By Gregor Baumeister
Are you struggling with today’s fashion e-commerce revolution? The ever-increasing service level requirements, unpredictable delivery demands, mounting order volumes, variation in items and the nightmare of handling returns?
The drive for omnichannel sales in the fashion logistics industry
The retail industry has undergone a dramatic change over the last 20 years with online retail continuing to rise. And the global pandemic pressed the fast-forward button on the trend, causing a major disruption of retail sales channels. In 2020, online retail volumes increased by 14 percent from the previous year, suddenly propelling the industry into an unexpected place.
While this rapid growth in e-commerce is not expected to stay at 2020’s high, it is expected to stay at significantly higher numbers than 2019.
As such, it has become critical for fashion logistics companies to integrate omnichannel into their operations.
Challenges in supporting omnichannel operation
But supporting omnichannel distribution is not always easy. Logistics providers now face a whole new set of order fulfilment demands which impact directly on how they operate:
- Changes in consumer behaviour and demands: Fulfilment facilities are becoming ‘shops’ with consumers buying items to try on and return, expecting same-day or overnight delivery and beautiful packaging.
- B2B vs B2C demands: B2B and B2C orders are structured differently in terms of the number of order lines and pieces per order, resulting in different fulfilment, packing and delivery requirements for the fulfilment facility.
- Volatility in demand: Volatility in online sales creates resource challenges for fulfilment facilities, backlogs or “peak” overperformance. These changing order structures can negatively impact goods-to-person picking systems not designed to handle varying orders.
- Returns handling: Returns are expensive to handle, requiring intensive quality checks, relabelling and repacking and must be made available for resale quickly to prevent revenue loss.
So how can fashion distribution facilities deal with the challenges of omnichannel order fulfilment effectively?