From warehouse to wardrobe: navigating fashion fulfillment

Blog Post
Fulfillment services are like the behind-the-scenes superheroes of the fashion world. They handle everything from processing orders to managing inventory and shipping products to customers’ doorsteps. These services leverage technology and automation to ensure smooth operations and minimize errors.
Quanticlo fashion brand office in Sarzana

In today’s fast-paced fashion industry, efficiency is the name of the game. Fashion brands need to deliver products swiftly and accurately to meet customer demands and stay competitive. This is where fulfillment services step in, offering a streamlined solution to manage logistics effectively.

Fashion fulfillment comes with its own unique hurdles. With a wide range of clothing types to manage, from delicate fabrics to sturdy footwear, the task can feel overwhelming. Let’s break down these challenges and discover practical solutions for success in fashion fulfillment.

Tailored 3PL Drives Sales

Quanticlo is a successful social selling fashion brand with over 1 million Instagram followers. In 2022 it outsourced its ecommerce fulfillment to Radial Europe to increase customer satisfaction, minimise errors and deliver within 24 hours.

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Handling with care

The world of apparel ecommerce is diverse, encompassing a wide array of items. From delicate silks and cozy t-shirts to rugged leather boots, each piece has its unique packaging, storage, and shipping needs.

Delicate fabrics are prone to damage if mishandled, which can result in returns and disappointed customers. Conversely, heavier items like shoes require robust packaging to withstand shipping challenges, potentially leading to higher costs.

Radial ensures that warehouse staff receive thorough training to handle items with care. If needed, we provide specialized packaging for delicate items.

Seasonal changes in fashion

Staying ahead of fashion trends demands anticipating stock requirements, particularly during peak seasons. Apparel ecommerce experiences notable shifts corresponding to different times of the year. Festivals, holidays, and fashion seasons often trigger sudden surges in orders. Efficient inventory management becomes paramount during these periods.

Radial offers the flexibility necessary for preparing for these seasonal peaks. There’s a fine line between having enough stock and avoiding overstocking or understocking. With our advanced WMS systems brands maintain sufficient stock levels to meet demand without excess inventory that could potentially go to waste, whilst avoiding resource wastage or missed sales opportunities.

Addressing the returns

Due to the inability to physically try products before purchasing, online apparel shopping naturally incurs a higher return rate. While this enhances customer satisfaction and trust, it presents logistical hurdles. A seamless, hassle-free return process can make all the difference in retaining a customer or losing them to competitors.

Efficiently managing returns is crucial for maintaining customer confidence. Once an item is returned, it’s imperative for businesses to promptly process, restock, or repurpose it to minimize losses. At Radial, our efficient systems ensure that the product cycle remains uninterrupted, optimizing inventory management and sales flow.

You can read more about the returns and ways to change how, why, when, and where customers return things in our article: “7 steps to cut down ecommerce returns”.

Technology’s role

In the fast-changing world of fulfillment, technology plays a crucial role, guaranteeing efficiency, precision, and flexibility. Let’s delve into how technology, from seamless integration with ecommerce platforms to the utilization of AI, is reshaping the contemporary fulfillment process, setting higher standards for operational excellence.

  • Integration with customers’ systems and ecommerce platforms

Effortless integration with customers’ systems and ecommerce platforms ensures swift communication of the whole fulfillment process and each orders details, expediting the entire process. We offer real-time contextualization of data within our inhouse developed client portal. This provides complete visibility throughout our supply chain, including fulfillment events, pick-pack-ship, and last-mile delivery events. 

Advantages: businesses can optimize their operations for maximum efficiency and provide accurate and up-to-date information to customers regarding the status of their orders. It decreases error likelihood, guarantees prompt order processing, and boosts customer satisfaction by ensuring timely deliveries.

  • Leveraging AI and Analytics

AI and data-driven practices has the capability to examine historical sales data, current market trends, and other pertinent metrics to anticipate future demand. Data serves as a driving force behind our operations, plays a crucial role in protecting our customers’ information and ensures full transparency and optimal performance of our services.

Advantages: Precise forecasting empowers businesses to oversee inventory more effectively, leading to decreased storage expenses and mitigated risks of stockouts or overstocking. Data transparency enables businesses to track and monitor their performance metrics in real-time. This allows for continuous improvement and optimization of services, ensuring that they meet or exceed customer expectations.

