Shipping Clothing and the Apparel Supply Chain

Textile and clothing industries make up a significant sector of the national economy, which fuel a significant number of retail businesses. From fabric, zippers, and sewing materials to ready-to-wear high fashion products, the textile and fashion industry is crucial for today’s society. Apparel supply chains are complex and usually time-sensitive, requiring plenty of considerations before shipping. Because of the high customer expectations in particularly this field of retail, shipping and logistics play critical roles in customer experience, and, consequently, greatly affect the company’s profit.

Retailers underestimate the role of apparel supply chain and logistics when shipping clothing and other apparel, focusing all their efforts on marketing. However, well-organized operational processes are the cornerstone of any successful business. In the long run, it is also a cost-efficient strategy, because there are fewer errors and disruptions within the supply chain. If your customers will face delays and frustration, it will cost you more than a proper investment in textile logistics.

Textile supply chain process: stages of the apparel supply chain

Like in any other industry, the apparel supply chain follows the organized sequence that kicks off by the core operations of producing items we eventually receive at the delivery. Retailers often underestimate the role of apparel supply chain and logistics when shipping clothing, focusing all their efforts on marketing. However, well-organized operational processes are the cornerstone of a successful business.

In the long run, it is also a cost-efficient strategy, because there are fewer errors and disruptions within the supply chain. If your customers face delays and frustration, it will cost you more than a proper investment in textile logistics. That is why some apparel supply chain stages need to be counted while planning the delivery of clothes.

  1. The designing stage includes creating future clothing patterns based on the company’s target audience and its consumer demand. This stage involves a wide range of planning activities directed to the concepts of fast (designed for one season) and slow (designed for longer periods) fashion.
  2. Materials production implies creating the raw textile materials later used for preparing fabric. The majority of basic manufacturing operations are concentrated at this stage, and it directly affects the quality of a future product. Yet, raw materials production results in a high level of emissions, so nowadays a lot of manufacturers are trying to stick to rather sustainable fabrication strategies.
  3. The apparel production stage is aimed at successful blending of two previous stages, which means embodying fashion designs using the received fabric. This is when the actual clothes arise and get ready to reach both real and online stores’ shelves.
  4. Distribution. After clothing units are produced, they relocate to the retailers’ warehouses or other spaces where apparel is stored for distribution. The process of relocating clothing production is the most important stage of apparel logistics.
  5. The purchase stage is when the product finally reaches its buyer. This stage reveals whether the shipping strategy has been thought-out and successful. The good condition and original functionality of the apparel units are the main signs of a well-organized delivery.

How does bulk apparel shipping work? How to ship clothes?

Apparel retailers need qualified assistance in arranging and maintaining the best shipping practices for the fashion supply chain. Considering the complexity of apparel logistics and textile supply chains, and the numerous processes involved in the transportation and logistics machine, partnering with an experienced textile logistics provider is crucial.

Packaging

In the fashion and clothing industry, packing orders is a big deal. Retailers try their best to outstand the competitors, and fancy packaging is right off the alley for that purpose. However, in global shipping, there is another approach to packaging that should be applied. To deliver packages safely and in perfect condition, retailers should pay close attention to packaging.

Inventory and fulfillment

To avoid any bottlenecks in logistics operations, it’s important to make sure that you have all the needed supplies, materials, or apparel pieces in stock. Keeping your inventory in order helps guarantee proper order fulfillment and higher customer satisfaction. This is why textile logistics is time-critical. The small inconsistency leads to numerous disrupted orders and unsatisfied customers.

Technology

Today, retailers have endless opportunities to acquire new technology. In terms of shipping, there are also applications for managing and tracking shipments, and getting updates. A good textile logistics partner will usually provide an application with everything needed to manage the transportation process.

What is the best way to ship clothes? 

