most importantly INVITING. During sale season, they also take a role in making sure that the store is ready to have the maximum display for sale so people can spend they're money.

Operation Manager (Ops) – they manage the operations team, the floor staffs aka store assistants. They're dealing with hiring people to work at the stores. They manage daily operations, from stock takes, SA shifts, incoming stocks, everything that is happening in the stores.

Other than the brand team, in the back office there are also Human Resources Department (HRD), Finance Team, Logistic Team, IT Team, and etc. So, actually you can apply as anything in a retail company, based to what your preference

When you work at the floor (aka the store), you don't get to work 9 to 5, you work in shift, morning shift, middle shift, or night shift. You take turns to sell in the stores. It's actually quite fun, I like to sell stuff HAHAHA, i feel so happy everytime I can sell something to my friend. I feel very... fulfilled. Hahahaha

Honestly, I don't think I would ever work outside the retail industry (for a full time job). I find this fashion world, is so much fun there is so much into it. It is definitely not all GLAMOROUS. Especially when you have to go to the warehouse, yeah no. Or when you have to stay at the mall, during closing hours (after 10PM) and wait for suppliers to come and set up your venue for event on the next day.. Working in fashion is not all sparkly and luxurious, it's not wearing fancy clothes and carrying fancy bags everyday.

I know fashion retail is my calling, I love everything about it. Eventhough sometimes I have to work long hours, steaming clothes, meeting lots of people, got pressured from your boss' boss, I don't mind at all because I love the brands I'm managing for and I still love it. Honestly, the brands matter.

What about you? Have you found your true calling?

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life - Confucious

Or at least, you feel less burden while doing it :P


  1. Omg! You are absolutely right, kerja di fashion retail nggak se "mewah" yang selama ini orang-orang pikir. Haha.
    Naksir banget sama blog tentang career nya Kero.
    I also work in fashion retail, company that sells bags & shoes. And i am not a fashion-related graduate.

    Menurut ku, salah satu hal yang penting kalau mau kerja di bidang fashion retail itu apa kita punya passion dibidang itu or nggak :)

    You make me want to meet you in person and talk about fashion retail more. Mau belajar banyak. Haha.

    Thanks for this post, Kero :)

  2. Very informative and inspiring! Thank you for the advices and sharing your experience :) really helps alot for someone like me who is trying to pursue a career in fashion as well..


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