Previous experience throws light on trade

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2008, 12:00am

Vivian Wu, merchandiser at Kingfisher, sees her role as being the link between customers and vendors

I have 10 years of experience in lighting merchandising. I have worked at Kingfisher for three years and I love it. The company is very open-minded and the team is friendly and close.

My role is the messenger and, being the middle person between our customers and the vendors, I need to understand what our customers are looking for and match the requests with our vendors. It involves constant discussion and negotiation between the two parties. I always try to offer the best solution to each party rather than taking sides, which doesn't help to solve problems.

My previous five years were spent working at a lighting factory which gave me insight into what the industry entails and helped me a great deal in my present position. I can speak to the vendor in their language and it is much more convincing. It is important to develop a close relationship with them so that they come to you first when a new product arrives.

To keep in touch with the trends and maintain competitiveness, I read design magazines, browse websites and attend trade fairs. I went to the trade fair in Frankfurt and learned a lot. Usually I go to three to four trade fairs a year, mostly in South China and sometimes in Europe. I also visit the factories on the mainland.

I enjoy the staff training in the company. For example, a French designer will explain to us the latest or future trends and I will follow that direction in sourcing the materials and products. Sometimes we have to educate our vendors with the trend information; other times they will give us input on what is the leading design.

I consider myself aggressive and outgoing. The fact that I enjoy interacting with people makes me suitable for what I do. The biggest satisfaction in the job is having the chance to talk to people and offer them solutions. But this is the biggest challenge. Sometimes pricing can be a touchy issue to tackle. When dealing with that, my attitude is to be reasonable and aim at a fair deal for all parties to create a win-win situation. I believe any problem can be solved with the right attitude.

I look forward to advancing my career. My next goal is to be assistant product sourcing manager. I need to be trained in my management skills and be involved in more decision making while working with vendors.