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Apparel Fulfillment Services

AMS Is Dressed for Success in the World of Fashion & Apparel!

What Goes Into Fashion and Apparel Industry Fulfillment?

Fashion trends and tastes change quickly. With high SKU counts, SKU change-outs, short product lifecycles, and high return rates, apparel order fulfillment is complex and labor-intensive. It also involves abrupt spikes in orders all while managing multiple selling channels.

When you consider the last process step – returns management – the apparel fulfillment process is more complicated than other industries.

How to Find a Fashion Fulfillment 3PL?

When outsourcing apparel fulfillment, there are several factors to consider when choosing an apparel 3PL.

1. Short Product Lifecycle/Inventory Management

With short product lifecycles, poor inventory management can be an apparel brand killer. Fashion and styles change quickly, and merchants can be left with out-of-season apparel that loses value and costs money to store. 

Proper SKU management is necessary so brands and merchants can keep inventory levels lean. SKU-level activity reporting from a state-of-the-art warehouse management system like WAMS (AMS Warehouse Management System) can proactively help clothing brands identify slow-moving inventory. This allows the brands to manage their inventory, and identify when “clearance sales” are needed, or if the product needs to be donated. This active inventory management will help apparel fulfillment companies keep their optimal picking plan up to date and enable efficient picking.

Apparel brands have several seasonal surges in order volume a year. Fashion changes throughout the year based on seasonal weather changes as well as “seasons” such as prom, weddings, and back to school. Being able to scale fulfillment capacity at these times is crucially important. 

It’s important to work closely with an experienced fulfillment company like AMS Fulfillment to be prepared for seasonal or promotional marketing events through constant communication, forecasting, and planning. With AMS as your operational fulfillment partner, apparel brand and merchants will see improvements in order cycle time, order accuracy, and return management. 

2. High SKU Count 

For apparel companies, keeping track of tens of thousands of SKUs requires robust and user-friendly technology. AMS fulfillment management software allows merchants to seamlessly add SKUs, create bundles, manage inventory levels, and much more.  

Choosing a clothing fulfillment partner when you have a high SKU count requires a significant amount of research. Apparel companies have unique requirements and going with an inexperienced 3PL can be costly. There are numerous factors to consider when you have high SKU counts: 

  • Communication
    • An experienced 3PL like AMS will “over-communicate”. From the initial sales phone call to client service calls, communication is integral to a mutually beneficial partnership.
  • Lengthy and data-driven onboarding process
    • The more information gathered during the onboarding process, the more successful and seamless it is. 
  • Technology
    • Integrations are vital to an apparel fulfillment company’s success. Merchants need to ensure they easily integrate with the 3PL and reporting systems are cutting-edge. Integrations can include SKU status information for core items vs seasonal vs discontinued.
  • Automation
    • A superior 3PL will have automation that specifically streamlines the pick-pack process for high SKU count. 
  • Warehouse space and layout flexibility
    • Experienced apparel 3PLs can customize their layout structure. This flexibility can help with seasonal spikes by locating products in a pattern that optimizes the pick & pack fulfillment process for both eCommerce and B2B channels, thereby shortening the time needed to process orders. AMS has mastered the different setups and services required for these markets. We manage our inventory to meet the intricacies and seasonality of the fashion industry. 
  • Experience
    • For companies with high SKU counts, experience matters. Be wary of going with an order fulfillment provider that does not have extensive experience handling high SKU counts or proven technology. Inexperience can lead is SKU mismanagement and increased pick-pack times, resulting in disgruntled consumers.

3. Omnichannel Fulfillment (eCom + B2B)

The old marketing adage “be where your consumers are” is vital to the apparel industry. Consumers today are shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, online and mobile, and even on social platforms. An apparel company needs to have a presence in all locations to maximize sales. 

Omni-channel fulfillment in the fashion industry is the management of all channels to create a seamless, consistent, and brand-focused consumer experience. Partnering with an apparel fulfillment 3PL like AMS is integral to a successful omnichannel strategy. AMS handles B2B, B2C (DTC), and social orders. When vetting a fulfillment partner, ensure that B2B orders can be handled efficiently and easily as many 3PLs put limits on B2B orders.

4. EDI Routing Compliance

An apparel 3PLs Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) compliance is necessary for the fashion industry to remain competitive while lowering overhead costs. Nearly all big fashion retailers require suppliers to be EDI compliant – so if you are shipping B2B orders, EDI routing compliance is mandatory. 

