Industry Insights From Renewal Logistics:

Fashion Focused 3PL Expert for Apparel, Footwear and Accessories Brands

Renewal Logistics is your full service e-commerce fulfillment solution. We are experts at supporting fashion brands with all of their logistics needs. Whether you need DTC fulfillment, B2B fulfillment, returns management, product refurbishment or any project in between we can help keep your business on track and solutions to help scale your operations. 

Why exactly do fashion brands need to work with the right 3PL partner?

1. SO MANY SKUs! – Apparel means variations in style, size and color just to name a few.

Most fulfillment and distribution operations have a simplified WMS that works great for most product categories such as Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), or pallet in pallet out inventory, where there are only a handful of products and SKUs. An average 3PL works with CPG brands and has systems in place to handle smaller SKU counts for clients, many often avoid apparel or other brands with high SKU counts due to the complexity required or changes they would need to make on their end. 

For apparel brands every for 1 design there is usually a size range of 8-14 different variants. When you add in different colors or patterns that can mean that for every 1 style, the variations require 30-40 different SKUs!

Most apparel companies have a few lines per year, and each collection may have as many as 25-45 new items. At 25 items, this means there may be an average of 750 SKUs for just 1 season.

The sheer amount of products makes strategic fulfillment prep and planning a top priority. Apparel items are often stored folded in a polybag. Everything looks the same in these pages with the only easily defining feature is the color or pattern. The workers we employ must have an extremely attentive eye for detail to ensure products are moved and packed correctly. Every item also has a rack location, and a SKU barcode, that must be scanned to confirm the order is correct but with apparel products the likeness of a packing error is much higher then with other products. 

For example, the size and shape of the packaging from an eye cream to a lipstick is different enough where it’s easy to quickly tell if there’s an issue. This is not the case with apparel. This is why so many brands who go with inexperienced 3PLs that don’t specialize in apparel have so many mis-shipments. The inventory control with fashion brands is simply more complex.

2. Value Added Services Helping to Optimize Your Brand’s Potential

We work with the top retailers on a daily basis. Because of this our team knows the ins and outs of compliance requirements and also unique opportunities.

For Example: Costco likes to have products arrive on Chep pallets, prepared in a specific way so that an associate can roll a pallet of product right off of the back of a truck, place it on the warehouse floor, cut off the shrink wrap, and the product is ready to sell.

For this program, the product arrives to us in single SKU cases. Our team then opens the cases, sort the goods into multi-SKU packs, repacks these multi-SKU prepacks into new cases with a certain presentation that is appealing to shoppers, label the cases, and repalletize the cases according to Costco’s specifications. If we do this incorrectly, our customer will be fined or charged back a minimum of $3,000 per truckload for non compliance. 

We do programs like these for clients that sell into Costco, Sam’s, BJ’s, and more. And we do millions of these pallets a year.

There are so many opportunities to sell apparel in creative ways if you have the resources to package goods dynamically at scale.

3. Returns & Recirculation Management

The return rate can range from 20-50% for the fashion industry as opposed to other consumer products. The specific challenge with this is that most items that are returned have been tried on by a customer. This often leads to deodorant removal needs, odor removal needs, refurbishment, refolding, and replacement of brand tags or price tags. At minimum, every item that comes from a return will likely need to be refolded and placed in a new polybag, with a new UPC bag tag.

The try on process can be extremely damaging to clothing and can result in a high number of items that can’t be resold as new. This is especially true if a brand is using a 3PL for returns management or reverse logistics that does not have cleaning or refurbishment resources.

At Renewal Logistics we have an 85,000 sq.ft. apparel cleaning facility. This facility includes equipment for wet cleaning, dry cleaning, steam cleaning, steam tunnel, pressing, spot cleaning, and alterations. 

Many brands think that any cleaning will deem the product second quality, however that is not the case. Almost every item that comes into the US from a factory was cleaned prior to arriving in the US. Re-cleaning is not the limiting factor. The limiting factor is usually the damage that can occur to the tags and trim items in the removal/replacement process, and if you’re dealing with Renewal Logistics, we have specific ways to accomplish this without any damage.

We are able to remove the brand tags, trim, and price tags, clean the items, and replace those brand tags and price tags. Then the items are pressed and folded so that they are factory fresh again and ready to re-enter your available inventory.

Due to our vast apparel restoration and cleaning resources, Renewal Logistics is specially prepared to help brands set up and manage re-commerce programs, which are also known as sustainability or circularity programs. We are able to help brands catalog gently used items, by item type, value, degree of damage, location of damage, and gender. Renewal Logistics can also load these items into the re-commerce platform of our client’s choice to then sell these items to their loyal customers who appreciate the brand’s mindfulness and desire to treat the planet responsibly.

