Having the right 3PL partner can make or break your business, especially in the apparel industry. Because selling apparel online presents a different set of fulfillment challenges that other products do not, it is critical to have an experienced fulfillment service provider that is knowledgeable of accurately managing apparel fulfillment. Let’s discuss five reasons why apparel fulfillment is complex, and how to ensure you have the right 3PL partner:
Complex inventory (High SKU assortments)
One of the main complexities of apparel fulfillment is the high number of SKUs (stock keeping units) that come with apparel. For example, for every style and SKU, there’s also about 5-6 sizes of that item and they all look similar. If you don’t have modern systems and software in place to help manage this high volume of SKUs, it can become a disaster very quickly.
One way to ensure you have the right 3PL partner handling your apparel fulfillment needs is to ask if they have technology necessary to manage your company’s inventory as efficiently as possible. They need to ensure proper inventory management processes and be able to identify any slow-moving inventory to make room for new merchandise (because let’s face it, fashion does evolve rather quickly).
At Fulfyld, our robust software helps to actively manage our client’s inventory and keeps our inventory management system as lean as possible. Our effective SKU assortment strategy assists in preserving all inventory so that it is organized and more efficient for picking. A helpful way we manage inventory is by having RF scanning ability (this is another way to guarantee you have the right 3PL partner).
It is necessary for your apparel fulfillment service provider to be able to bar code all products for proper warehouse management and picking. Believe it or not, a purple dress in a size small looks very similar to a size large when they are folded on shelves. However, one way to easily determine the difference in sizes is by scanning the bar code. Your 3PL partner will quickly be able to tell the difference in the SKUs by using RF scanning capabilities.
Order accuracy importance
Order accuracy is a top priority for ecommerce fulfillment, especially apparel. As the ecommerce industry grows so do the demands of consumers, so its imperative to have the proper procedures in place to accurately pick, pack, fulfill and ship customers’ orders accurately and consistently.
To prevent any hiccups in the supply chain, our warehouse team is well trained on the best fulfillment strategies to swiftly meet your apparel fulfillment needs at Fulfyld. From picking and packing to bundling your products, we know the importance of order accuracy. By improving your order accuracy rate, you will ultimately improve your customer service as well, as you continue to meet the needs of your customers.
Packaging demands and requirements
Just like order accuracy is important, the way your products are packaged (whether direct to consumer or business to business) is also a top priority. Presentation is just as crucial as the actual product itself. It is vital to partner with a 3PL that has the ability to accommodate your packaging needs and requests. For example, if your products need to be folded, bagged, packed or bundled a certain way, be sure to clarify these needs with your fulfillment service provider. Make your expectations clear so that there are no gray areas on how your products should leave the facility. It is best practice to put policies in place from the very beginning, ensuring those expectations are met.
It is extremely beneficial to have a 3PL partner that can meet the demands and expectations of your ecommerce apparel company. Our team works hard to support our customers by providing unique, customized ecommerce fulfillment. We are dedicated to helping you grow your ecommerce apparel company, and that starts with being able to meet the needs of your brand!
Effective returns management strategy
The returns management process is just as important as the fulfillment process. How does your current 3PL handle returns? If they don’t handle this process, it can be extremely difficult to maintain the satisfaction of your customers and resolve returns in a timely manner.
Working with an experienced 3PL can minimize many unique apparel fulfillment challenges, such as returns. Depending on the type of clothing you sell, the arrangement of the return can differ. For instance, the way a return for a pair of jeans or a t-shirt is processed would be much different than lingerie or other intimates. Be sure that your 3PL partner is knowledgeable on how to properly process each return.
Another crucial factor to an effective returns management strategy is being able to process and restore items that are resalable. All items that are returned are not defective. Sometimes customers order the wrong size, color, style, etc. Or maybe they’ve simply changed their mind about the product. The right 3PL is able to effectively get your non-defective, returned items restocked and ready to be resold.
At Fulfyld, we implement an efficient, flexible and inclusive returns management process. Our warehouse team thoroughly inspects the condition of the returned items while dually providing a smooth customer experience for your customers. Each item can be returned, processed, replaced and/or repositioned in a swift manner. We have the software capabilities to share real-time updates about each return and how its currently being handled. Fulfyld customers can tell us exactly what they want to do with their returned products, whether that’s restock or donate, and we’ll handle each return from there.
Unique value-added services
Value-added services like kitting, bundling or even customization are definitely advantages to consider when determining whether you have the right 3PL partner or not. Let’s say you sell products that are sold together, but they are manufactured separately. The right 3PL partner will be able to meet your kitting needs and easily combine your products with no problem.
Here at Fulfyd, providing unique value-added services with your ecommerce fulfillment is our job. We strive to make handling fulfillment easier for you. Packaging, kitting, labeling, personalization and customization services are a few value-added services we offer at Fulfyld. We pretty much meet the need of every request with our clients, so that all of your 3PL services are under one roof with an efficient, streamlined process.
In all honesty, apparel fulfillment can be extremely challenging. However, having an experienced 3PL partner who understands the complexities of the online apparel industry will greatly reduce the stress that comes with these challenges. Not only will your stress be reduced, but your fulfillment and shipping costs as well. The right 3PL partner will improve your inventory management process and provide a reliable, cost-effective supply chain that accurately delivers your products hassle-free.
If Fulfyld sounds like the right 3PL partner to meet all of your customized ecommerce fulfillment needs, get in touch with us today so that we can further discuss the specific needs of your business.