  • Automated sorting and packing system

Utilizing automation in the fulfillment process guarantees precise and swift picking and packing of orders.

Advantages: Accelerated order processing results in prompt deliveries. Automation also minimizes human error, ensuring customers receive accurate items in pristine condition.

Learn how Radial achieved a 4x increase in picking performance and a 1.5x increase in packing performance for its fashion customer.

AMR-s implementation: among Europe’s largest

Radial entered into a strategic partnership with Dematic, a leading provider of intelligent automation technology, to drive efficiency gains, enhance flexibility, and ensure future scalability, all aimed at optimizing both customer and employee experiences. By leveraging a blend of robotics, AI technologies, and human expertise within Radial’s Groningen facility, the company has achieved a 4x increase in picking performance and a 1.5x increase in packing performance for its fashion customer.  It can swiftly anticipate shifts in order volumes and respond with agility.

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Embracing sustainability

In the age where the environmental impacts of businesses are under close scrutiny, ecommerce, particularly in apparel, has started its journey towards sustainability. This shift isn’t just ethically sound but is also becoming a crucial aspect in retaining environmentally conscious consumers.

  • Green packaging solutions

Traditional packaging materials, often plastic-based, have raised environmental concerns. Apparel companies are now seeking biodegradable or recyclable alternatives. Whether through minimalist packaging to reduce waste or utilizing materials like cornstarch and mushroom roots for sustainable packaging, there’s a visible effort to decrease the carbon footprint.

  • Efficient transportation methods

Transportation remains a significant contributor to carbon emissions. Radial works with carriers that minimise and transparently report carbon emissions. Consequently, we are implementing green solutions, such as bicycle couriers, and carriers setting up electric-only vehicle networks and utilising Sustainable Aviation Fuel with 30% recycled content. Some partners are using solar panels for their sustainability practices.

Deliveries to parcel lockers and pick-up points constitute an increasing percentage of our deliveries reducing our carbon footprint by consolidating deliveries to a single address. This trend aligns with the growing preference of end customers for flexible hours and parcel pick-up locations.

Our efforts ensure that the journey of products from the warehouse to the consumer is as environmentally friendly as possible.

If you want to learn more about our approach to transportation management, read the interview with Kamil Zieliński, Director of Transport Solutions Radial EU.

  • Strategies for returned goods

Returns are inevitable in ecommerce. Rather than letting returned items go to waste, companies are focusing on recycling or repurposing these goods. Whether through donation, material recycling, or upcycling, the objective is to minimize waste and maximize utility.

Improving fashion customer experience

In the digital age, a great customer experience sets businesses apart. Personal touches like branded packaging and clear communication make a big difference. Loyalty programs and accurate product information also keep customers happy and coming back for more.

  • Personalization

Personal touches, like a handwritten note, can make customers feel valued and appreciated. Radial offers an array of Value Added Services designed to elevate the customer experience. Our services encompass kitting, engraving, steaming garments, managing high-end bespoke luxury outbound orders, and providing special packaging that resembles a beautifully wrapped gift. This includes the addition of ribbons, tissues, and stickers, imparting an extra touch of elegance to each package.

  • Branded Packaging

The unboxing experience can significantly influence a customer’s perception. Beautifully branded and unique custom packaging can leave a lasting impression.

  • Communication Strategies

Keeping the consumer informed at every step, from order confirmation to delivery status, can build trust and reduce anxiety related to online shopping.

  • Loyalty Programs and Exclusive Offers

Businesses can encourage repeat purchases and foster long-term relationships by rewarding customers for their loyalty through exclusive discounts, points systems, or early access to sales.

  • Labeling

Accurate labeling on products, detailing size, care instructions, and fabric information further helps in reducing return rates. 

The importance of expert partnership

Choosing the right 3PL partner or outsourced fulfillment provider is essential to navigate the fast-paced world of ecommerce apparel. Understanding your specific fulfillment needs and addressing them is what differentiates leading apparel fulfillment experts. Collaborating with Radial can have a significant impact on your operations. With our in-depth knowledge and proven practices, we streamline your supply chain, efficiently managing warehousing, inventory, order processing, and returns.

We invite ecommerce retailers to reach out to our team of experts to discover how you can optimize your apparel fulfillment process. Stay at the forefront of industry advancements and provide your customers with the seamless experience they deserve. Contact us today to unlock the potential of your ecommerce business.

We’ll optimize your apparel fulfillment process.