Statistics in recent years show that fashion e-commerce is booming on a global scale, and the sector is responding. Whilst the likes of boohoo.com have jumped straight into the online market with notable success, we're now seeing a huge array of fashion retailers from small boutiques to luxury and high street brands translate their offers to the digital space.
This is great news if you're in the business of clothing – but to maximize the opportunity you need to ensure that your logistics are up to scratch. Of course, a huge part of this means choosing a logistic fulfillment with the right blend of warehousing, garment processing and e-commerce expertise to carry your brand into the online world. Here are the key issues to consider to make sure you get this crucial decision right.
Know your provider's garment processing capacity
When you're talking to different firms it's vital to know exactly what they're capable of – and that means asking the right questions. How many units can they process an hour? What equipment do they use and how is this maintained? From tunnel pressing to relabelling you need to know that your garment processing team is fully qualified and equipped, able to deliver to your volume and critical paths, and work in a clean, well lit space supporting by full warehousing and distribution facilities.
Clarify your garment processing providers' quality control procedures
Quality control is vital – so explore systems thoroughly with the logistic fulfillment providers you're talking to. You should expect to see evidence of garment testing to AQL 2.5 standards plus testing criteria covering 100% of the product. Metal detection machines should be regularly serviced and staff training maintained and updated. You should also establish how the garment processing team will report to you, and whether that reporting is fully compliant with statutory duties and obligations.
Adding value to your fashion brand with e-commerce fulfillment
If you're moving your brand online – or starting up a new internet fashion store – then your fulfillment systems need to adapt to this market. There are now third party logistics firms out there who also specialize in integrated e-commerce fulfillment.
Explore the amount to which you can link your website with the providers' wireless management system (if they do not have one look elsewhere, it's a must these days). The ability to automate product listings, order fulfillment, shipment tracking and many other e-commerce functions may add a little more when negotiating your budget. But when you analyze that against the countless man hours you would spend trying to manage these functions manually you will almost certainly win out.
Finally, when you're looking for a garment processing provider remember one important thing. All business is about people – and now do you need to rely on your service provider more than in the world of logistics. A good provider will understand that and will be keen to develop their services to grow with your business. If the evidence checks out, the services meet your requirements and the relationship feels right then the chances are you're onto a winner.