How To: Retail Apparel And Accessory Fulfillment For Ecommerce
Is your ecommerce business centered around selling apparel and accessories?
Order fulfillment is a part of the customer experience you can’t control as a business owner.
You may have autonomy over your ads, your customer support emails, your social media posts and so on, but once the order is out the door, you place your reputation in someone else’s hands.
Since product shipping can have a huge impact on the success or failure of an ecommerce business, you have to choose your partners carefully. This is all the more true when it comes to apparel and accessory fulfillment, as there are constant changes in this sector.
What are some of the challenges connected to apparel and accessory fulfillment?
Packaging Apparel And Accessory Items
No matter what you’re shipping, presentation is a big deal, but this is all the more true when it comes to apparel and accessories. You’ll want to make sure that your distribution centre has policies and procedures around cleanliness, as you don’t want your orders to ship with dust and other debris in them.
Ensure that your fulfillment partner is willing to work with you on order presentation:
- Clothing may need to be folded in a certain way.
- Accessories may need to be secured so as not to break in transport.
You need to work with them to make sure that your product leaves their distribution centre according to your instructions and arrives in the pristine condition that reflects your brand.
Inventory Related Complexities
Apparel and accessory items often come in different sizes and colors:
Unfortunately, this can make it hard to differentiate between similar item. This problem is compounded by the fact that your inventory can grow very quickly, and as result, can become harder and harder to manage over time.
When you’re not working with a detail-oriented fulfillment center, your customers could end up getting the wrong items in the mail (this is connected to another major challenge with fulfillment; more on that in a moment).
One way to avoid mishaps, make sure that your shipping partner has experience in the apparel and accessory sector.
See if they have the right systems in place to deal with the complexities of shipping such products; for instance, check if they have simple methods of telling apart small and medium sized shirts of the same color.
High Return Rates
For better or for worse, apparel and accessory orders tend to have a higher return rate than other products in ecommerce.
Does your shipping centre handle returns?
Many do not. Before giving your business to any one company, you should definitely ensure that they have a way of dealing with returned orders.
Ask them how they handle returns for other customers they work with.
It is definitely in your best interest if returns are handled smoothly and efficiently, as the sooner you can get them back in your inventory, the sooner they can be resold.
It can be helpful to let your fulfillment partner know how to deal with returned goods. Some will likely need to be discarded, while others will remain in good enough condition to be sold again–if they are not damaged or otherwise below your standard of sellability.
Partnering with a competent full service logistics company can be a very effective way of dealing with some of the challenges associated with apparel and accessory fulfillment. Of course, due diligence still lies with the business owner.
You have to choose the right shipping partner. That’s the bottom line. If you don’t, you could risk damaging your reputation, which can prove very difficult to restore.
Although the above should not be considered a comprehensive list of challenges that exist in apparel and accessories, it is a good starting point.
Make sure you know the ins and outs of the industry before getting into it; you will save yourself from some major headaches.