Apparel manufacturing is a difficult business. As the industry grows, consumer demand is rising along with it, and new trends are shifting customer expectations toward fast fashion. It’s also competitive, and companies are up against some stiff competition, especially when it comes to price. These conditions surrounding apparel manufacturing make it necessary for companies to make sure that all of the pieces involved are successfully flowing together.
It can be challenging, however, for businesses to smoothly navigate their supply chain processes without slipping into common pitfalls. They will risk significant losses if a shipment is delayed, so every little crack in the supply chain matters. In order to thrive, businesses need to prepare in advance by identifying any potential inefficiencies before they have a chance to become a problem.
Despite the industry’s intense competition and high consumer demands, there are several approaches companies can use to properly prepare and reach success. Understanding the mistakes many companies make when shipping apparel is one of the ways you can avoid preventable issues that negatively impact the bottom line. Here, we will dive into one of the most typical supply chain missteps that can occur: inefficient inventory management.
During the process of filling a customer order, an operator will remove pre-selected items from inventory that are stored in the warehouse to prepare them for packaging, and this part of the process is referred to as order picking. Order picking is one of the more challenging elements of warehouse operations, and it can lead to mistakes that typically go unrecognized and waste time as well as money.
Errors in picking, or mispicks, usually occur as a result of the manual labor companies rely on to complete this step. For example, when items are not placed in the correct location, orders can be delayed because pickers have to take the time to find them. This issue can be better addressed with the implementation of the right Warehouse Management System (WMS). A WMS helps simplify order picking due to the fact that it enhances how items are initially stored. Operators can also accidentally mispick items that have similar SKUs, so if you’re not already using barcode scanners, they can be a great addition for your warehouse to help ensure more accurate picks.
While you may want to increase efficiency in your picking process, hiring too many employees could actually cause more errors due to overwhelming traffic. You can integrate better inventory management strategies like zone or wave picking to introduce more automation, improve order consolidation, and increase visibility within the warehouse. Apparel businesses can analyze their benchmark data as well to help them figure out the appropriate number of employees to hire, so they can meet order demand and provide more on-time deliveries.
If you want to differentiate yourself in the competitive environment of the apparel industry, competing on price is not the way to go — operational efficiency is what you need to focus on maintaining. Companies that have the ability to meet customer expectations and deliver apparel as quickly and efficiently as possible will ultimately survive in the long run.