A new guideline has been released to help apparel and general merchandise retailers, brand owners and manufacturers move towards a single e-commerce and omnichannel fulfilment process.

The 'Apparel and General Merchandise E-Commerce Fulfillment Guideline' from standards group GS1 US contains industry best practices for successfully delivering a consistent cross-channel consumer experience.

It features a comprehensive description of best practices with regard to units of measure, ticketing a product with Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) identification, packaging, and provides a product-specific chart to help retail industry stakeholders determine the appropriate fulfilment practices for each product type.

The ultimate goal for a single fulfilment process is improved cost savings and maximised resources.

The guideline was developed by the GS1 US Omni-Channel Ready Merchandise E-Commerce Fulfillment Workgroup, a subgroup of the GS1 US Apparel and General Merchandise Initiative.

The group includes retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and solution providers whose goal is to identify and resolve the key merchandising challenges in preparing, packaging and shipping product for both in-store and e-commerce fulfilling.

"With heightened consumer expectations for fast and seamless shopping experiences across all channels, retailers are offering consumers a number of flexible fulfilment and delivery options, such as buy online pick-up from store and buy in store ship to home," explains Melanie Nuce, vice president of apparel and general merchandise, GS1 US.

"Traditional fulfilment processes needed a makeover to keep up with today's on-demand consumer and the corresponding changes to the retail supply chain.

"With the goal of improving the overall e-commerce consumer experience, retail industry stakeholders have come together to determine the best way to present and ship a product so as to not compromise on quality and presentation, while optimising sustainability."

The first iteration of the guideline seeks to reduce a retailer's order-to-fulfilment cycle time. The workgroup is already engaged in developing the next release of the document, slated to be delivered in early 2017, which will further refine omni-channel fulfilment best practices.