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?
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.
Help to 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.