When it comes to choosing the best way of shipping clothes, it is critical to evaluate some key points on which a successful transit depends. First, have a look at the overall quantity of the items you are going to ship and the approximate size that will be needed for locating them. It will allow you to clarify what type of transport is the most suitable to move your cargo. Second, estimate the delivery dates to see how fast you are supposed to proceed on the road. Sometimes the apparel shipping gets time-sensible, and numerous delays that occur in the process can seriously affect the supply chain schedule. 
Based on previous considerations, there are two major shipping modes for apparel logistics:

  1. Full truckload service (FTL). If you are meant to ship many clothing items and this must be done within strict deadlines, the best option is to use full truckload mode. Thus, the whole truck will be filled with your products only and they will travel accurately from point A to point B with no additional stops in between.
  2. Less than truckload service (LTL). This shipping mode is suitable in case you are delivering moderate amounts of textiles and apparel pieces. By choosing LTL, you will get a truck space shared with other shippers, and the delivery of the units will be completed step by step depending on the order of the destinations.

How to package clothing before shipping?

In the fashion and clothing industry, packing orders is a big deal. Retailers try their best to outstand the competitors, and fancy packaging is right off the alley for that purpose. However, in global shipping, there is another approach to packaging that should be applied in accordance with all the regulations and labeling requirements. To deliver clothes safely and in perfect condition, retailers should pay close attention to the packaging methods they choose.

Before you start packaging your apparel units, make sure they are in a good state and do not contain any foreign components or unusual smells. This will guarantee the preservation of the fashion products’ original appearance after being unpacked after delivery. If there are some additional details included with the clothes, do not exclude them from your packaging.

Clothing packaging bags 

Nowadays, clothing packaging bags have been the most popular option for shipping apparel for several reasons. First, bags are most cost-effective as they require fewer materials to be produced compared to regular boxes or other bigger packages. Second, packaging bags need less room inside the truck so you can take maximum advantage of the trailer’s space and thus do not overpay. Third, a huge part of clothing packaging bags is made of recyclable materials. Lately, a lot of retail representatives have switched to applying sustainable packaging that is both eco-friendly and cost-efficient. If you are interested in optimizing the shipping prices, you might consider recyclable packaging, too.

There are two prevalent options of clothing packaging bags you can pick from. Paper mailing bags for clothes are easy to operate while packing as they adapt to the form of the apparel item and provide the necessary protection. You can fold them however needed and condense them according to the accessible space. Poly mailers perform the same functions and differ by the transparent matters they are made of. If for some reason you want to preserve the visibility of the apparel cargo, this option might be suitable for you. Besides, both paper and poly mailing bags are available in compostable versions.

If you have received apparel products with some disassembled additional parts, or multi-component accessories, it will be safe-wise to enclose them in bubble wrap or any other type of soft fillers.

Clothing packaging boxes

In the case your shipment is supposed to take a longer time, it is worth thinking about applying boxes for packing clothing pieces. They will protect the wearing pieces better in terms of extended apparel logistics operations and increase customer experience by the better product representation. Sometimes the ordered apparel samples arrive already packed into the manufacturer’s brand box, so there’s no need to apply another container. However, if you are concerned about the risk of damaging the brand packaging, you may try the method of double-boxing, where the primary packaging is stuffed into the bigger one along with void fillers (wrapping matters, peanuts, folded papers, etc.)

Boxes also are a good choice for retailers planning bulk apparel shipping as it is more reliable to concentrate big amounts of clothes inside crates. In modern apparel logistics, you can easily find options of sustainable boxes that are firmer and will serve you for several shipments. After locating clothes in boxes, complete the packing by taping them. You may additionally consider palletizing for stronger fixation of the crates in the truck.

Labeling compliance

During managing the clothes packaging activities, it is crucial to take care of proper labeling. This question gets even more critical if you are preparing for an international apparel shipment as the state instances closely control import and export operations.

