February saw New York, London, Milan and Paris welcome the great and good of the fashion industry for the A/W 2018 Fashion Week shows, with proceedings drawing to a close in Paris this week.

Fashion Week is a major event in the retail calendar. With a growing number of brands implementing runway-to-retail marketing strategies, including the likes of Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger and high street brands such as Topshop and M&S, the pressure is on fulfilment and logistics suppliers to meet demand.

Recent years have seen UK brands embrace the huge sales opportunity offered by London Fashion Week, shunning the outdated six-month lag between seeing and buying. September last year saw Topshop make styles available to consumers immediately after their catwalk debut, while Burberry invited consumers to watch the shows live before buying its ‘now collection’ styles seen on the runway. Tommy Hilfiger also capitalised on consumers’ desire for instant gratification, making everything ‘shoppable’.

With e-commerce websites supporting heavy traffic, boosted by targeted social media campaigns and advertising, the hard work begins once the sale has been made. Fulfilment centres and logistics must run like a well-oiled machine – huge demand, large volumes of individual orders and speedy delivery illustrates the significant differences between B2B and B2C fulfilment.

B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) fulfilment require a substantially different approach, with alternative priorities and risks.

The B2B fulfilment process is much more functional, with much less attention devoted to personal touches. Big-box and bulk orders from businesses remove the need for a ‘volume’ approach and, while speed of delivery is always important, there are many more rules and regulations which must also be considered. B2B fulfilment centres must remain compliant with Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), plus compliance for barcodes, parcels, labels and invoices – there are also high penalties for mistakes.

But, while B2B is by far more complex than B2C fulfilment, the latter is certainly a more pressurised environment – particularly during busy periods. Speed is vital, with focus on delivering goods quickly, as well as spending time on special features.  The sale to delivery process must be efficient and well-managed; ease and speed must follow emotional response to cement brand loyalty.

While B2B and B2C fulfilment are vastly different, the answer to a smooth process in either scenario can be found in smart technology solutions, with real-time inventory view and a unified version of the purchasing process.

Whatever your route to market – B2B, multi-channel, omni-channel or pure-play e-commerce –and regardless of product type, Advanced Supply Chain Group provides a bespoke fulfilment service to ensure that compliant, customer-ready orders are delivered on time and in full, maximising speed to market and sales.