With the advancement of fast fashion, brands, as well as retailers, are living under constant pressure, being forced to bring products to the market faster. In the old days, there were no more than two collections per year. Now, it’s a completely different story in the sense that new lines are constantly being produced. The moment when the customer goes to the register, takes out their credit/debit card, and leaves with a new acquisition marks the end of the journey of the fashion piece. Transporting a product from factory to store is more important than ever. Consumers’ expectations have changed in terms of choice, cost, and, most importantly, the speed of delivery.
For fashion brands and retailers, it’s of paramount importance to optimize the supply chain. The internationalization of markets has led to increased competition and the digital revolution has required organizations to adjust their structures so as to meet the demands of the new omnichannel environment. Fashion logistics need to be flawless. It’s not viable to handle logistics issues in the same manner as predecessors. The process should be more agile. Managing change isn’t only an integral part of the job, but also a highly difficult task.
At present, companies are dealing with unparalleled obstacles generated by globalization, the hastening of the trend cycle, and, last but not least, the urgent demand for quality and transparency. Brand owners and major retailers have to coordinate various agents and activities. Besides overseeing stores, product manufacturing, and material procurement, they’re required to manage and coordinate relationships with forwarders and third-party logistics providers. Poor communication can lead to discrepancies concerning plans and decisions, not to mention confusion.
Like all industries, fashion is dealing with considerable change in present times. Let’s take a close look at the key logistic challenges facing fashion companies.
These are logistical expenses that many businesses have a blind spot for. Shipping and transportation account for about 30 percent of the overall expenses. Fuel prices continue to rise, so costs won’t go down any time soon. Third-party logistics companies have no power over fuel prices, so it’s not possible to negotiate lower rates. To reduce shipping and transportation costs, it’s a good idea to use different carriers. You should work with specialists that deliver on time and make safe driving a top priority. You can ask for input from your customers via online surveys and testimonials. At the end of the day, they should be buying your goods.
If the store carries too much or too little inventory, there’s the risk of failing to meet customer needs. When you carry too little inventory, you run out of stock immediately. When you carry too much inventory, you accumulate excess stock. Ideally, you should find a balance. Forecasting is nearly impossible because consumer behavior is unpredictable. More exactly, the customer journey isn’t linear. Nobody can accurately predict how many fashion items people will buy in the future. Consumer preferences don’t necessarily translate into consumer behavior. According to science, human preferences are temporary and can easily change.
The number of purchases can be totally different from one day to the other. While predictive analytics can offer a good idea of what the future will look like, nothing is certain. One possible solution to predict purchasing behavior, and the aggression of competitors, is to sell the merchandise in the first week of sales by significantly reducing the original price. It’s better to mark down fashion items sooner than later and take smaller profits. The best sales are the ones finalized online because they’re paid for ahead of time. If the full season has passed, it’s difficult, if not impossible to sell the goods.
Fashion brands and retailers need to let shoppers spruce up their wardrobes at speed so that they can keep up with the latest trends. Having a tight grip on the supply chain is, therefore, important. Implementing automated components is recommended. It makes sense for every business, regardless of size. A quick chat with the teams will clarify if the organization can continue under the current processes. Equally important is to review suppliers, who can increase the speed and effectiveness of the supply chain. It should be a mutually beneficial partnership that doesn’t impact the price or the quality of the service.
Reverse logistics is the opposite of the traditional supply chain. To be more precise, the fashion items move from the end user back to the seller or manufacturer. Shoppers can return items for various reasons, such as inadequate sizing. Customer returns represent a growing problem, leading to excess inventory and lost revenue. The merchandise has to be resold, which takes time away from strategic decisions. Managing reverse logistics in-house isn’t advisable. Outsourcing the task to a company that provides reverse logistics services is preferable. The business partner deals with the high volume of returns, keeping customers happy and contributing to a good reputation.
Brand owners and major retailers have to be ready for varying levels of returns and excess inventory issues. The efficiency with which the demands of customers are met directly impacts the revenue stream. Outsourcing makes sense from a strategic standpoint because it helps minimize loss and maintain customer satisfaction. Sometimes, it’s an inevitable part of the business. Running in-house logistics is costly, eating away time and energy. The management of commerce returns doesn’t risk turning into a problem if it’s professionally managed. Companies in the fashion industry ought to have a logistics operator who is ready to take on the challenge.
Last but not least, there should be a clear return policy in place so that shoppers can return the package they want to return. This builds trust with consumers, not to mention that it entices word-of-mouth recommendations. If customers aren’t offered any type of guarantee, they will undoubtedly avoid buying the product.