According to the U. S. Labeling Requirements, all textiles’ and apparel items’ labels must contain data about the country of origin, fiber content, manufacturer’s identification details, and instructions for care. An absent or damaged label can negatively impact the receiver’s impression and even make them refuse the order. That is why it is better to check the labels’ evidence in the process of packing.

Brand recognition

Along with the generally required apparel labels, it is principal to keep all the brand tags of the clothing piece. Brand recognition is one of the major factors encouraging people to consume various apparel items, especially when it comes to the products of famous fashion designers. Therefore, your goal is to deliver clothes with all the brand labels that have been attached to them. It also refers to the brand packaging, so if there was one, try to prevent it from deformation as much as possible.

How much does it cost to ship clothes?

After completing the packaging of your apparel cargo, you will be able to evaluate its general size and weight. This data is crucial in shipping prices formation as it gives you a prompt to make the right choice of shipping mode and type of vehicle. Full truckload and less than truckload services differ in price because of their shipping strategy, so pay close attention to how strict the terms of delivery are in your case.

Moreover, do not forget to count packaging expenses that usually depend on the materials that have been used to pack your items. Besides, the costs of the textile and apparel supply chain are based on the distance you are supposed to cover. Knowing the transit mileage also allows you to work out the fuel expenses.

The best way to calculate wholesale clothing shipping costs is to fill in shipment information and compare quotes. With GoShip, you can compare quotes from multiple carriers in real-time and arrange apparel logistics properly.

How long does it take to ship clothes?

The duration of your textile and apparel supply chain primarily relies on the distance of delivery. If you are transporting apparel to remote states, or shipping internationally, this will take comparatively longer. Besides, there are a few more factors that contribute to the clothing supply chain terms. For example, it is recommended to take into account the seasonality that significantly impacts the fabric supply chain.

The volume of clothes purchases tends to grow along with preparation for the upcoming fashion seasons as the apparel manufactures and designers create new popular clothing samples and launch large-scale marketing campaigns. Additionally, fashion retail is rapidly gaining momentum closer to the holiday seasons when a lot of clothing pieces are shipped as presents. In terms of peak season and holidays period, traffic might be quite tough, so it is better to get ready in advance. It is also worth counting weather conditions that sometimes affect the apparel shipping flow.

What is the cheapest way to ship clothes internationally?

Textile and apparel supply chain may seem challenging when it comes to international shipping. To organize this process properly and avoid possible risks, we recommend you generate an efficient strategy that consists of the following key points.

  1. First of all, you need to gather all the necessary information for the international clothes shipments. This primarily includes determining the destination country. Depending on it, you’ll see if there is an opportunity to ship apparel according to the free trade agreements (FTA). In case you are planning to ship fabric and fashion pieces to the countries without FTA, this will require delving into special regulations and exploring taxes rates.

    Although clothes do not usually evolve restrictions for being shipped internationally, it is better to make sure your cargo is eligible for import operations. Taxes size for international apparel logistics is formed by the actual value and type of your items, as well as the destination place. You can try calculating the approximate size of taxes here.
  2. Typically, international clothes shipping is based on leading special paperwork that you may not be familiar with. It can also vary depending on the target country of transportation. That is why it is critical to address customs brokers who will help you with collecting the necessary documentation and guide you through international labeling regulations.
  3. Shipment tracking is an integral part of a successful international shipment. Keeping an eye on the movement of your cargo will allow you to stick to delivery terms and avoid risks of the loss or misplacement of the items. Additionally, providing tracking options notably enhances shippers’ reliability and improves the customer experience.

Fabric and Apparel Shipping Services with GoShip

The best way to calculate wholesale clothing shipping costs is to fill in shipment information and compare quotes. With GoShip, you can compare quotes from multiple carriers in real-time and arrange apparel logistics properly.

  • Instant and free freight quotes
  • Full truckload and less-than-truckload shipping services
  • Low freight rates
  • 24/7 shipment tracking
  • A self-service platform for online shipment booking