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Types of logistics and their role in the fashion industry

The fashion and apparel industry is one of the leading industries in India. This industry usually works in clusters and such clusters are located countrywide. Also, each cluster has its speciality. For example, Varanasi is famous for Banaras silk sarees and Surat is the hub for textile. Such nature of the industry calls for heavy dependence on logistics for moving apparel across the country. Therefore, logistics plays a critical role in the fashion/apparel industry. This article takes a closer look at the role of logistics and the different types of logistics used in the fashion industry.


Here are the different types of logistics and their roles in the apparel and garment industry.

Inbound logistics

It involves the overall acquisition of raw materials needed for the fashion/apparel/garment industry. The scope of inbound logistics encompasses a selection of vendors, placing timely orders, negotiations, and so on.

Role of inbound logistics in the fashion industry:

Inbound logistics plays a critical role in s because it deals with the acquisition of raw material without which the production would come to a halt. One of the challenges that inbound logistics may face is the fluctuating prices of raw materials, especially cotton and silk. Negotiations with vendors and placing timely orders as per the demand projection are key factors.

Production logistics

Managing the entire process of production that includes various processes such as dying, cutting, sewing, assembling and so on. Some of the important aspects of production logistics include production planning, material management, quality control, and so on.

Role of production logistics in the apparel industry:

Production logistics ensures streamlining of processes and ensures availability of the required raw material. Production logistics ensures timely production of the required quality garments and clothing cost-effectively.

Inventory management

Inventory management is a key aspect of logistics and supply chain. It includes stocking the required raw materials and finished products for distribution. The main aspect of inventory management is maintaining the balance between overstocking and running out of stock.

Role of inventory management in the garment industry:

The role of inventory management in the fashion industry is critical. Garment demand in India can be season specific. This means demand for winter wear is more in the winter while wedding and festive seasons demand for ethnic attire rises. Therefore, keeping track of projections and maintaining inventory accordingly is important for any fashion house and textile mill.


Warehousing is an important function in the logistics industry. It fulfils need of storing and packing as and when the goods to b dispatched. Automation and technology plays a critical role in the success of warehousing.

Role of warehousing in the apparel industry:

The role of warehousing is critical in the fashion and clothing industry because garments need to be carefully sorted and stored according to sizes, colours and other specifications. Such organised storing ensures efficient order picking. Alternatively, maintaining the right temperature and humidity is also essential for some garments.


Transportation looks after movement of the raw materials as well as finished goods. Many times, goods cover a long journey through warehouses, distribution centres, retailers, and so on. Various modes of transport such as trucks, ships, and air cargo. Moreover, in the case of inter-state transport and import-export, documentation needs to be robust for smooth movement.


Role of transportation in the fashion industry: Transportation in the textile industry is one of the cost-intensive segments. Therefore, route optimisation plays a critical role. As mentioned above, GST on transportation of garments and preparation of customs documentation for import-export of garments are some of the important factors of transportation. Moreover, the movement of goods needs to be seamless as it can avoid shipping damages.

Reverse logistics

Reverse logistics include logistics activities involved in the return of goods for any reason including exchange, damage, repair and so on. Reverse logistics plays a crucial role in the e-commerce supply chain as customer satisfaction is closely associated with it.

Role of reverse logistics in the fashion industry:

With e-commerce, customers may order the wrong size or colour may not match their expectations. In such cases, customers exchange or return products where reverse logistics comes into play. Reverse logistics can be expensive for the business however, it is directly related to customer satisfaction. Therefore, the efficiency of reverse logistics is extremely important for the success of business.

Return management

Return management is a process of managing returned goods. It may involve repair, refurbishment and restocking. The process depends on the reason for the return. For example, if goods are returned due to damage, they need to be repaired before restocking.

Role of returns management in the fashion/garment industry:

In returns management for apparel or garment companies, one needs to manage garments returned over sizing issues, defects, or customer preferences. These garments need to be restocked after the required treatment.

What is the supply chain process of an apparel company?

Step one: Raw material acquisition and vendor selection

The first step is to procure the required raw material. For example, if it is shirt making company then it needs to procure cloth, buttons, looms, etc. The procurement team selects the quality of products, shortlists vendors and aims at procuring material at the lowest cost possible.

Step two: Production planning

The next step is planning the production as per forecasted demand. The production team plans production considering several aspects including projected demand, availability of raw materials, etc.

Step three: Production/Manufacturing

After the production plan is laid out, the actual production of garments and apparel takes place.

Step four: Distribution

Once the garments are made and ready, they are ready to dispatch. The shipping department in the garment industry dispatches ready garments to various stakeholders in the supply chain such as distributors, wholesalers, warehouses, e-commerce channels, and so on. Transportation logistics plays a critical role here in moving garments and apparel to their destinations.

Step 5: Warehousing

Many garment companies prefer to be close to customers. In this effort, ready garments or apparel are stored in closer proximity to customers. As a result, many garment companies prefer to store their ready stock at centralised warehouses. This enables them to deliver goods on demand within a short time.

Step 6: Last-mile delivery

Last-mile delivery is the movement of goods from the logistics hubs to their final delivery destination. This means garments stored in the warehouse are then handed over to transport partners or logistics partners to deliver them to customers. It is a critical aspect in the context of e-commerce where delivery timelines are stricter.

Concluding remarks

Logistics plays an important role in the fashion and apparel industry. It is essential to understand your supply chain and, role of logistics in your business and work accordingly.

Swati Deshpande

Swati is a passionate content writer with more than 10 years of experience crafting content for the business and manufacturing sectors, and helping MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) navigate complexities in steel procurement, and business services. Her clear and informative writing empowers MSMEs to make informed decisions and thrive in the competitive landscape.