Apparel Logistics: Balancing Cost and Customer Service

Managing logistics for an apparel business is a delicate balancing act. In many cases, your profit margins aren’t particularly large, leaving little room for error in your pricing and fulfillment.

These slim margins make it difficult to determine just where you should splurge—and where you should save.

Exceptional Service Makes for Repeat Customers

If there’s any area where you should focus on spending a little bit of extra money, it’s in creating an exceptional customer service experience. Customers have so many choices when it comes to apparel retailers, and if you don’t give them a customer experience they’ll remember positively, they’re sure to go elsewhere the next time they need a new wardrobe staple.

Finding ways to add extra funds to boost the speed of your returns or have extra people answer your customer service emails can go a long way toward giving your customers a positive experience. And this may mean cutting reasonable costs elsewhere in your business so you have the resources to funnel toward your customers.

One way to help cut some of your operational costs down a bit is to partner with an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) company for your warehousing and fulfillment.

Sounds counterintuitive, right? You’re just going to spend a ton of money hiring a 3PL when you could just as easily keep things the way they are for less, right? Not necessarily.

Hiring a 3PL Is Often Cheaper Than Managing It All Yourself

One thing many business owners don’t realize is that hiring someone else to handle some of your tasks, including warehousing products, picking and packing, or returns processing, is likely to save money in the long run. Take shifting your warehousing tasks to a 3PL, for example. Your single fee that’s paid to the 3PL means you’re no longer paying money separately for:

  • Warehouse space
  • Staffing
  • Utilities for the building
  • Maintenance and upkeep
  • Employee benefits
  • Fixtures and equipment for the warehouse
  • Taxes
  • Warehouse management software
  • And more

By partnering with a 3PL, you’re joining a group of small businesses just like yourself, spreading the costs out to make them more manageable for everyone. And the savings you realize by partnering with a 3PL can be spent on the things you need to keep your business growing.

If improving your customer service is one of your big business goals, the money and time you’ve saved with a 3PL could be used to:

  • Hire more customer service reps to answer phones and emails
  • Pay for a higher-tier chatbot on your website to allow customers to ask questions 24/7
  • Improve your website to make items and information easier to find
  • Offer faster shipping so customers get their items more quickly
  • Develop new products

All these little extras really add up when it comes to the experience your customers have with your business, and can earn you loyal customers and fierce advocates of your brand.

Your East Coast Logistics Company

If you’re looking to make your apparel logistics easier on you and your team, trust Cannon Hill Logistics. We have more than 35 years of experience serving small businesses just like yourself, and we’re committed to finding a customized solution to meet your needs. Contact us for a quote!

How to Overcome Supply Chain Disruptions

Disruptions to the supply chain can come in many forms: Natural disasters, transportation issues, cyber attacks, and of course, global pandemics. 

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began, disruption has become the new normal. And with the resulting labor shortage and record-high gas prices, many businesses are still struggling to return to business as usual. 

The key to a swift recovery is to always be prepared. Here are 6 tips you can rely on to overcome supply chain disruptions. 

Rely on Your Contingency Plan

In the event of an emergency, your contingency plan is your best friend. 

This is a plan you’ve created that lays out alternative steps in the supply chain. The goal is to minimize risk, disruption, and dissatisfaction from the consumer. 

When creating this plan, consider alternate shipping routes, nearby suppliers, and different inventory options. Think about every “what-if” scenario you can imagine. While some of these events may seem unlikely, having a plan will save you from having to scramble at the last minute. 

Prioritize the Customer

When disruptions occur, your ultimate goal is to make sure the customer is none the wiser. You should aim to deliver the same high-quality product at a reasonable time.

If the disruptions are so severe that you cannot fulfill these expectations, you should communicate with your customers as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Let them know the situation and how you plan to remedy it. You can even offer refunds, coupons, or some other incentive to keep them happy.

Keep Communication Open

While you’re managing a crisis, there are a lot of moving parts to juggle. The best way to stay on top of these responsibilities is to keep communication open and productive.

Stay in the loop with every element of your supply chain, including the production team, fulfillment sector, employees, and, of course, the customers. End-to-end visibility will keep everyone on the same page and working toward the same goal.

Conduct Regular Audits

Creating a supply chain is only the first step in a business plan. You also need to maintain it and check frequently for issues. 

Conducting regular audits of your supply chain process is crucial because it can resolve vulnerabilities before they become major issues. With the information provided by an audit, you’ll know your investments are going toward the right improvements. 

Build Back-up Inventory

When things are going well for your business, you should still always be preparing for the worst. One way you can do this is to build your backup inventory. 

You should keep an amount of inventory that is just slightly over the amount regularly needed. That way, when there is a disruption to the production process, you can send out this backup inventory and minimize delays to the customer. 

Learn From Past Disruptions

Finally, do your best to learn from this disruption and all disruptions you’ve already overcome. Thoroughly document the response procedure and remember areas that were particularly difficult. 

Then, moving forward, you can update your contingency plan or any sector of the business in need of improvements. Learning from the past will help you recover faster the next time you face disruptions.

Trust a Fulfillment Partner to Minimize Disruptions

Managing a business is hard enough. Do you have a partner who can manage your fulfillment and distribution services in these difficult times? 

Contact Cannon Hill Logistics to be your East Coast 3PL provider! For more than 35 years, we have helped small businesses by providing the tools and personalized services they need. Conveniently based in Frederick, Maryland, we can ship to half of the US population within two business days using ground transportation.

Call now to learn more! 800-822-4747