How Apparel Fulfillment Can Make the Apparel Industry Better?

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The apparel industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the e-commerce space. Its $759 billion global market valuation in 2021 is a testament to that superb growth. 

 

This has spurred more online stores to move to selling clothing, footwear, accessories, and other forms of apparel.

 

In e-commerce operations, order fulfillment is a major part of running a successful online store. 

 

Where new apparel stores go wrong is by using the wrong apparel fulfillment services for their order fulfillment. 

 

If you want your store to be successful, you need a fulfillment service provider that specialises in fashion and apparel fulfillment or has a division dedicated to that.  

 

This article will help you understand what apparel fulfillment entails and how to choose a top-notch apparel fulfillment service provider. 

 

What is Apparel Fulfillment?

 

What is Apparel Fulfillment

 

When an order comes in for a product, it is your duty as the business to ensure the product reaches your customer in good condition. 

 

When you are just starting out, handling your apparel fulfillment can be pretty straightforward but, as the business grows, you may need to employ outside help in the form of an apparel fulfillment service provider.

 

A ton goes on behind the scenes in apparel fulfillment, from taking orders accurately, organizing the inventory efficiently, and ensuring timely delivery, amongst other essential tasks.

 

A dedicated apparel fulfillment service provider will simplify all the logistics and operations involved, ensuring smooth functioning and timely order fulfillment for customers.

 

Why You Should Only Use Top-notch Apparel Fulfillment Partners

 

  1. Handling Sudden Order Surges: Apparel brands can face unexpected spikes in sales for various reasons, such as peak seasons, successful marketing campaigns, or a celebrity wearing or endorsing your products. 

 

For an online apparel store like yours, it’s super important to have a third-party logistics partner who can efficiently scale up to meet a sudden increase in demand. 

 

To support your business effectively, a top logistics service provider should have flexible fulfillment capabilities to adapt to any changes to your operations, including scaling throughput according to demand.

 

  1. Dealing with huge amounts of customer returns: Clothing and other apparel products face higher return rates in online shopping due to challenges like finding the right fit and personal preferences.

 

Around 30% of normal e-commerce orders get returned, and apparel sees even more returns than other products. People often buy different sizes, planning to return the ones that don’t fit.

 

The process of handling returned apparel can be tricky. Some, like swimsuits and underwear, can’t be resold without special treatment. Others may need steaming and new packaging. 

 

That’s why it’s a good idea to let professionals manage the process of dealing with returned clothes.

 

  1. Specialized Storage and Handling: Apparel companies tend to have many different product variations with various styles, colors, and sizes. 

 

Because these products can appear quite similar at first glance, it creates a challenge during the fulfillment process, especially when it comes to selecting and packing orders.

 

Your 3PL service provider should have procedures and software set in place to make these logistics as seamless as possible.

 

Globallyfulfill does this and more

 

Globallyfulfill does this and more. Their cutting-edge inventory management software gives you real-time control over your inventory. 

 

Finally, their warehousing system is designed to preserve the optimal conditions for each item guaranteeing the longevity and quality of your merchandise.

 

  1. Shipping in high volumes: Successful online clothing stores usually send out lots of small packages. 

 

But do they send enough to get discounts on shipping? When a fulfillment services company combines the orders from all its clients, it can negotiate better rates with major shipping carriers. 

 

This can save apparel brands a lot of money by cutting down on unnecessary shipping costs. 

 

For example, if you ship 50,000 orders every month, using the combined shipping power of your 3PL to lower your shipping rate by $0.75 per package could save you $450,000 a year.

 

Globallyfulfill’s partnerships with local and international shipping carriers provide customers with considerable flexibility in shipping and delivering packages. Not only that, it has a good record of delivering products accurately.

 

  1. Custom packaging needs and other services: While plain brown boxes work for many products, the connection consumers have with clothing and accessories makes packaging more crucial in the fashion world. 

 

The unboxing experience matters to fashion shoppers and is part of the overall customer journey. 

 

Not all providers offer truly custom packaging; for example, Amazon FBA uses its own branded boxes without special inserts or filler materials. It’s essential to partner with apparel fulfillment companies that provide custom packaging to reflect your brand.

 

Aside from custom packaging, your third-party logistics partner should also provide various value-added services tailored to the apparel industry, such as labeling, gift cards, custom packaging, hang tags, marketing material inserts, garment hanging, merchandise barcoding, and more. 

 

How To Choose A Great Apparel Fulfillment Partner

 

Let’s see how you can pick a great apparel fulfillment partner. If you’re in China, check out this article instead.

 

Determine your business needs

 

  1. Determine your business needs: 

Deciding to outsource order fulfillment is a significant commitment that should be approached thoughtfully, based on a solid business case.

 

Typically, outsourcing becomes a sensible option when you’re handling more than 100 orders each month. As orders increase, having a third party handle the shipping process can actually save money.

