Today, consumers mainly buy clothes online. There are multiple reasons why people buy clothes online. A few of the reasons may be that they live too far from a retail store, prefer to shop from the comforts of their own home, or they are looking for an outfit for a special occasion and need more variety. Whatever the reason may be, the fact is consumers are buying clothes online more than ever before.
In the United States, fashion e-commerce alone accounted for almost 30% of total fashion retail sales in 2020, making it one of, if not the highest revenue-generating e-commerce vertical. Perhaps the main reason fashion e-commerce is so prominent is because it offers more variety than in-store retail and it’s relatively easy to navigate. Some of the most common clothing categories are:
- Accessories such as socks, handbags and jewelry
- Infant, toddlers, and children’s wear
Retailers in the e-commerce fashion space face many challenges to building their business from the ground up. One such challenge involves warehouse logistics, specifically packaging and shipping the clothes. Managing your warehouse and overseeing apparel fulfillment requires understanding your packaging and shipping needs and how best to manage your inventory.
Best practices for packaging clothes
While it seems to be an easy process, packing and shipping clothes can be complex. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Avoid extra cushioning
- Choose rigid packaging and supportive dunnage to protect delicate clothing items
- Ship items together
- Use poly mailers over boxes whenever possible
- Weigh the packages before packing
- Fold clothes carefully before packing
- Email receipts instead of including printed materials
- Ship using the appropriately sized package
- Look for volume discounts
- Consider eco-friendly packaging options
Packaging and shipping your garments can be a stressful process. You can meticulously package your items but still receive notices that the order arrived damaged, opened or worse, it never arrived. While it’s not uncommon for clothing packages to get damaged or lost in transit, there are a few steps you can take to ensure the safe arrival of your clothing items at relatively low cost.
Best practices for shipping clothes
While shipping apparel, there are many points to consider to make sure the shipping process goes smoothly. These tips ensure the clothing items arrive in their original condition and leave the customer satisfied and motivated to repurchase in the future.
Get a tracking identification number and provide it to the customer
Providing tracking information gives customers a piece of mind. If customers can track their package online, they can check the shipping status and make sure their item is on its way. Implementing order tracking helps reduce the number of customer support tickets as well as the likelihood of theft, which in turn increases customer satisfaction.
Having an order management system (OMS) also allows you to have more control over the entire process with detailed reports along the way.
Selecting the best shipping option
The best shipping option may differ depending on the customer, the season, or the goods you sell. Customers tend to have their own preferred shipping option so it’s often better to offer various shipping options if possible to account for their needs.
Most customers have a preference when it comes to shipping speed and shipping carriers. While considering shipping speeds, you have several options to select. To fulfill a tight deadline, expedited and 2-day shipping are convenient options to ensure packages are delivered by the required date. For e-commerce clothing brands, offering customers 2-day shipping gives a competitive edge to your business.
During peak season, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to ship out your products since carriers tend to be overloaded and may end up delaying delivery.
Provide accurate information in advance to minimize returns
When selling on an online marketplace or on your own e-commerce store, you want to provide accurate product descriptions and clear return policies to prevent potential misunderstandings that may result in high customer return rates. Having an organized inventory management system can reduce return rates due to issues such as inappropriate product tags, inconsistent pricing, or conflicting product descriptions. It also improves customer satisfaction by creating an overall better user experience, making it more likely the customer will be a loyal, repeat buyer.
3PL fulfillment centers as the backbone for eCommerce retail stores
With the emergence of e-commerce shopping being only a click away, it is important to have a seamless supply chain management system, which includes managing warehousing and storage, inventory, picking, packaging, shipping, and tracking.
Logistics play an important role in fashion e-commerce. Businesses should consider whether to outsource their logistics to third party logistics (3PL) providers. Some 3PL fulfillment services include warehousing, consolidation service, order fulfillment, and customer service.
Warehousing refers to the storage of inventory in a warehouse or fulfillment center. A 3PL warehouse provides the infrastructure and technological management system so e-commerce retail business don’t have to invest in their own physical space to fulfill their logistics services. Moreover, fulfilling orders with 3PL companies is cost-effective, since e-commerce retailers can spread their overheads over multiple clients.
Many third-party logistics providers offer freight or cargo consolidation, where they pack multitudes of small packages into one large package, significantly reducing shipping cost.
Third-party logistics companies ensure that each order reaches the right place, at the right time, and in its original condition. They fulfill orders on your behalf while implementing best practices for warehousing, packaging, and shipping.
3PL fulfillment centers provide the facilities to meet the e-commerce retailer’s supply chain needs, from storage to shipment to returns. Advanced logistics providers use Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Systems Applications and Products (SAP) software to track the inventory and data processing of every order. This software can also allow for total control over returns management aka reverse logistics.
Ultimately, 3PL companies lessen the burden and allow e-commerce retailers to concentrate on their core competencies, driving efficiency, and supporting more profitable operations. Having organized, streamlined, and the best possible supply chain operations make the 3PL companies the backbone of online shopping.
Let ShipBots handle your apparel fulfillment!
ShipBots is a third party logistics fulfillment center that stores and ships your products on your behalf. At ShipBots, we utilize our comprehensive order fulfillment and warehouse management software to efficiently and cost-effectively ship, store, pick and pack for you. We integrate with most eCommerce platforms to accurately track and fulfill your orders so that you can focus on scaling your business. We offer our clients a variety of free recyclable dunnage included in our eCommerce order fulfillment pricing. Request a pricing quote today to see if we’d be a good fit for your business.