Omnichannel Fulfillment: How to Deliver Your Best Across Every Channel
October 6, 2022
To meet customer needs at any time or place, businesses around the world are embracing an omnichannel approach.
This shift is necessary as consumers no longer shop on a single channel but instead go through various touch points before purchasing.
For instance, 55% of shoppers research online (e.g., visiting your direct-to-consumer [DTC] store or price-checking on Amazon) to see what’s locally available, then buy their desired item from a physical store.
By selling on multiple channels and accommodating those behaviors, you offer customers more convenience and give your business a huge advantage.
Omnichannel ecommerce is here to stay, and the statistics support its growing popularity:
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What is omnichannel ecommerce?
“Omnichannel fulfillment is the process of fulfilling orders for a product or service over multiple channels. Omnichannel fulfillment allows us as retailers to get our products in front of customers, at the right time, through the right channel.”
First, let’s cover the basics: Omnichannel selling (sometimes referred to as “multichannel selling”) leverages multiple sales channels to expand and boost your brand’s reach.
It allows shoppers to find you anywhere they look.
This could take the form of a merchant who sells primarily on their DTC store but also has storefronts on Amazon, Walmart, and social media, as well as brick-and-mortar locations so their customers can shop where they prefer.
You can implement multichannel logistics in many ways.
Offering a BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store) option lets you fulfill an online order from your retail store.
Alternatively, you could employ a prep company to restock your Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) inventory and a third-party logistics (3PL) to tackle your DTC orders.
“…the efficiency and impactfulness of our customer service have also improved significantly after optimizing our omnichannel process. We’ve also gained the ability to address specific customer needs in real-time, exponentially boosting our customer retention rate, our Net Promoter Score, and brand awareness across social media.”
With this in mind, we’ve outlined some of the top benefits of adopting an omnichannel approach.
Diversify your logistics
“The benefits of omnichannel fulfillment for us are twofold. First, it allows us to reach more customers and expand our sales channels without investing in additional inventory or infrastructure. Second, it gives us the flexibility to change our fulfillment strategy if one inventory source becomes constrained or unavailable.”
Having multiple sources of inventory and shipping options ensures you have backups at the ready.
If one of them falls through, you can default to another without being late or interrupting sales—and your customers will be none the wiser.
You can expand your fulfillment methods based on the sales channels you want to run, which makes your logistics more robust.
For instance, if you have a physical store, you could leverage it as a distribution hub and fulfill orders within its reach.
Meanwhile, in-store and curbside pickup unlock sales in geographies your warehouses may not cover.
Another example of diversifying fulfillment is Amazon sellers using FBA to offer Prime badge shipping and let 3PLs take care of non-Amazon orders.
Unify your logistics assets
“You can use existing resources to deliver your product or service more cost-effectively, which makes it easier to offer more efficient services to your customers and enhance their satisfaction with your brand.”
Each location where you hold stock is a fulfillment asset, including your warehouses, retail stores, and partner warehouses.
An omnichannel fulfillment strategy harnesses all of them to unify and optimize every process, from deliveries to returns.
Improve the customer experience
“The main benefit we’ve realized from omnichannel fulfillment includes increased consumer satisfaction because customers can access our products conveniently using their most preferred channel.”
– Chris Roth, founder & CEO, Highline Wellness
In addition to more reliable on-time deliveries, omnichannel fulfillment gives your customers greater choice.
Shoppers may prefer to buy items online and pick them up in-store, or they may want to return an item at a pickup location instead of shipping it back.
Offering a multitude of delivery and return options results in a more satisfactory buyer experience.
In the long term, this produces loyal customers and strengthens your follower base.
Make your team happier
“The gains from improved customer service and experience have also had a tremendous impact on job satisfaction amongst our employees, which has also positively contributed to our company’s profitability and employee retention rates.”
– Chris Roth, founder & CEO, Highline Wellness
An unexpected benefit of implementing omnichannel fulfillment is a happier team.
A better buyer experience yields more satisfied customers, which creates more amicable interactions for employees at every internal buyer touch point.
