Sapphire’s Paul Rogers looks at how technology is the key to best practice for apparel labelling and packaging
When it comes to fashion, presentation is everything, even in terms of packaging and labelling. There are no exceptions to this rule, with fashion businesses striving to package and label garments in the best, most efficient and most cost-effective ways possible. With an almost limitless amount of style, colour and size combinations, to achieve packaging and labelling excellence at point of manufacture, more and more fashion businesses are turning to intuitive business systems, automating certain functions and processes, to not only optimise operations but to maximise customer satisfaction.
Managing relationships with multiple customers and logistics partners is one of the most challenging aspects of running a fashion business. Keeping track of who wants what, in what size, in what style, in what colour and when is complicated enough without taking into account the different styles of packaging and labelling that customers require.
For example, you might have single piece packing, where single garments are packed into poly bags or boxes, or you might have solid packing, where multiple garments of the same colour and size are packed in single box. Then there’s the issue of ration packing, where a single box might contain garments of the same colour but in various sizes, with quantities of each size dependent on the specific needs of a particular customer. You also have the question of to fold, or not to fold, with some retailers requiring individual garments to be folded and packaged separately or, at the other end of the spectrum, garments aren’t to be folded at all but placed directly into cartons ready to be placed upon hangers at their eventual point of sale.
What is evident is the need for an integrated, end-to-end solution to ensure easy, fast access to all product lifecycle management (PLM), sales and financial information, guaranteeing that not only do customers get what they want, how they want it, but that the entire process is managed in both a time and cost effective manner. The complexities involved mean it’s a necessity to unify the entire product process right through from design and concept, to delivery of the final products, in order to accurately fulfil orders every time and to also vastly improve forecasting across the business.
A solution’s ability to integrate with barcode scanning technology also provides major efficiency savings alongside increased accuracy. Automated data collection eradicates the inevitable errors made when rekeying information manually, helps mitigate against the risk of misplaced or lost products and orders, and optimises the general picking and packing process. At the same time, it frees up staff time for more value-add activities, as well as providing decision-makers with access to accurate, real time information to underpin strategy and inform business forecasts.
Boosting Customer Satisfaction
With the right system in place, orders are fulfilled faster and more accurately, regardless of complexity, boosting customer satisfaction levels considerably. And, the beauty of a solution which integrates with your finance function is that it enables the easier monitoring of costs, highlighting where further efficiencies can be made and simplifying the often difficult task of forecasting costs before they occur.
For savvy fashion businesses, it really should be a case of substance over style when it comes to managing the packaging process. By making the right technology investments now, organisations operating in the world of fashion can guarantee accuracy and efficiency as standard, resulting in happier customers with the added bonus of a healthier bottom line.
What to look for in a solution for your fashion business:
- You need a solution designed for the specific nuances of the fashion industry. Don’t try and shoehorn your business into a solution that’s meant for an entirely different sector.
- Experience is key. Work with a partner who has a track record of successful system implementation in the fashion industry.
- What are the most pressing issues you need to address? Prioritise what’s most important for your business rather than trying to fix everything at once.
- Who’s going to be using the system? Early user buy-in is a big advantage if you want to optimise the success of any new solution
- Ease of use is a must. You don’t want to add another level of complexity to an already complicated industry.