Factoring in Logistics

CanadaFashionLaw was delighted to moderate a panel for FGI Toronto on the importance of uniforms in corporate branding and also to attend the DHL sponsored panel during Toronto’s Fashion Week on business considerations in the fashion industry.

As part of CanadaFashionLaw‘s fashion chats series, we sat down with Greg Hewitt, President of DHL Canada, to get his perspective on the importance of logistics in the fashion industry.

Shipping, importing and exporting is a huge component of the fashion industry.  What type of business consideration should be given to logistics?

Set out goals, develop a business plan and educate yourself about what it takes to start a business with a trusted financial advisor. Map out a 3 month / 6 month / 1 year plan to get started. Keep in mind that understanding supply and demand for your product is crucial in deciding on not only how to start your business, but how to make it efficient and profitable in a competitive market.

Few SMEs have the luxury of a dedicated shipping department to handle the logistics of shipping outside Canada, especially when you are first launching your brand. Taking the time to establish a clear and effective shipping strategy is the key to business success. Working with established logistics partners, like DHL, that have experience in your markets can help you establish a clear strategy and ensure your business is equipped to handle the demands of a fast-paced fashion industry.

How is DHL geared to assisting Canada’s fashion industry’s logistical needs?

DHL has more than 100,000 international specialists on the ground. There is a huge variety of different business sectors in which SMEs operate. DHL can offer expert advice and solutions to all sectors and to all companies, no matter how small.  Smooth logistics can help SMEs reduce paperwork and processing; create stronger linkage with foreign partners and establish new relationships with a foreign customer base; manage cash tied up in inventory; give SMEs the flexibility to adapt quickly and cost effectively to new orders and spikes or peaks in demand; support with export / shipping including complex customs procedures; provide professional training programs for client.

If you begin importing or exporting, there are customs, trade and shipping laws that will come into play. These can vary greatly from one country to the next, and these laws will not only govern how your shipment is received, but they will also be specific to the type of product being sent.  To stay on top of changing regulations, be in constant contact with your logistics partner who will have the most current, up to date information available for you.

Are there challenges that are distinct to startups v. established businesses?

Breaking into any industry – be it technology, entertainment or fashion — has its obstacles. The fashion industry is no different; what makes sense in a startup scenario is likely relevant whether you are making software or sarongs.  A young entrepreneur needs to realize that in the 21st century, shopping is no longer simply about purchasing goods to fulfill certain basic needs. Connection with the customer and visual attractiveness are likewise crucial – especially to online retailers. SMEs have to understand that and capitalize on developing a solid strategy that emphasizes that connection between retailer and customer.  A purchase is most often an “emotional” one – a buying decision made solely on emotional attachment or want for something. Therefore, creating a “real” and engaging experience in online shops becomes a priority. This is getting more and more important as consumers are confronted with more and more products and buying channels. Thus, their loyalties for brands and retailers are decreasing. However, retailers can create new ways to attract and retain customers by offering them innovative shopping experiences.  In the age of mobile technology, the role of the physical store is changing. According to industry experts, modern retail stores will become places focused on fostering customer relationships, maintaining brand awareness, offering a lifestyle experience and selling a good time.

DHL has been a great supporter of Canada’s fashion industry.  Can you tell us about some of your initiatives? 

DHL initiated the Friends of Fashion Program, is a partner of IMG and Fashion Group International and participates in programs such as the DHL Fashion Industry Panel to disseminate important information.