Can Your Apparel 3PL Handle the Volume?

Cyber Monday 2016 will be the largest online shopping day on record, according to the experts at Adobe Digital Insights. Online sales of $3.36 billion are expected, a 9.4 percent increase on 2015 figures. As an e-tailer, you're probably already ramping up your marketing efforts to claim a slice of the shopping pie, but have you considered how your third-party logistics (3PL) will cope with the increased demand? Does your 3PL have what it takes to perform during this busy period?

Are the Staff Cross-Trained?

Cross-training teaches staff to perform in numerous roles across the business. When 3PLs cross-train their staff, they can step into roles where there is the greatest need and excel. This is crucial during busy periods, such as the holiday season, when a larger number of orders than usual must be fulfilled in a timely, accurate fashion. If your apparel 3PL doesn't cross-train its staff, customers may receive incorrect deliveries or experience delays.

Does Your 3PL Offer Cross-Docking?

The practice of cross-docking sees goods unloaded from incoming transport vehicles directly onto outbound vehicles, with little or no storage time in between. It's ideal for peak periods, such as the time around the holidays, because it decreases customer wait times. It also typically saves retailers money because they don't need to pay for long-term storage. Check whether your 3PL offers cross-docking to help your customers get their holiday apparel purchases fast.

Is Your 3PL an Industry Leader?

Since your 3PL operates behind the scenes, it's easy to underestimate the importance of its reputation. However, a 3PL's influence can become crucial during busy periods.

Production delays may make it difficult for online retailers to distribute a popular dress using its preferred, slower delivery method before office Christmas parties, for example. Paying for expedited shipping for high volumes of consumers would eat into the retailer's profits, but risking slower delivery method could significantly harm the apparel business's reputation.

Leading 3PLs can draw on their strong relationships with carriers to negotiate on price and delivery options, then pass the savings onto their clients. This extra level of service can help retailers out of a sticky situation when the pressure's on.

How Does Your 3PL Plan to Cope With the Demand?

A clear plan is key to surviving any peak retail period, including the time surrounding the holiday season. A representative from your 3PL should be willing to chat with you and share the company's intentions for dealing with the demand. Ask how it will manage staff and operating procedures over this period. What if unexpected problems arise?

You also need to know whether your 3PL can scale with seasonal increases during peak periods, such as during the holidays. Clarify whether your 3PL has the ability to scale in terms of technology, workforce, and infrastructure. Although planning is important, the flexibility to adapt to changes, especially seasonal ones, is also crucial during the holidays. Your conversation should leave you feeling confident that your apparel 3PL is up to the challenges that the holidays present.

The holiday season helps online apparel retailers do more than boost sales; it can also attract shoppers who may become loyal patrons in the future. Delivering the right products on time is crucial for inspiring brand loyalty, so you need a 3PL that performs under pressure. When you need a 3PL that delivers excellence all year round, request a free consultation from The Apparel Logistics Group.

Posted: 12/14/2016 2:44:37 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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