Shopping for clothes online is the new norm. In 2017, online apparel sales accounted for over 27% of all clothing sales in the country. Yet while it’s easy to get an apparel company off the ground from a product development and marketing perspective, even the largest apparel brands in the county today often struggle with their pick, pack & ship operations.
What Makes Apparel Fulfillment Different?
Several factors contribute to the challenges of apparel and clothing fulfillment. While every business is unique, many struggle with the same obstacles. Working with an organization that understands the challenges related to clothing and apparel fulfillment, and that’s developed the proper systems to address them head-on, is important.
Apparel Return Management
Returns are more common for apparel than other industries. Online sales generate an average return rate between 8-10%. Predictably, the largest spike in returns comes just after the holiday season.
Apparel is the biggest driver of returns – in fact, it’s not uncommon to see return rates in the 30-40%, depending on the product category. The key factor that drives a high return rate is sizing and fit. It’s so prevalent in-fact that we’ve seen apparel companies try to tackle this challenge with solutions like Warby Parker’s Home Try-On solution.
Bottom line: all these returns mean you need the best-in-class reverse logistics like ShipCalm has developed. Our solutions are designed to make returns easy on your customers, ensure quality, and increase restocking speed. With a branded returns portal, your customers can easily generate return postage labels. We can also ship out return labels and return packaging with the initial shipment (similar to the Warby Parker example).
We work hand-in-hand with clients to develop and document quality standards so we can determine what should go back to stock and what shouldn’t. We’ve engineered all of these systems to improve the process, so your products get back into inventory and the next customer can make a purchase – even for those items that are often limited quantities of a particular size or colorway.
Short Product Lifecycle
Fashion trends and seasonality mean that product lines change quickly. A given set of products may only be on shelves for a few months before the season is over and consumers are moving on. This often leaves eCommerce companies asking themselves, “What do we do with all of the random leftover sizes?”
ShipCalm can even help with this, by showing you how to easily re-package products into discounted bundle offerings. These packages are often called Mystery Packs, and an example would be taking 3 random T-Shirt designs from last season, all in size XXS, and packaging them together into a Mystery Pack for 50% off. Re-packaging allows you to easily move miscellaneous leftover products from a season.
High SKU Counts
Apparel is unlike almost any other product simply because of the need for so many different sizes. Coupled with high turnover from trends and seasonality, this leads to a very large number of SKUs. To keep things running efficiently, SKUs need to be organized and sorted by locations and bins, and all locations need to be flexible enough to scale up and down, often by thousands of SKUs at a time.
ShipCalm uses advanced warehouse management software (WMS) and flexible warehouse locations such as picking-bins, shoe-racks, or garment-hanging solutions to accommodate all your SKU needs. By assigning all your SKUs to a location, our team can easily find the right size and color for every order, improving efficiency and slashing your operational costs.
Last Minute Changes
Almost everyone’s experienced purchasing a gift online only to realize a few hours later that they really should have ordered a different size or color. Similar to returns, being able to make last-minute changes to orders before they ship is a critical part of meeting customers’ expectations.
While many apparel fulfillment companies have an attitude of once the order’s placed, there’s no changing it, we take a fundamentally different approach. We developed systems so we can easily pull back orders that have already been packed and are sitting by the back door waiting for the carrier to pick them up. The key to these solutions is our speed of communication. By giving you tools like an online portal that allows you to make order changes prior to packing, and an instant messaging platform so you can speak with your account management team, and even having access to the floor staff that literally packed the order, we can react quickly and efficiently, delighting even your most finicky customers.
Why Use ShipCalm for Apparel Fulfillment?
- Easy to use Technologies – Our team helps you integrate all your sales channels into one easy-to-use order management software (OMS) that provides clarity on inventory levels, orders, shipments, tracking information, and more. This also offers you flexibility, so you can add online marketplaces quickly and easily as you test out new revenue streams. Additionally, you’ll have reporting insights so you know which are your slowest moving SKUs and you can take action and keep your SKU count under control.
- Effortless Return Management – Let your customers use a branded returns portal, where the only thing they need to know to initiate a return is the order number and zip code. Not only that, but we’ll actually provide the customer service for phone calls, emails, and online chats needed so your returns-process can run smoothly.
- Quality You Can Trust – Our quality team and processes were built out of and modeled on medical device manufacturing. There’s literally no industry with more stringent quality standards, and we take all of those principles and apply them to our apparel fulfillment quality processes
What Do Our Apparel Fulfillment Services Include?
We offer affordable and flexible eFulfillment services for online merchants selling a range of apparel, including:
- Baby clothing
- And more
Start Shipping T Shirts and Apparel with ShipCalm!
If your brand needs help with apparel fulfillment services, look no further. We’re ready to get you up and running with our merchandise fulfillment services today. If you have any questions about our capabilities and services, start a chat, give us a call, or get a custom price. We’d love to hear about your unique challenges. Let’s develop a system together that can scale with your apparel fulfillment business and take you to the next level.