Textile e-commerce: how to perfectly handle clothes and accessories storage?

According to a study by Fevad, in 2019 the sale of textiles on the internet grew by more than 5.7% compared to the previous year.More and more consumers are making their purchases of clothing and accessories on the web, which makes this market particularly attractive for e-traders. On the other hand, as with any product, the storage of textiles is special and can be complicated due to the sensitivity of certain materials. There are many factors to consider when choosing a warehouse or logistics provider to work with, including conservation, stock entries and exits, and storage methods. Questions that should not be taken lightly!

Julie Ribeiro
Created
August 7, 2020
Modified
April 8, 2021

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Efficient storage of technical textile products

While in-store sales are falling by 1 to 3% in the textile sector, the opposite is true for distance selling. Indeed, nearly 40% of French people bought clothes online during the 1st quarter of 2019.

Fashion e-commerce brands, unlike other sectors, have to manage product seasonality, changing trends, etc. All of this has a significant impact on the storage of clothing and accessories. Focus on this issue of the fashion supply chain! 

Clothing storage for a web shop: different from a traditional business? 

Storing textiles involves selecting the right storage method according to the constraints imposed by the nature of the garment.

The different storage techniques in the clothing industry

As with any product, there are different ways of storing within the warehouse depending on the nature of the accessories and their category. 

The storage of sensitive garments with an easily wrinkled material often involves suspension of the product. Whether on specific racks or simply on hangers, this category of ready-to-wear requires special management in order to avoid damaging the garments before they are sent off.For example, if you are selling a duck blue V-neck shirt, it will probably fit best on a hanger.

On the contrary, to store less sensitive garments (which can therefore be folded, such as cotton t-shirts), you can combine the hanging garment technique with shelf storage. Simply fold and flatten the products and classify them according to their nature. This e-commerce storage solution saves a certain amount of space in the warehouse and allows you to handle a fairly large number of orders per day. It is frequently used for clothes that are not fragile, but also for shoes and accessories.

In all cases, the use of dynamic racks allows you to store and select your products more efficiently.

Bigblue tips : When choosing a logistician or warehouse to work with, it is important to look for a suitable infrastructure for textile storage. Make sure you ask yourself: does the warehouse have mechanized hanger racks or structures for overhead storage?

Constraints related to the textile sector

As an e-merchant in the fashion industry, the choice of storage method is not always yours. The selection of a warehouse or logistics provider is therefore not only up to you, but also and above all depends on the nature of the products.

For example, more and more luxury clothes and accessories are being sold and bought on the internet. Nearly 57% of luxury customers make their orders on the internet, which is leading to strong growth in the haute-couture market. The problem is that luxury products do not cost the same as mid and low-end products. The risk of theft is therefore much higher. For example, if your duck blue shirt is made of pure linen, it might be better to store it in the middle of the warehouse or in more secure places. At Bigblue, we take the preservation of your high value products to heart by providing secure boxes for you to use.

Beyond the fraudulent risks associated with storage, clothing has other particularities. Unlike cosmetics, they must be sorted by size in order to keep a clear view of the state of your stocks. If you choose to work with a warehouse, it is impossible to make a mistake: each size is identified by a SKU (stock keeping unit, which represents products or product categories). For example, a SKU is used as identification for your blue duck shirt in size 38. Easier to prepare your orders and follow your stocks in realtime!

Bigblue Tips: If you are in need of storage, it is better to create a specific SKU for each color and size, to make it easier to identify the product. This avoids mistakes when preparing orders and greatly reduces the risk of returns or exchanges. In a simpler way, you can get rid of this responsibility by delegating storage to a logistician. Logisticians, like Bigblue, can take care of the organization and storage of your products. That way, you can concentrate solely on sales and marketing!

Inventory management, the fundamentals of internet commerce

Beyond the pure and hard storage of your products, you must also think about stock management. This can quickly become complicated in the fashion industry due to changing demands and seasons. It is therefore more prudent to define the supply thresholds and quantities to be acquired as your business evolves.

