The Merchandising Glossary: A Guide to Being an Allocator

When first starting in the role of an allocator, phrases were being thrown around – and I just did not have a clue. So, I’ve taken the liberty to create a somewhat definitive guide to the language used.

I recently moved from Manchester to London. It’s full circle because I’m originally from London and moved to Manchester 11 months ago. I chose to move back to London because I desperately wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming a merchandiser, and unfortunately there are no real opportunities to do this outside of London. The reason being is that London is the hub of fashion company head offices. Manchester has two.

I will be writing several other blog posts on merchandising, including a day in the life of an allocator, the application process, and different branches in merchandising.


Please feel free to Ctrl+F a particular phrase you want to know more about.

  • IAQ: Initial allocation quantity. When the merchandiser creates the merchandising plan, they also plan it by looking at the history of sales of the particular department and calculate how many units of a garment a store should be provided with depending on its grade.
  • OB: Own buy. The amount of stock bought to be sold in retail stores/online stores. This means that it excludes franchise and wholesale.
  • DC: Distribution centre. Where all the garments are sent to for storage and are shipped out of.
  • Full hitThe order expected has come in its whole batch to the DC.
  • First hit: In the first delivery expected, only a partial amount has arrived to the DC.
  • BalanceThis is the latter order of the first hit.
  • In free: When an item is described as being “in free”, this means that the order expected has arrived in the DC and is ready for allocation.
  • DNA: [Order] Did not arrive.
  • Offsite: Stock is sent here when the DC is full. When stock is booked here, it takes longer to arrive.
  • BuildRather than letting the system automatically replenish sold units, you manually send the store extra stock.
  • Consolidation: Moving stock from one store to another to drive higher full price sell through.
  • Sell through: How much % has been sold from the DC stock.
  • SKUStyle, colour, and size level code.
  • EAN: Style, colour, and size code on a barcode.
  • Extending lines: Sending stock to a site (store/online store) outside of its banding.
  • Store grading: Stores are graded depending on how much stock they sell. The higher the grade, the more stock is sent to the store.
  • Banding: Garments have particular bandings. For example, an expensive and more premium item may only reach the top graded stores, e.g. grade 1 and 2. These are ordered at a lower quantity. However, something like a plain t-shirt will be classed at a much lower banding, and is ordered in bulk to reach through to all store gradings.
  • MFO: Made for outlet. Outlets have increasingly become a more popular market and many brands are starting to use left over fabric and cheaper product manufacturing methods to produce stock for outlets only. These still have a markdown price; but have always had the intention of being sold at the mark down price.
  • MD: Mark down.
  • F&A: Footwear and accessories.
  • IntakeThe quantity of stock taken to the DC.
  • Stock: the merchandise kept in the store or warehouse for the purpose of selling.
  • AWAutumn/Winter
  • SS: Spring/Summer
  • Allocate: sending stock from the DC to sites.
  • Site: store or web.
  • Size Ratio: The ratio which each size is allocated across all relevant branches.
  • Replen: Replenishment on a style/size/colour of a unit that has been sold.
  • QC: quality control. Items are tested for their quality and for any faults.
  • OutletOutlet styles contain mark downs, damages, and also MFO.
  • Damages: These can range from external blemishes (e.g. foundation marks), to components of the garments that differ from the whole batch (e.g. a jacket having a different colour lining to the rest of the batch).
  • Cover: How many weeks worth of stock there is if it carries on selling at the unit it has sold at that week.
  • % Cont: Percentage contribution of how much a particular store has sold from the overall total sales.
  • Web requests: Where stock is taken from web to support store sales.
  • PAR: A system which automatically replenishes units sold by a site. It is also self-adjusting, meaning that if a store’s performance with a particular style goes down, the PAR matches this. For example, a size 8 black dress’ PAR is set to 2, with a minimum of 1, and a maximum of 3. If the store does not perform to sell 2 as expected, but only sells one, then the PAR will go down to 1.
  • Line Details/B01 Report: This report shows you total units of all stock with how much has been sold, the sell-through rate, branch sales, web sales, web cover, store cover, as well as last weeks’ sales. You can use this report to see if you want to push extra stock to stores or extend any lines.
  • Wholesale: Other hosts or companies which buy lines of the brand to sell on their websites and stores. Examples include: Very, Zalando, ASOS. You will usually reserve stock for wholesalers when allocating.
  • Forecast reportsA report from the product developing or buying team with all stock coming in advance. Usually a week in advance.
  • ESS: End of season sale.
  • Tight buy: This is when there is limited stock to allocate to all the bands in a full size ratio. This is often the case when you have a first hit or a balance. You may have to prioritise top selling stores only.
  • FPMD: Full price/mark down
  • Solus: stand alone brand store (not a concession).
  • Plan: Where stock is allocated to select stores rather than by grade.
  • Covers by band: This report shows you all sales units, including last years sales units, the variants, the % cont, cover, and store stock.
  • DC res: This report shows you what is in the DC, on hold for web stores, outlets, and all stores.
  • Stockpiling: This is where you build up stock to be sent to a new store that is opening.
  • Substitute: Where you substitute a running style by updating its style code.
  • Slow sellers: This report is run for individual stores which are starting to hit their capacity with regards to stock they are holding. From this you decide whether to move stock out in consolidations. However, through the peak seasons, head office relies on the stores to just sell the stock they have.

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