When you are in the clothing business, you spend much time and effort on ensuring your customers get quality apparel that fits their exact specifications. You labor over getting everything just right so that your apparel company will succeed.
It should really be no different when you are considering how to get your apparel to the right place at the right time. But, how can you find apparel fulfillment services that fit your company requirements like a glove?
Fulfillment Challenges Unique to the Apparel Industry
Apparel fulfillment comes with its own unique set of complications. In order to truly find the right fit for your company, you must consider the following issues when choosing an appropriate fulfillment service:
1) Varied and Complicated Inventory
There are few industries that produce as varied an inventory as the clothing industry. Consider the variety of colors and sizes for each type of clothing product you offer. Add to that the multitude of different products available and it is easy to see why apparel fulfillment is a challenging venture.
An apparel fulfillment service must be able to manage your inventory with ease. The fulfillment service must have systems in place to manage a sometimes rapidly growing inventory, including some way to differentiate sizes of otherwise identical items in their inventory systems.
2) Packaging with Special Requirements
Does your apparel require hangers for storage? If so, your apparel fulfillment service must have dedicated hanging space to house and manage your inventory appropriately.
Additionally, it is essential that you find an apparel fulfillment service which will provide packaging that meets your company standards. For instance, if your inventory must be folded, bagged, or packaged in a certain way, you must ascertain if the service is able to meet your unique requirements.
Another important consideration here is the cleanliness of the warehousing facility. Unclean conditions in the warehouse can easily ruin your inventory. Be certain to vet any fulfillment service as to its policies and procedures to ensure that your apparel stays in pristine condition and is safe from dust, dirt, and grime.
3) Barcode Scanning Capability and Frequency
While barcode scanning technology makes inventory management an easier process in general, in the apparel industry it can mean the difference between smooth operational processes and absolute disaster.
Why is this the case? RF scanning is a quick and painless way to differentiate items that are identical in color, but varied in size. Therefore, RF scanning eliminates an element of human error in fulfillment services.
Ideally, RF scanning should be used at multiple points in the inventory process. When seeking an apparel fulfillment company, look for one that, at a minimum, uses RF scanning at the following crucial inventory stages:
- order picking
- inventory control
RF scanning should integrate with the inventory control system in such a way that you can easily monitor the status of your inventory at any given time. This capability to provide constant visibility is a hallmark of an apparel fulfillment service that is a good fit.
4) Handling Returns
Ecommerce apparel companies face another challenge in the form of returns. With industry averages estimated to be as high as 20 to 50 percent, returns can be a major headache for your fulfillment service.
Their policy for handling returns must integrate with your return policy to be effective. Why is this important? A fulfillment service that promptly handles all returns by notifying you, inspecting all items for wear and stains, and following your return policy to the letter by either returning the item to you or restocking it into inventory will keep your inventory moving at a steady pace.
A fulfillment service that does not handle returns appropriately or promptly creates a backlog of merchandise that is not sold in a timely manner.
Apparel Fulfillment Services – Find the Right Fit
In addition to these industry-specific issues, your fulfillment service must also provide cost-effective options and other standard requirements for ecommerce.
If you are looking for a fulfillment service that meets your particular needs, we can get you multiple quotes from high quality apparel fulfillment services companies. We connect businesses like yours everyday with thoroughly screened warehousing and fulfillment companies that meet the specific needs of their project.
3PL Companies for a Footwear Business: Finding Proper Footing in Logistics
Locating a 3PL company for a footwear businesses has its own set of challenges outside most other business structures. The footwear industry continues to face issues of global manufacturing, limited product life cycles, and inventory complexities. When you add the fickleness of the public in fashion and in footwear trends, it makes it tougher for you and your fulfillment center.
That’s why finding a 3PL with vast experience in the footwear industry is mandatory to help in logistics. Finding one can help you ship your products faster so your prospective customers stay loyal.
No matter what markets you want to conquer nationwide, it’s not difficult to find a 3PL in every American city. However, only a small fraction are probably suitable for your footwear company.
What should you look for in a 3PL to help address your most pressing concerns? Also, what does the general footwear industry do to find the best distribution warehouses for them?
Lower Operation Costs
Surveys show those in the footwear business frequently focus on cost as a top priority in warehouse selection. Much of this goes by the shift to e-commerce and needing more equipment to keep up with demand. Searching for omni-channel fulfillment is the prime directive in this case without costing a fortune.
One example in operations cost is locating a 3PL with automated systems to reduce time shipping orders. This also includes increased supply chain visibility with business partners.
Even more important is finding a 3PL with enough space to handle the influx of footwear shipments. It’s now the #1 priority for many warehouses in this industry. That’s why it’s important to ask a warehouse how many square feet they have, and whether they still have physical room to expand.
Many footwear companies want a two-point distribution system to allow quicker shipments to customers. The trend goes by the idea that having shipments from the west coast only costs more trucking items to the east coast.
Using an east coast location for your 3PL makes more sense since 75% of the U.S. population lives east of the Mississippi River. Nevertheless, don’t discount using west coast locations since many interstates can reach east coast cities in a matter of a day or two.
For international shipping, you’ll want to find a 3PL that has experience with global regulations. Reaching markets like Mexico or in Asia can open new doors through many of the best American ports on either coast.
Dealing with Color Differences During Shipping
If many of your footwear goes in different colored boxes, your fulfillment center needs to have a good grasp of color differences. You can find out if your 3PL has experience with this through the vetting process.
Since placing the proper shoes in the right color box is an important part of the branding process, you don’t want mistakes. Analyze the background of the warehouse and see what their track record is in proper packaging and what kind of equipment makes it work more efficiently.
Using a 3PL with Green Practices
It’s possible you want to stick with more green practices in your footwear business. If so, you’ll need to find a 3PL that uses the green practices and best environmental practices in shipping your goods to customers.
Remember that using more sustainable methods in your distribution methods can work as a sense of branding. You may want organic material in your packaging, and that can take a more specialized 3PL.
All of these factors require the best research tools to find the warehouse you need.
How can Pick & Pack Vendors Tailor for the Fashion and Apparel Industry?
Pick & Pack Warehouses offer cost efficient shipping & warehousing methods for business – including pick and pack for apparel. Vendors that specialize in Fashion and Apparel, provide shipments and storage for flat packed clothing such as T-shirts as well as Garment-On-Hanger (G.O.H) services. So what should you consider when choosing a Vendor?
- Experience – Have they done this before? If not, do they have sophisticated systems and clean facilities to be successful? Pick and Pack for Apparel is quite complex, so experience counts.
- Good Security – Check out how your merchandise will be protected. Do you need to worry about how it is stored? Protected from damage?
- Technology and Software – Is the Vendor operating with up-to-date systems for tracking and distribution
- Personalized Service – Will they work with you to meet or exceed your needs. And how willing are they to do so?
- Customer Testimonies – How satisfied is there past and existing customers. Any reoccurring problems or complaints? Ask pick and pack apparel companies for references and do your due diligence.
- Staff – Do they have well trained staff?
- Location – Can they operate in the areas you need to deliver to
- Organization – How well are they organized, is their location neat, clean?
Our company prides itself in Pre-checking and pre-qualifying its Vendors. We do the work for you, but you are welcome to ask questions and should. In the case of fashion and apparel pick and pack companies, we can connect you with organizations that specialize in this very detail oriented niche.
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