4. GOH (Garment on Hanger)

Renewal Logistics is also capable of managing products that arrive GOH, or Garment On Hanger. For most apparel brands, there is a need for an omnichannel approach. Goods need to arrive from the factories into the US in 2 ways, prepared to go directly into a retail store, so, on a hanger, as well as packaged for e-commerce fulfillment. Products that go into a brick and mortar store will need to be displayed on a hanger. Products that are sold through e-commerce will need to be taken off a hanger and folded in such a way to minimize its size to ship as inexpensively as possible.

For most companies it is often impossible to forecast which product will sell best in a store versus online. Most brands will have over half of their goods arrive in the US already on hangers so that if they have to convert the goods to sell via e-commerce, that process is easier than converting folded goods to hanging, because that often requires an added step of steaming. The process of putting an item on a hanger also takes longer than taking an item off of a hanger and folding. Companies strategically plan for the factory, which has much more affordable labor rates, do that process before it makes the trip to the US.

Once brands know what sells best through which channel, there is usually a conversion process to optimize their sales. The goods that aren’t selling as fast in the stores are then converted to e-commerce packaging, and then those goods are shipped out, either in bulk to a retailer, or drop shipped B2C on a retailer’s behalf. 

This conversion process requires a lot of labor, but only for a short time. Today there may be 20,000 orders that need to ship, tomorrow there may only be a few hundred. Product ships to retailers in waves. It is helpful for wholesalers to have partners who can manage Value Added Services at scale in order to supplement their full time labor, in order to complete these projects that involve so much variance.

5. Secure Work Force

Most distribution centers would say their temporary labor needs are a pain point, and are often a constraint to growth. This is because they are relying on recruiting services and staffing services to find and bring in a bench of workers from one day to the next. I could tell you so many stories about how frustrating this process is, but I’ll just keep it to two examples today.

  1. You call a staffing company and ask for 35 workers. They assure you they’ll have 35 workers for you tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and only 15 show up. So now, you are faced with with choices to make:

A – Adding more workers to your second or third shifts, which means your manager to worker ratio is going to be sub-optimal. This often means the quality and efficiency are probably going to be incorrect or “off”.

B – You have to push out your ship deadline, causing delays to your clients and resulting in unhappy customers.

  1. Another common frustration I hear is that clients will have a new staffing agency come to call, and they agree to do business together. The client orders 35 workers, and like magic, 35 workers appear the next day. The client is so happy! And this continues like clockwork for about a month. Then, the staffing agency finds a new client they want to impress and signs a new deal. All of a sudden the 35 great workers that were showing up like clockwork and doing a great job are now assigned to the new client so that the new client has an impressive experience with the staffing agency. And all of a sudden, client #1 is second fiddle and is only getting a partial fill for an order of people, and they’re not the best people.

With Renewal Logistics, we eliminate the staffing agencies from the equation. We’re responsible for bringing the bench of workers. We have 2,000 workers in our database that we rank as A, B C, or D players, and this is based on their attendance, behavior, work quality, and speed. 

Each day, our clients decide instead of using staffing agencies and managing to prep and fulfillment in-house, they instead send goods to our facility, and our workers handle the fulfillment process for the clients. 

Trucks of our clients products arrive at 7 am each day, and we handle the goods and either ship the goods out from our DC for the client by 4pm, or send the goods back to the client’s DC by 5pm to be further handled for shipping on their terms. 

We were able to eliminate a huge pain point for our clients by simply bypassing the normal in-house process temporarily. 

This is a service we of course provide to clients who use us for all of their warehousing and fulfillment needs. But this is also a service we can provide to clients who have their own distribution centers, who don’t want to lose efficiencies by managing aspects of the wholesale prep process in house. 

Working with an experienced fashion based 3PL is a key to success for brands looking to scale and grow to offer multi-channel fulfillment. Picking the wrong 3PL partner can cause brands to pay as they go while their provider is learning on the fly based on their needs. The right 3PL partner will be an expert to guide your brand through the right processes and channels while maintaining brand integrity and working to optimize the brand’s reputation with retailers and customers. 

Ready to take your fashion brand to the next level? Contact Renewal Logistics today to learn how our fulfillment solution services can help optimize your supply chain.

Looking For More?

If you ever want to chat with our existing clients, many of them we have NDAs with, so I can’t share their names on the website or in our newsletter, but I assure you, you’ve purchased product from them,  and if you want to verify our consistency, accuracy, and ability to handle complexity with ease, they’ll be happy to talk to you.

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