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Shipping Clothing to Latin America: E-Commerce Opportunities

Monday, October 1, 2018
2 mins

Shipping clothing to Latin America is becoming a growing opportunity for e-commerce retailers thanks to the region’s booming fashion industry. Let’s explore why clothing is a hot commodity in Latin America and consider some tips for shipping clothing to the region.

Fashion is Hot in Latin America

As many Latin American countries emerge strongly from the economic downturn of 2008, the middle classes in these countries continue to grow at breakneck speeds. That means consumers have more expendable income to spend on luxuries like fashion and electronics.

Latin American consumers are driving explosive growth in the fashion industry. The 2018 market was worth more than $160 billion, with 2018-2019 growth projected at up to 7.5%. That makes it a much easier market to penetrate than the mature and slower-growing U.S. and E.U. markets. And this means that it’s a destination rich with potential for shipping clothing from U.S.-based e-commerce retailers.

Fashion is center stage in Mexico City. - Image source

Latin America is wielding more influence than ever in the global fashion industry. According to McKinsey & Company’s 2018 State of Fashion Report, “global fashion brands have been turning to world renowned artists and architects to boost everything from visual merchandising to marketing,” with a “growing number of them com[ing] from Latin America.”

Retail apparel isn’t the only potential area of growth for U.S. companies looking into selling and shipping clothing to Latin America. There are also opportunities for U.S. producers of textile and clothing accessories to export unfinished goods to the region in support of the burgeoning apparel industry in many Latin American countries.

Tips for Shipping Clothing to Latin America

The primary challenge with shipping clothing to Latin America is remaining competitive against local retailers. These tips will help you entice consumers to consider your brand.

To Fulfill or Not to Fulfill?

Using fulfillment services can shorten shipping times and lower shipping costs—savings you can pass on to your customers.

As Shopify notes, fulfillment does have its drawbacks. If you have a specific brand aesthetic you want to apply to your packaging, in-house shipping may be the only way to achieve that. Plus, there are costs associated with fulfillment warehouses that need to be balanced against the savings.

Choose the Right Packaging

Luckily, shipping clothing makes choosing the right packaging pretty easy—even for international journeys. Since most clothing is light and compact, poly mailers make a great, inexpensive choice. Wrap the garment in bubble wrap for an extra layer of protection.

Make Customer Service a Priority

In the past, slow shipping times and high costs put international e-commerce retailers at a disadvantage against local retailers.

Now, with companies like SkyPostal making shipping clothing to Latin America fast and affordable, e-commerce retailers can prioritize customer service touches in their logistics. E-commerce customers expect package tracking and customer service in the local language. Finding a logistics provider with these capabilities can make your company competitive against local retailers.

Make Sure you Declare the Right Value

It’s extremely important to properly declare the value of the goods you’re shipping. If the price that you declare on your customs documentation seems off, some customs authorities will actually halt your shipment and take the time to investigate. That might mean checking the price on your website or even contacting the consignee and asking for proof of purchase to verify the amount.

Save yourself the headache and the disgruntled customers by double-checking the declared value before submitting your forms.

E-commerce allows small clothing businesses to connect to customers around the world. - Image source

Have a Return Policy in Mind

The e-commerce apparel industry has a return rate of nearly 50%, and international returns can quickly eat into profits. To safeguard against losses from returns, make sure your logistics provider can handle returns for your customers.

Be Careful Shipping Used Clothing

Second-hand clothing is catching on in the U.S., especially for luxury items. But if your e-commerce business is re-selling used clothing, be aware of the extra hurdles that go into shipping it to Latin America.

Used clothing is an exception to the easy trade relations between the U.S. and Mexico under NAFTA; it requires special import licenses intended to reduce hygiene issues and protect the business of local apparel makers.

Start Shipping Clothing Today

If you already have Latin American customers clamoring for your clothing, contact SkyPostal today to see how our competitive rates and shipping times can give you an advantage against other e-commerce and local retailers.