“The main benefits we’ve realized from using an omnichannel fulfillment process include greater customer satisfaction, increased sales conversion rate by more than 400% over the past two years, reduced costs through automation and efficiency, as well as better marketing and branding opportunities.”
– Arthur Worsley, founder, The Art of Living
Naturally, alongside an improved shopping experience come more sales and conversions.
With each happy customer, you increase the likelihood of word-of-mouth marketing, positive reviews, and repeat sales.
Increase visibility into internal processes
“The benefits of omnichannel fulfillment are many, but some key benefits for us include…increased visibility into our inventory levels across all channels and locations, which helps us to avoid oversells and out-of-stock [and] the ability to dropship items that are not stocked in our warehouse reduces our need for capital and storage space.”
It should be a holistic system that can handle and manage returns seamlessly according to your policies.
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7 Omnichannel fulfillment software tools to streamline logistics
After reviewing the above considerations, it’s clear a comprehensive software or system that simplifies omnichannel fulfillment is essential.
To assist you in your search, we’ve listed a few tools that can do just that.
Linnworks’ software offers a complete suite of solutions to strengthen your omnichannel operations, including:
Insights and stock forecasting
The above components work cohesively thanks to integrations with a wide variety of sales channels, marketplaces, shipping carriers, and 3PLs.
It even automates and streamlines your workflows, allowing you to focus on properly managing your business.
Price: Unavailable on their website, must request a demo or contact Linnworks directly
Omnichannel fulfillment best practices & strategies
You’ve learned the essentials of omnichannel fulfillment.
Now, we’ll cover a few best practices to help you execute your strategy successfully. Some of these will and won’t apply, depending on your situation.
Invest in technology
This is to reiterate that spending resources on a robust ERP and omnichannel order management system will make omnichannel fulfillment much easier and more cohesive.
So, don’t be afraid to invest.
Some of the tools we’ve shown are all-in-one, end-to-end solutions covering everything from inventory to shipping management.
They even offer integrations for all your channels, warehouses, and existing systems, letting you consolidate every component of fulfillment.
Keep strategic processes in-house
This practice applies to larger enterprises that can support their own omnichannel fulfillment operations and facilities.
Keeping certain processes in-house, such as prep for low-margin items, helps you protect your revenue.
Other key elements, such as proprietary manufacturing secrets, help you maintain end-to-end traceability and visibility.
However, inventory storage can become an issue since, depending on how large your business grows, you may either exceed your capacity or fail to take full advantage of it.
Optimize omnichannel warehousing
Imagine your facility being the hub for not only your in-store and ecommerce goods but also the inventory for your B2B or wholesale customers—a true fulfillment center.
Unlike a typical warehouse where one is assigned to a single channel, an omnichannel warehouse fulfills customer orders from all your sales avenues, whether it’s online, brick-and-mortar, or other channels.
Each warehouse should be able to accommodate orders from any sales channel to optimize fulfillment and inventory spread.
Refine your order management systems
The primary objective of omnichannel order management is to meet customers where they are and when they’re in need.
It handles inventory, customer orders, returns, and data across every sales channel you run. It also includes proper order routing and store fulfillment.
Efficient omnichannel order management requires a software solution or system that conducts orders and provides insights for every point of sale—all of which are unified in a single point.
Master omnichannel fulfillment to grow your ecommerce brand
Optimized omnichannel fulfillment allows merchants to run more efficient processes, protect revenue, and reduce wasted time, inventory, and effort.
By understanding the benefits and challenges of omnichannel fulfillment, you can plan your logistics strategy based on your brand’s strengths and goals.
Use the tips and advice in this guide to master your omnichannel fulfillment strategy, so your brand leaves a lasting impression on your buyers and remains resilient (and profitable) for years to come.
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Rachel is a remote marketing manager with a background in building scalable content engines. She creates content that wins customers for B2B eCommerce companies like MyFBAPrep, Shogun, and more. In the past, she has scaled organic acquisition efforts for companies like Deliverr and Skubana.