A well-functioning warehouse has a lot of moving parts. New inventory has to be received, orders processed and shipped, returns must be categorized — and it all has to function smoothly.
The apparel industry has a similar basic workflow, but “fast fashion” means it can often run at breakneck speed. With new clothing items going from initial design to retail shelves sometimes in a matter of weeks, having a streamlined and efficient warehouse is vital.
If you’d like to break into this exciting and fast-paced industry, here are a few warehouse jobs in the apparel industry to consider.
Receiving Goods and Stocking
We often think of warehouses as the origins of the products we receive. In reality, warehouses are an intermediary between the factory where the clothes are manufactured and either a retail shop or an end user.
That means someone in the warehouse has to receive those clothes, unpack them, and put them in the appropriate place so the pickers know where to find them. This may be as simple as organizing boxes, or as complicated as hanging clothing on racks quickly and accurately.
Once the receivers and stockers have put the clothing in the right place, it’s up to pickers and packers to fulfil incoming orders.
Warehouses that service retail stores may fulfil bulk orders. Sometimes, these larger orders will be presorted before they leave the factory, but often it will be up to the pickers to make sure that the right garments get to the right store for final sale.
Warehouses that ship directly to the consumer will fulfil smaller orders of just a few pieces at a time. Pickers and packers are often held to rigorous time standards, which is why it’s so important for the stockers to make sure that each garment is where it belongs.
Warehouse administrators help to ensure that the whole operation is running smoothly. They coordinate shipping schedules, and facilitate communication between different warehouse departments. This work includes invoicing, data entry, and order fulfillment.
While many warehouse jobs require heavy lifting and physical activity, warehouse administration requires strict attention to detail, plus computer skills and math/finance know-how.
The workflow of product in → product out seems straightforward enough. But what happens when it looks like this: product in → product out → product returned?
Not every piece of apparel that is shipped out stays out. Sometimes, items get returned, and it’s the responsibility of the reverse logistics team to process these returns. Returns must be managed quickly and efficiently in order to prevent disrupting the normal flow of warehouse operations.
Returned items often come into a separate warehouse space than regular items so they can be processed and customers can receive their refunds. Reverse logistics involves setting up protocols so employees know when a returned item can be restocked/resold, when it must be discarded, and when it should be returned to the manufacturer.
In smaller warehouses, inventory management may fall under the purview of administrators or operations managers. However, in larger warehouses, inventory management will have its own dedicated staff.
Inventory managers will decide where items are kept in the warehouse for maximum efficiency and logical flow. The “hottest” items should be at eye-level for pickers, and closest to the shipping area.
Inventory managers also control the warehouse’s management software, which can help to automate the process. Long-time inventory managers are often able to tell employees from memory of what SKUs should be available in the warehouse — and at what quantity — at any given time.
Warehouse Jobs in the Apparel Industry
Apparel warehouses operate all across the United States. Many entry-level positions provide on-the-job training in picking, shipping, and receiving.
For example, UA Brands is often hiring for entry-level warehouse jobs in Lithia Springs, GA. These jobs can include picking/packing jobs, as well as associate and QA positions.
Those with computer skills and some bookkeeping experience may be eligible for jobs in warehouse administration or inventory management. The skills earned in these positions may be transferable to other warehouse positions, or even to jobs in procurement or supply chain management.