6 ways outsourcing apparel fulfillment services can benefit your online business
Online consumer spending is higher than ever. In 2020, consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants, which translates to a massive 44 percent increase from 2019. This spending is fueling the eCommerce sector and enabling online businesses that sell clothing, accessories, and other apparel to thrive.
However, apparel businesses aren’t without their challenges. Shipping costs are high, and managing fulfillment for a growing company can be difficult. Shipping alone can account for up to 25 percent of business costs for online retailers. Problems with fulfillment, such as over-packing items or sending the wrong product, can lead to higher costs and reduce customer retention.
This is why so many online merchants use an apparel fulfillment service to handle distribution and logistics. A third-party company will have the technology, processes, labor, and warehouse size to streamline order fulfillment, increase accuracy, and help your business reduce your fulfillment and shipping costs.
What does a fulfillment service provide?
When you partner with an apparel fulfillment company, all of the tasks associated with preparing and shipping out orders are taken off your plate. Your provider will store, pack, invoice, and ship your products to customers. As a result, you and your team will have more time to focus on growing your business and engaging with customers.
Why your eCommerce business should outsource fulfillment
Let’s look at how working with a third-party fulfillment company can help your apparel business grow.
1. Faster shipping rates
If you are currently fulfilling orders in-house and shipping from your business’s location, your customers are likely waiting longer than they would if you used a fulfillment service. Fulfillment centers have warehouse facilities in locations that make shipping to cities across the U.S. faster. You’ll find that shipping from a centrally-located warehouse can reduce shipping costs and speed delivery times.
2. Smaller operating costs
When you outsource, you’re paying a company to complete some of the tasks you do in-house. If they can do it more efficiently and effectively than you, at scale, you’re going to save money.
This is the primary benefit of working with a fulfillment company. Expenses such as rent costs for the warehouse space, utilities, labor, equipment, and IT management are covered by the fulfillment company, allowing you to save on operating costs. You’ll also be able to cut back on time spent hiring, training, and managing employees that you would otherwise need for picking and shipping.
3. Easier scaling
Companies that manage distribution and fulfillment in-house have to absorb overhead costs even when customer order numbers decrease. And, when orders increase and business starts booming, they have to invest in more labor, equipment, and possibly more warehouse space to handle the surge.
When you outsource, you pay for what you use. This allows you to cut back on fulfillment costs when business slows and increase capacity when it increases.
4. Streamlined inventory management
Whether you sell clothing, footwear, or accessories, you have likely run into issues with high SKU (stock-keeping unit) counts. In the apparel industry, trends change fast, and offering a variety of product colors and styles is all part of the process. So, you may have high SKU counts, seasonal turnover, and other challenges unique to the industry.
To overcome these, you need to have the right technology and processes in place. You’ll also need enough staff to handle the increased work involved.
Most small eCommerce businesses don’t have the capacity to make managing a high SKU count efficient. With a fulfillment company, your business benefits from the resources they have to streamline product picking without having to make a major capital or labor investment.
5. Higher fulfillment accuracy
One of the biggest risks of handling fulfillment in-house is accuracy. If you don’t have the staff on hand to deal with order spikes, seasonal swings in business, or simply fast growth, more mistakes are likely going to happen. Sending the wrong item, packing multiple products by mistake, or missing an item in a customer’s order can create several problems.
- Increased shipping costs for product returns or to ship missed items
- Lost business if customers decide not to purchase from your business again due to an inaccurate order
- More strain on customer service, as customers have to reach out for help to have their order resolved
A fulfillment company that specializes in distribution for the apparel industry has the resources to ensure high rates of accuracy, no matter how fast orders come in. This leads to fewer mistakes, fewer losses, and happier customers.
6. Improved customer experience
Streamlined, accurate fulfillment also frees up your customer service representatives to spend more time with customers who may have other issues or concerns, empowering your business to be there for your buyers. And in the competitive world of online apparel, great customer support can give your business a leading edge.
Poor customer service costs businesses more than $75 billion every year. By providing faster shipping, accurate orders, and reliable customer support, your eCommerce company can be the one that excels at the customer experience. You’ll be the business buyers keep coming back to.
The right fulfillment partner can help your business grow
With the right distribution and logistics company, the sky’s the limit for online apparel businesses. At FTDI West, we provide end-to-end fulfillment services for the apparel industry. Our state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution center is centrally located, enabling us to ship your products to customers quickly. We also have a large staff on hand and are more than capable of managing fulfillment for your business, whether you send out one hundred units a day or thousands.
We’re also equipped with industry-leading technology and an experienced team of logistics professionals who know how to help ensure your customers have the best experience possible. We can also work with you to find ways to reduce your shipping and operational costs, while delighting customers with reliable, fast shipping. Reach out today and find out how we can help your apparel business grow.