 

It’s not strictly a matter of reaching 100 orders and then outsourcing. The signs that it’s time for help are a bit more nuanced:

  • If your customer size is expanding fast.
  • You cannot meet up with your orders quickly and accurately as before.
  • Shipping fees start getting ridiculously high.
  • Your physical storage space is starting to run out.

 

Also, consider your products.

 

Understanding what sort of storage and handling needs your apparel requires is a top priority for you to obtain any profit. Here’s a breakdown:

 

  • Fragile clothing: These need secure packaging, correct temperature, and gentle handling to avoid any damage during shipping.
  • High-Value Products: Extra security measures may be necessary to protect against theft or loss. For example, high-quality silk or precious jewels studded clothing.
  • Diverse Product Range: If you offer a variety of products, it’s important you work with a fulfillment company that can deal with different requirements.

 

By thoroughly assessing your product specifics, you can pick a company that can store, handle, and ship them in a way that maintains their quality and minimizes risks throughout the entire fulfillment process.

 

  1. Figure out the features your ideal apparel fulfillment provider should have
    Your fulfillment partner should be able to easily handle your flow of orders as they increase and decrease without having to sacrifice any service quality. 

 

They should also be able to adapt to your evolving needs, like expanding product lines or entering new markets. 

 

They should be able to provide customizing services for you to tailor your approach to suit your brand’s unique requirements. 

 

Opt for a partner who uses state-of-the-art systems such as real-time inventory tracking that can reduce human errors such as overstocking and automated order processing that streamline the operations of order receipt to delivery. 

 

Their tracking technologies should provide real-time updates on order status, building transparency and trust with you and your customers. A tech-savvy fulfillment partner will significantly elevate operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

 

  1. Knowing your preferences and needs, time to start research:

 

To ensure you choose the right order fulfillment center for your company, follow these steps:

 

Compile a List of Candidates

First create a list of order fulfillment centers that meet your company’s requirements. Prioritize factors other than cost at this stage, as rates are often not publicly displayed online.

 

Look for reviews

Look for reviews on neutral third-party websites like Trustpilot, Google Reviews, or G2 for each candidate on your list. Focus not only on the average score but also on negative reviews. 

 

Pay attention to the feedback about communication, delays, damage, and unexpected costs – these are crucial aspects that can impact your order fulfillment.

 

Check references

Once you’ve gathered publicly available information, consider reaching out to customers whose names appear in case studies and testimonials. 

 

While responses are not guaranteed, contacting references provides insights that may not be reflected in online reviews. This step adds a personal touch and can reveal details that might be overlooked in online feedback.

 

Next, you request for quotes

Once you’ve shortlisted a few potential order fulfillment partners, it’s time to ask for quotes. The process is simple, but understanding how pricing works with these companies can be a bit tricky.

 

There are generally four types of fees to consider. Pick-and-pack fees and postage fees apply to each other. The first covers warehouse labor costs, while the latter depends on package weight, destination, and delivery speed.

 

Next are account fees and storage fees. Account fees vary, but they are generally reasonable. Storage fees, on the other hand, depend on the amount of inventory you have in the warehouse.

 

Additionally, value-added services like kitting and assembly are priced separately due to manual labor.

 

When reviewing quotes, figure out your sales volume and any potential need for added services. Use the quotes to estimate your setup costs. While choosing the cheapest warehouse might not be the best, make sure the cost remains competitive.

 

Be on the lookout for any major red flags:

Evaluating a company during the quote request process is your chance to check for reliability. Look out for these red flags before committing:

 

  • Be wary of infrequent or poor-quality communication.
  • Avoid long-term contracts or confusing rules. To be on the safe side, have these contracts checked by your lawyers.
  • Look out for complicated pricing or hidden fees.
  • Ensure the software meets high standards.
  • Check for problems in the returns process.

 

If you spot any of these red flags, it’s wise to consider other partners. While order fulfillment is complex, the right partner should simplify things with knowledgeable account reps, clear pricing, and user-friendly software.

 

That’s pretty much all you need. You could do more research into the traits you should be looking for in a fulfillment service provider. 

 

Conclusion

 

Having a fulfillment partner that understands your business can make a huge difference. They not only bring efficiency to your operations but also have the ability to adapt to changing demands and scale up as your business grows. 

 

Finding the right partner involves doing your homework, having meaningful conversations with potential candidates, and carefully considering your options. It’s about finding a match that fits well with both your current needs and future growth plans. 

 

To make this search fast for you, I would advise you to use Globallyfulfill. As you have seen throughout this article, they check all the boxes of being a great and reliable apparel fulfillment service provider. 

 

Ultimately, the partnership you choose is key to running your business smoothly. It’s about creating a relationship that grows and adapts with your business, contributing to its overall success.

 

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