EDI requirements for the fashion industry include routing compliance, Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs), GS1/UCC label creation (and proper placement), and often specific packing requirements that are unique to various apparel retailers. 

AMS Fulfillment has EDI capabilities, routing expertise, and effectively manages B2B orders. Outsourcing your B2B apparel fulfillment to AMS will decrease turnaround time, lower transaction costs, eliminate retailer chargebacks, and lower overhead costs.

With over 20 years of experience handling apparel fulfillment, AMS not only handles the most common VAS, but we also handle garment-on-hanger (GOH) shipping, label changes, and gift wrapping.

6. Scalability to Handle Volume Spikes

The term “Black Friday” originally meant the time when a merchant went from being “in the red” to being “in the black”, referring to the company’s positive profit. It is crucial for clothing merchants to be partnered with the right apparel 3PL or those expected profits will not materialize. 

A clothing 3PL will need to scale to your sales cycles and needs. AMS Fulfillment knows the ins and outs of peak season fulfillment and has systems in place to ensure that your order fulfillment needs during this season are processed quickly and accurately.

Our technology and automation allow us to quickly ramp up services, without sacrificing accuracy.  So, go ahead and do some influencer marketing – AMS has your back!

7. Intricate Returns Management/QC

Apparel brands have one of the highest return rates – 16.6% according to the National Retail Federation. That is a staggering $761 billion of merchandise that will be back on the shelves. 

Whether returns are from poor fit to damaged product to simply not liking the item, consumers have been enjoying the ease and convenience of free return shipping. It is more important than ever to manage the reverse logistics side of your clothing fulfillment to preserve and recover margin dollars. Having the ability to efficiently inspect, re-condition, and restock saleable items into your inventory, while also providing a frictionless customer experience, is essential.

AMS Fulfillment is equipped to handle returns. AMS will minimize the costs associated with your returns and quickly get inventory back onto the shelves

8. Inbound Receiving/QC

Expert apparel fulfillment companies have mastered the inbound receiving process. They understand that a flawless inbound process will ensure a flawless outbound process. AMS has strict processes and controls for inbound receiving, which leads to industry-leading inventory accuracy, order accuracy, and order processing. 

9. Quality Pack-Out (eCom + B2B)

One of the most important steps in the fulfillment process is pack-out – the packing and shipping stage for packages and pallets. The pack-out process is crucial, as it’s the final opportunity to perform quality assurance and control checks to ensure your orders have the right product and the right labels and inserts. For B2B apparel orders, this includes ensuring everything is correct with routing compliance, GS1/UCC label placement, packing specifications, accuracy by carton, and VAS/labeling requirements.

At AMS Fulfillment, we diligently perform quality control measures to verify all orders. 

10. Sustainability

It’s no longer a question of whether there is climate change, it’s a question of how we stop it. 

As an industry, the supply chain/logistics is one of the most polluting industries. Everything from the manufacturing process to the end of product life with the consumer impacts the environment negatively.

AMS is a Certified B Corp – we believe in sustainability – we live it every day. Our facilities implement sustainable practices as much as possible. Our standard packaging options are 100% eco-friendly.  Every aspect of our warehouse operations is optimized for sustainability. 

If you are looking for an apparel 3PL partner that values sustainability, AMS is it!

AMS Fulfillment Never Goes Out of Fashion

Let AMS be your apparel fulfillment center. We have experience fulfilling orders to department store retailers, boutiques, online/direct eCommerce orders, and everything in between. Our B2B and B2C capabilities let us handle large volumes. After 20 years, we know apparel fulfillment inside and out, including quick turnaround times, seasonality, and retail’s unique value-added requirements.

As your apparel fulfillment services partner, we help with:

  • Quality inspections of product: Our services include making sure you send your customers only the best.
  • Tagging, custom bagging, and more: Let us handle any packaging or tags that display your branding for potential customers to see.
  • Returns inspection and refurbishment: Our experienced pros can give any returned merchandise a complete once-over, so you don’t lose any revenue opportunities.
  • Re-folding and re-bagging: Our apparel fulfillment services can make returned items look like new once again.
  • We know how to handle constant SKU changes, high SKU counts, spikes in SKU counts, and the short SKU lifecycles in this industry. 
  • Large volume spikes in eCommerce (Black Friday/Cyber Monday), flash sales, and seasonal B2B launches.
  • Thanks to our status as a B Corporation, you also can be sure we’ll always do right by our stakeholders, the community, and the environment.