Storage solutions to meet the challenges faced by clothing retailers

Clothing retailers face many challenges when it comes to displaying and storing their clothes, but what are some of the biggest?

What are the challenges?

Clothing comes in so many shapes and sizes, from small tops to full flowing prom dresses. Different types of clothing are in demand depending on the seasons. Sometimes retailers need to feature winter coats, at other times summer dresses.

At various times of the year, clothing retailers have sales when their stores need to be completely rearranged with different storage requirements. Storing solutions for clothing retailers need to be efficient and flexible to adapt to changing stock turnover.

The same storing challenges apply to large clothing retailers such as Asos and Debenhams as they do to smaller clothing companies like Joules, Crew Clothing and Karen Millen.

Storing solutions are required both for retail stores and online retailing.

Garment rails

For many clothing items, the best way to store them is on garment rails. For some items, a single-tier rail is fine, but often retailers like to mix short and long garments on one rail. There are two solutions to this: two-tier rails have a top and mid-level rail, while split-level rails have one rail that is bent so that it has a high and lower section.

Garment rails can have wheels for easy movement around the shop floor and warehouse, or can be static.

Full-length dresses with wide profiles present a particular challenge. Prom or wedding dresses are fine on standard garment rails when displayed, but moving them around on garment rails can be difficult. They are heavy and can easily get caught on objects as they travel. The solution to this is Z-style rails that have shoulder sections used as handles. As a bonus, these also protect the dresses when in transit.

Keeping clothes clean

Cleanliness is not an issue in a high turnover store where clothes are sold within a few weeks, but if out-of-season clothes need to be stored for a while, they can be affected by dirt and dust. Care needs to be taken when clothes are in transit on vehicles. The solution to this is garment rail covers made from strong water resistant material that is lightweight and easy to fit over the garment rail.

Coping with fluctuating demand

At the Christmas period and sales, more garment rails are needed to store clothes to meet the high demand. In slacker periods, it is useful to be able to easily store excess garment rails. Easy store rails are designed to fit together and take up the minimum space when not needed, while some clothing rails can be dismantled for storage.

Mobile garment needs

A pop-up shop, exhibition or trade show often requires flexibility. There may be no room to store stock to replenish or add to displays if clothes sell quickly. If there are no large vehicles available to transport additional clothes on garment rails, the answer is to take a collapsible rail and clothes in a small van, or even a car. The best of these garment rails can be reassembled quickly without the need for tools or special skills.

Hangers

Most clothing stores offer customers a choice of keeping the hanger or not, and a number of customers will opt to not take the hanger home with them. Some retailers simply put the unwanted hangers in a box, but the problem with this is that the hangers can get tangled and mixed up. A narrow storage unit with seven rails can be placed behind the counter and hangers easily segregated into types. When it gets full, it can easily be moved ready for the hangers to be recycled for further use.

Returns

Whether clothes are sold in stores or online, clothing retailers expect a number of returns, so it is important that these are processed quickly. At the returns counter, all types of clothing and accessories will be taken in. Most will be able to be hung on a garment rail, ready for processing, but some smaller items such as jewellery, socks and other accessories are not suitable for hanging. The solution for this is a garment rail that has a bottom platform for tote boxes, which can store smaller items.

Online order picking

In online warehouses, equipment is needed to pick clothes and move them to packing stations. Garment rails with wheels can move items on hangers, and picking trolleys for non-hanged items. Alternatively, garment rails that can also accommodate tote boxes can be utilised.

Bespoke solutions

Storage solutions for clothing retailers are available from British manufacturers. A good manufacturer will have a wide range of suitable storage products, but often a clothing retailer wants a bespoke solution. They may want garment rails with a specific number of rails, or ones in a different colour. The standard sizes of equipment may not be ideal. A designer from the manufacturer will visit the store or warehouse and come up with bespoke designs, especially for a clothing retailer.

The quality of the garment rails

In busy retail shops and online order warehouses, garment rails get a lot of use. It is important that they are well made and built to last.

The best garment rails are made from tubular steel which is both lightweight and strong, Moveable rails need strong casters that can make the rails easily moved and steered.

Meeting the challenge

There’s no doubt that it’s a challenging time for clothing retailers with many high street brands such as Debenhams and House of Fraser closing stores. Of course, some brands, such as BHS have already gone, and HMV is another well-known retailer that recently entered administration.

In difficult trading times, it is important to make all areas of business more efficient. Storing garments is one area where efficiencies can be made. Finding the best storage solutions for clothing retailers is one of many ways in which clothing business can be more efficient. This helps create more income and ensure the survival of the company.

The large growth area in clothing is online retailing, but this is very competitive. Making efficiencies in how clothes are stored is a vital contribution to making online clothing retailers viable.

Posted by Derek
3rd January 2019
Retail & Warehousing

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