Navigating the World of Apparel Shipping: How To Ship Clothes (2024)

Navigating the World of Apparel Shipping: How To Ship Clothes (2024)

For ecommerce shoppers, there’s a special excitement in coming home to find a neatly wrapped package waiting at the front door. Conversely, there’s a special frustration reserved for damaged boxes, missing shipments, and delivery delays.

An effective shipping process can make the difference between high customer loyalty and diminishing retention rates. Here’s what you need to know about shipping clothes to customers.

How to ship clothes

  1. Choose your packing container
  2. Package clothes
  3. Prepare your shipment

It takes a few steps to ship clothing. Here’s an overview of the process:

1. Choose your packing container

Select the right container for your items, keeping in mind size, weight, cost, durability, and branding:

  • Package size. Shipping costs vary by box size, so choose a shipping container that fits your items snugly. Choosing the right size box can also minimize movement as items reach their final destination.
  • Container weight. Shipping rates also factor in package weight; reduce costs by avoiding heavy materials. Poly bags, cardboard boxes, and corrugated boxes are cost-effective choices.
  • Durability. Look for materials that protect against shocks, vibrations, and moisture. Reinforced cardboard, double-walled boxes, or cushioning materials like bubble wrap help safeguard delicate items during transit.
  • Branding. Your customer’s experience starts when their package arrives, so choose a container that aligns with your brand identity. Consider custom-branded packaging or invest in eco-friendly materials to promote your commitment to sustainability.

2. Package clothes

Once you’ve selected a container, you’re ready to pack clothes in a protective layer. Effective packaging withstands shipping rigors and protects fragile, delicate items like a silk blouse or vintage wedding dress. A plastic packing material such as bubble wrap or a plastic bag provides moisture protection, while air pillows and foam boards offer lightweight cushioning.

You might include decorative packing materials like tissue paper, ribbon, stickers, or custom thank-you notes for a pleasant unboxing experience.

Here are a few tips to help you handle special cases:

  • Shipping wedding dresses. Fold the dress gently, crossing the sleeves over the body and rolling the train up from the bottom. Place undyed tissue paper between layers of fabric. Then, place the dress in a plastic garment bag, put the bag in your shipping container, and use bubble wrap or air pillows to fill in any extra space.
  • Shipping multiple items. Fold items individually and stack them before placing them in a garment bag. If there’s a risk of color transfer or snagging (e.g., you’re packing multiple shirts in different colors or multiple pants in different materials), consider placing tissue between the items or using individual garment bags for each piece.
  • Shipping delicate fabrics. Select rigid packaging materials like foam boards and choose a box size big enough so not to compress the contents. Then, wrap each item in acid-free tissue paper and fill in extra space with padding materials.

3. Prepare your shipment

Close your shipping container and secure it with shipping tape. Weigh packages at home using a kitchen scale or other household scale, purchase shipping labels online from Shopify Shipping or your preferredshipping service, and print your labels.

Tape your shipping label to the top of the box to reduce the likelihood of your item being turned upside down in transit.

Tips for shipping clothes

High shipping costs can eat into your profit margins and discourage shoppers from purchasing. Here are three tips to help you keep yours down:

Do your homework

The cheapest way to ship clothes depends on shipment weight, shipment size, shipping distance, and delivery speed. Pricing systems also vary by carrier and shipping method, so get to know the service models of popular shipping companies to keep costs down.

Here’s an overview of key services from the two most popular shipping companies in the US:

Leverage flat-rate shipping options

Many carriers offer flat-rate shipping options, which price shipments based solely on package size. Select a flat-rate box, a pre-priced cardboard box provided by your shipping company. Then, fill the box and pay the rate associated with your chosen size.

Consider using the flat-rate model to ship boxes containing heavy, compact clothing items like leather or denim jackets. Avoid it for low-density packages, which may cost less under a different model, and large clothing shipments, which are unlikely to fit in a flat-rate box.

Open a business account

Many shipping companies offer special services and discounted shipping ratesto customers with business profiles. For example, shipping provider and courier service DHL provides volume discounts, shipping insurance, and return services through its DHL eCommerce program.

Explore business shipping programs and register for business accounts to take advantage of these perks.

Extra considerations for shipping clothes internationally

Mailing clothes to other countries is more complex than sending domestic shipments. When researching international shipping options, here are a few considerations:

Check import regulations

International shipment processes vary by country. You can use the UPS international shipping tool to identify rules and regulations for your shipping destination, including prohibited item types and paperwork requirements.

Pay duties and taxes

International shipments are often subject to duties and taxes, which are import fees payable to the destination country’s government. Unless the shipper specifies otherwise, responsibility for these fees falls to the receiving party.

Many ecommerce businesses use a delivered duty paid (DDP) shipping model, allowing sellers to pay import fees upfront, streamlining the delivery process and eliminating the need for customers to make two payments for one order. Use a duty calculator to estimate these fees and set prices accordingly.

Fill out international shipping paperwork

International shipments typically require more paperwork. Documentation requirements vary by country, but many destinations require an export packing list and a commercial invoice:

  • Export packing list. The export packing list contains information about package origin, content, destination address, and transportation method.
  • Commercial invoice. The commercial invoice contains information about package contents and value and helps the receiving country classify the shipment and apply fees or regulations.

Many international shipping carriers help you identify your paperwork needs. Shopify Shipping also provides all necessary forms along with your international shipping label.

How to ship clothes FAQ

What is the cheapest way to ship clothes?

The cheapest option for shipping clothes depends on your package’s specific size and weight, your shipping destination, and your desired shipping speed. Use an online cost estimator to compare prices by carrier.

Is it cheaper to ship by weight or box size?

It depends on the density of your package. It’s often cheaper to ship small, heavy items by box size and large, light packages by weight.

How do you ship clothes with a wardrobe box?

Here’s how to use a wardrobe box to ship clothes:

1. Assemble the box.

2. Install the hanging bar.

3. Put shoes, accessories, and other small items at the bottom of the box.

4. Hang clothes from the bar using standard household clothing hangers.

5. Close and secure the box.

6. Drop off the box with your chosen carrier or schedule a pickup.

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