Ecommerce apparel has unique packaging requirements versus clothing sold in brick-and-mortar stores. For example, retail packaging enclosures like hangers are often superfluous for clothing sold online. A new set of best practices, called the “Apparel and General Merchandise E-Commerce Fulfillment Guideline,” addresses the issue.
The guideline was developed by a workgroup of the GS1 US Apparel and General Merchandise Initiative. GS1 US, a not-for-profit organization, develops information standards that improve supply chain visibility.
The first iteration of the group’s voluntary guideline for ecommerce apparel, released in May 2016, focuses on packaging, product identification and marking for apparel, footwear and accessories—everything from evening gowns to onesies.
Detailed information on how to ticket items using Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) identification, and best practices for identifying and coding units of measure (UOM) such as multipacks and product sets, are included in the guideline.
As for packaging, the guideline states that it should “retain consumer presentation quality” and protect products during shipment. The apparel item should remain securely within its primary package throughout the multi-step journey from supplier to consumer and also retain its shape while packed in that primary package.
The guideline further states: “Product packaging should keep the item from getting soiled, broken, wrinkled, or rendered unfit for sale.”
BHT-free (butylated hydroxytoluene) polyethylene bags are the featured package structure in the guideline. These include the flat bags used for folded clothing and the roll-stock bags used to package hanging items. Closure options for the bags include BHT-free adhesive sealing and heat sealing as well as closures that use snaps, folds or tucks.
The guideline also addresses bag ventilation (vents and air holes), label placement on bags and bag material and material thickness. In addition, it points out the necessity of including a “polybag warning statement” on apparel bags and provides an appendix with numerous links to warning-statement examples.