The bulk production is ready, your stuff looks amazing, the world is anxiously waiting for your collection and it’s time to ship. First you need to transport the garment from the manufacturer to e.g. your office or warehouse and then to your customers. Take a look at your agreement with the supplier to see what is included in the deal and what you have to sort out yourself. If your price is FOB, then there is no shipping included, but if your price is COGS then the shipping cost is already included. You can read more about The Garment Price here. When arranging your transport, talk to different logistics companies and see who suits you the best. Set up a business account and negotiate your price. As always you get a better price when you have larger volumes, so when you are small it is more costly.
Shipping from the factory
If you have your production in Asia and there are delays in your production, then you have to fly the garments over, to compensate for the lost time. Usually you ship on boats, in containers. One thing they do is to add some sort of gas in the containers to avoid any problems with insects or mould. It’s very humid and since the shipment takes such a long time, the clothing starts to attract mould…Nasty! Shipping by boat, obviously is cheaper but takes longer and flying is more expensive, and faster.
To avoid tolls, and expensive shipping of materials across the planet, it’s clever to produce your garments in the continent where you will sell it. You sell in EU, then a production of materials and garments in EU, is ideal. From a sustainability aspect, this is very important. To continue on that aspect, you also have to decide what type of packing you should have. Do you want to have poly bags or do you want to have bio degradable bags. Do you want to have recycled paper boxes or ordinary ones? How will you ship the garments, hanging or folded? Delivered hanging will of course look very nice, folded and packed in bags will have the garments look wrinkly and messy. I don’t think many shops will steam your garments before hanging them in the shop.
Read more in Finding A Factory about the advantages and disadvantages about your factory’s location.
Transport to the customers
Once you have received your awaited garments you have to distribute them to your customers. There will be a need for you to repackage the garments to fit the orders from your retailers. If you are small and only work with local wholesalers you can drive out your orders yourself. If you intend to sell it all online, then there is a bit more to think about; first you need the picking section where someone is repacking every outbound order. Don’t forget that this is a big part of your brand image. How do you pack it? What first impression do you want to give to your end customer? Then again you have to consider who your logistics partners are. Large market players are usually bound to one logistics partner in order to reach volume discounts. The advantage of being small is that you probably don’t have any volume discount and can use different partners. You can then as a service, offer your customers different transport solutions, depending on what they want. Are you going to offer free shipping? if you do, remember that you still have to pay for it, so that it is included in your price calculations.
There will be returns when working with apparel. How can you make this easy for your customers? Talk to your wholesalers how to handle this. If you are running an e-commerce business, can you include pre-printed return forms?
So to sum up, the important thing is to think of all aspects of transport and how you can make it easy with no headache. Make sure not to underestimate these costs and review them to make the best arrangements possible.