The Sampling & Merchandising Manager will lead all efforts to deliver sampling and digital swatching to the organization on time while working to control costs and manage all projects within budget. The Sampling & Merchandising Manager will oversee all areas related to sample books and other merchandising collateral, digital swatching, and fulfillment. The Sampling & Merchanting Manager will own and enforce processes to facilitate efficient workflow and production, and also be responsible for communicating the progress of key projects to the organization.
1. Collaborate cross-functionally to define objectives and deliver best-in-industry sampling and merchandising materials
* Help Product Managers understand the sample book implications of their assortment.
* Hold cross-functional team members accountable for the accuracy of the sample book information provided.
* Hold cross-functional team members accountable for providing the information and materials needed for sample books on time.
* Facilitate defining the objectives and content of the sample book.
* Be accountable for the quantity of sample books and the specs that impact cost.
* Ensure team members understand the financial implications of their decisions.
2. Optimize sourcing: Quality, cost, service, support
* Ensure quotes are sent to vendors on time and prototypes are received on time.
* Ensure information to order sample book material is available, permission is obtained and sample book materials are ordered on time; assist with material calculation for sampling and swatching as necessary.
* Ensure material swatch master is provided to the sample book vendor on time.
3. Ensure brand consistency
* Ensure branded books have a consistent look and size.
* Work with the Creative Manager and Channel Marketing to ensure sampling and merchandising materials represent and position SWF brands appropriately.
4. Oversee benchmarking and market research activities
* Ensure benchmarking of competitor / peer sample books and swatching is completed in a timely manner: assess construction, quality, cost, functionality, features, etc.
* Ensure benchmarking of adjacent products / channels for new ideas to reduce investment, increase effectiveness, decrease lead time is done as needed.
* Work with Channel Managers to get feedback on effectiveness for continued product improvement.
* Coordinate with market research firms to validate design concepts
5. Own process and process improvement
* Effective management of all resources, inputs, outputs and timing for total project, total lifecycle of a sample book and/or merchandising program.
* Oversee the material collection and inspection to ensure the correct materials get to the sample book vendor on-time – create a process map to drive efficiency and effectiveness of this process.
* Create a more formal sampling change order process to ensure decisions to change are thought through, financial implications are considered, and changes are communicated to the team.
* Develop, implement and enforce a process to ensure any changes to the sample book assortment is agreed to and communicated appropriately; including to associates responsible for consumer / digital swatching.
* Develop, implement and enforce a process to communicate and execute digital swatching needs, including a process to have any new fabric swatches scanned for our websites and microsites on time.
6. Budget and schedule / project time lines
* Collaborate with Channel Managers on the development of the MCAST/Project Planning budget for sample books.
* Ensure sample books and consumer / digital swatching are developed on time and within budget.
* Oversee timing and completion creative briefs, sample book concept, sample book thumbnails and obtaining white book.
* Ensure artwork for sample books is completed on time, allowing time for copywriting, proofing and translations.
* Collaborate with Product and Channel Managers on individual project schedules; ensure alignment with program launch NPD schedule, including sampling, displays and electronic swatch scans.
* Find ways to pull time out of standard sample book schedule, decrease overall lead time.
7. Own cross-functional communication
* Communicate sample book and consumer / digital swatching schedules to cross-functional team members, as well as any other appropriate project details / changes.
* Responsible to communicate progress of key NPD sampling projects to the organization, including appropriate SLT members, i.e. critical sample book launches.
* Responsible for effective and timely communication with transportation to ensure merchandising produced overseas is tracked appropriately and arrives on schedule.
8. Lead and manage teams
* Manage team of Integrated Marketing sampling and fulfillment associates
* Lead cross-functional project teams: Channel, Product Management, Integrated Marketing, Purchasing, P&IC, etc. Define minimum expectations for each member of the sampling / digital swatching team, confirm these expectations with their manager.
* The purchasing agent and P&IC coordinators responsible for sample books and digital swatching would have dotted line responsibility to the Sampling & Merchandising Manager.
* Establish standards and metrics, measure performance, provide feedback.
* Communicate field input to internal associates and suppliers; collect input for product / process improvement.
* Utilizes quality/process tools and methodology in daily individual work.
* Utilizes quality/process tools and methodology on teams.
* Defines and documents individual processes within sphere of control.
* Ensures that others are trained as back-ups on (processes) within the area/department.
* Improves processes within sphere of control.
* Identifies waste and rework and enacts plan to improve/solve.
* Checks satisfaction of internal customers through use of quality tools and Customer/Supplier metrics.
Education and Experience
* Bachelor’s degree required; Industrial or Packaging Design with business emphasis, Merchandising, Marketing or Business education preferred with 5-10 years of experience.
* Experience with designing or managing the design of 3-dimensional / structural design for product sampling, POP merchandising and displays is required.
* Experience in home décor or custom consumer products preferred.
* Experience managing capital budgets preferred.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
* In-depth knowledge of printing technologies, papers, plastics, substrates, glues, and manufacturing technologies used for creating merchandising materials is required.
* Excellent communication skills for internal teams, internal customers, external suppliers of materials, vendors for sample books and swatching.
* Must have the ability to effectively lead and coach others, even if they’re not direct reports.
* Must be a proactive problem solver; not afraid to jump into the details of an issue.
* Organized work habits, familiar with office automation products, i.e. Lotus Notes, Microsoft Office (including MS Project).
* Must have the ability to work collaboratively with a wide range of associates from various disciplines.
* Must conduct themselves professionally; frequent contact with vendor partners and customers.
* Must have an analytical approach towards the business; ability to track project tasks and performance to budget.
* Must have the aptitude to manage multiple projects at the same time.