Keeping up to date in the textile industry 

Right now, fast fashion is all the rage. Large retailers such as Zara and H&M take an average of 15 days to create a new product, belonging to a new fashion. Consequently, fashions and trends change very quickly.

As e-merchants, it is therefore important to make a balance so as not to produce too many clothes at the risk of ending up with a"dead" stock of obsolete items on your hands.

Bigblue Tips: As an e-merchant in the fashion industry, it's important to plan and anticipate your stocks and orders to acquire the right products in the right quantities. You then have the choice between taking an empirical view (based on factual data, sales figures of the products you like most) or a forward-looking view (factual and taking into account forecasts related to economic circumstances and demand trends). It's up to you to choose the one that suits you best!

Avoid stock-outs for your e-business

As an e-commerce shop that manages its own stock, you may find yourself faced with a stock shortage. This phenomenon is linked to a data gap between the virtual and physical stock, an erroneous estimation of orders, loss of products, etc.

So, if your blue duck shirt is a huge success as summer approaches and you don't take the necessary steps to cope with the demand, you may run out of stock. And an out-of-stock situation in times of high demand can have a big impact on your sales.

You can't control your supplier's production, but you can plan surplus stocks to offset the ups and downs of sales and product releases. Again, it all depends on the garment you want to sell, and the customer reaction!

Bigblue Tips: To avoid any risk of stock shortages, you can set up stock alerts to keep an eye on quantities in real time, and even create automatic restocking.

By doing so, you avoid having to go out and check the stock situation every morning. Many software programs exist and some of them automatically trigger a new order as soon as a minimum threshold is reached:this is the point-of-order method.

Distribute products and inventory across all your point of sale channels

If you manage an omni-channel brand (combining in-store sales and an e-commerce platform), stock management can be optimized.For example, analyzing your consumers' behavior can help you determine whether your duck blue V-neck shirt is selling more in-store or on the internet.

By studying these statistics, you can adapt your purchases and your stock distribution according to the most advantageous distribution channels. 

Bigblue Tips: As an e-commerce brand, analyzing your sales and internal data is an open door to economic growth and an optimal customer experience. And this optimization is achieved by allocating the stock of your products in your shops or warehouses more efficiently

Commercial management of returns 

The stock of clothes and accessories is not only done before the preparation and sending of orders. As an e-merchant, it is also important to think about returns and their management.  

Whatever the reason for the return (size, defect, etc.) it is essential to set up an entire returns management process. From checking the condition of the product to the return of defective clothing(recycling, donation, etc.) to standard returns... The entire returns policy must be studied!

Let's imagine the hypothesis in which one of your customers buys the duck blue shirt on your internet sales site. Depending on whether its seams are fragile, or the size does not match, the return address will not be the same. For the sake of transparency and to avoid unnecessary logistics, it is important to clearly communicate your return policy.

You can use software (ERP or WMS) that manages all returns and product returns internally. In all cases, returns and exchanges must be easy and fast so as not to disappoint the customer and avoid wasting precious time. This is called reverse logistics.

Bigblue Tips: To avoid any misunderstandings, we advise you to setup a very precise charter for the verification process of returned products.Make sure you communicate effectively about your return policy to inform your customers as well as possible (for example, about return times and refund deadlines).

Reverse logistics is a crucial step in the supply chain: some practices are far preferable to others and can make a difference to your reputation. Think about it!

Internet sales of textile materials: product storage, a cornerstone of e-commerce 

In the textile and clothing sector, digitization is becoming increasingly widespread. Consumers now tend to order their clothes and accessories over the internet rather than going to a store. 

As a result, the number of fashionable e-commerce brands is increasing and the demands on logistics, especially storage, are becoming more and more pressing.

Warehousing in the textile sector obviously involves selecting the right way to store products when preparing orders according to their nature. But storage does not stop there!

As an e-merchant in the ready-to-wear sector, it is important to study the best techniques to limit errors and increase stock visibility: dynamic racks, creation of SKUs, etc. And above all, we must not neglect the storage of returned products. From the management of unsold goods to the repair or distribution of defective products in outlets, a whole range of options is available to you.

Think about your entire storage process in order to promote the conservation of your products and the satisfaction of your customers!

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