How to Pack and Ship Clothes

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There are all sorts of reasons consumers buy clothes online. It could be they’re too far from a retail store, would rather shop from the comforts of home, are looking for an outfit for a special occasion, or just because. Regardless, consumers are buying clothes online more than ever before.

In fact, fashion ecommerce accounted for roughly 29.5% of total fashion retail sales in the United States in 2020. There’s no wonder that fashion is the highest revenue-generating ecommerce vertical!

With many different types of clothing, there’s something for everyone and they’re surely able to find it online. Some of the most popular categories of clothing are:

  • Women’s wear
  • Men’s wear
  • Children, toddler, and infant wear
  • Accessories such as outerwear and jewelry
  • Active wear and athleisure
  • Shoes and footwear

If you’re a retailer in the ecommerce fashion space, you know there are many challenges to getting a clothing business off the ground. Shipping clothing is just one of the obstacles you face. Managing apparel fulfillment has a lot of considerations:

  • How do I choose the best packaging for my items?
  • What are my shipping options?
  • How can I manage all of my inventory?

Luckily, ShipBob is here to help! Use these pointers to optimize your clothing shipments (and if you’re interested in outsourcing clothing shipping and fulfillment, request a quote from ShipBob here).

Tips for packaging clothes

While it may seem pretty straightforward, shipping clothes is relatively nuanced. When packing your clothing orders, consider these tips.Don’t pack them too tight

You might think that clothes are soft and can easily be squished into any sized container. While this may be true for shipping clothing like a simple pair of leggings, a common shipping mistake is using packaging that is too small, leading to damage during shipping.

By using an appropriately sized box or mailer, the clothing you’re shipping is less likely to be ripped, torn, or damaged in transit. Items that are less malleable, like accessories and apparel with delicate materials, require more space and protective shipping materials like boxes and supportive dunnage.

Consider a poly mailer over a box

Choosing the best packaging for your product is a crucial aspect of shipping clothes. When you use a box that is too large for the item being sent, you could be overpaying based on the amount of space it takes up on the carrier’s truck. This is where poly mailers come in as an option.

Poly mailers are a great alternative to boxes when shipping clothing because they are less expensive, take up less room, and cut down on shipping costs since they’re lower in dimensional weight. There are even great options for eco-friendly packaging, like compostable bags.

Using poly mailers to ship clothes can help get them to the customer with minimal damages. Breakable and rigid items should not be shipped in poly mailers because they require more dunnage due to their delicate nature.

Include the receipt if a gift

Clothing and accessories are common gift items. If you are shipping clothes as a gift, including a receipt is useful for the sender and recipient as a return or exchange may be needed for a different size. If a paper copy is not available to include in the package, make the gift receipt available electronically so the recipient can exchange or return the item if needed.

With 3PLs like ShipBob, you can also include custom gift notes if you offer that as an option at checkout. This helps you, as the retailer, make the gift giving experience even more special.

Other shipping best practices when sending clothes in the mail

When shipping apparel, there are other considerations to make sure the shipping process goes smoothly. These tips will ensure your clothing items ‘wow’ the customer and meet their expectations.

Get a tracking number to provide to your recipient

70% of consumers said the ability to track orders is one of their top three considerations when buying a product online. If customers can track their package, they can check for shipping progress and make sure their item is on its way. Implementing order tracking can help cut back on customer support tickets, reduce the likelihood of theft, increase customer satisfaction, and let you have more control.

Choose the right shipping option

When it comes to shipping speeds, you have options. If you’re on a tight deadline, expedited and 2-day shipping are great, convenient options to ensure packages are getting delivered by their desired date. For ecommerce clothing brands, offering 2-day shipping gives a competitive edge to your business.

Around the holidays, be sure to allow plenty of time for a package to arrive in advance of Christmas or other milestones. During this busy time of year, known as peak season, carriers are often overloaded and delays can occur.

Provide the right info upfront to reduce returns

Personalizing your site and adding accurate product descriptions are crucial aspects of optimizing your online store. Having proper catalog management can alleviate issues such as high return rates and inaccurate product tags, as well as improve customer satisfaction and create an overall better user experience.

Selling clothes online? ShipBob can help with that

If you’re starting an ecommerce apparel store or are ready to outsource your logistics and shipping, ShipBob can assist with your merchandise fulfillment. With ShipBob’s fulfillment network and technology, ecommerce fashion retailers are able to manage all aspects of their business such as their inventory levels, customer orders, and online catalog — all while saving time on fulfillment.

Apparel companies are likely to have a high volume of SKUs, especially as they expand their product lines— there are different pants, various tops, multiple accessories, and more you can sell. But the more SKUs you have, the more complicated it can be to manage them all. And the more expensive it can be to store them (some 3PLs may have SKU limits or maximums, so you will have to have a conversation with them).

When you connect your online store with ShipBob, you’re able to manage your SKUs so you can:

ShipBob can help with these challenges and a whole host of other issues. A tech-based 3PL like ShipBob can even enable distributed inventory, fast shipping, and more streamlined product returns so you can get back to what matters most: your business.

Customer testimonials

Hear from ShipBob customers on how ShipBob helps fulfill and ship their clothing and apparel.

“With ShipBob, we have the right partner to work through any pain points we face by talking to experts who specialize in shipping and logistics.”– Carl Protsch, Co-Founder of FLEO

“Last time we shipped our own packages, it took us 3 weeks. It took ShipBob less than 2 days. I couldn’t wait to delegate this business over, because the stress level was through the roof. I am just so grateful for ShipBob.”

– Andrea Hamilton, Founder of The Finer Things 1920

Want to hear more? Read these case studies:

FAQs for shipping clothes

Here are answers to the top questions people have about shipping clothes.

What’s the best carrier to send clothes with?

The best carrier to ship clothes with will depend on the package weight and dimensions, desired shipping speed, shipping destination, and your point or origin. You can always compare shipping carriers to determine which is the best fit for your apparel business.

What is the cheapest way to ship (bulk) clothes?

When comparing UPS, USPS, and FedEx, generally speaking, USPS specializes in handling small, lightweight packages under 20 pounds — including packages containing items like apparel, accessories, and other clothing items. You can easily compare costs online through carriers’ websites or partner with a 3PL like ShipBob who optimizes for the fastest, most cost-effective delivery using a variety of international, domestic, and regional carriers.

Does ShipBob work with clothing companies?

Yes! ShipBob works with thousands of ecommerce companies including many clothing and accessory brands. To learn more about our partnerships with apparel companies, check out case studies with brands such as 100 Thieves, Brummell, and Ocean & Co.

Order fulfillment services

You omnichannel fulfillment partner that's an extension of your brand, from unboxings to 2-day shipping.

Warehouse management

Have your own warehouse? Get ShipBob WMS to reduce mis-picks, save time, and improve productivity.

Global scalability

Grow into new geographies with ShipBob's international presence in the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Australia.

Written By:

Meredith is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she writes articles, eGuides, and other resources to help growing ecommerce businesses master their logistics and fulfillment.

Read all posts written by Meredith Flora