ShipTop Fulfillment

The Ultimate Guide to OmniChannel Fulfillment 

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Table of Contents

Do you find your business struggling to keep up with ever-changing customer demands? Customers expect a seamless shopping experience, no matter how they choose to interact with your brand. They want to browse online, buy in-store, and receive their purchases quickly and conveniently. According to a report, 73% of US consumers expect to track their orders at all stages. With omnichannel fulfillment, retailers can sell products through various channels like online stores, mobile apps, brick-and-mortar stores, social media, marketplaces, and more. When a customer places an order, it is fulfilled from the same central inventory, regardless of which sales channel was used to purchase the item.

The goal of omnichannel fulfillment is to provide customers with a unified shopping experience by integrating processes and inventory across channels. Customers expect to be able to buy, pick up, or return a product through the channel that is most convenient for them.

What is Omnichannel Fulfillment?

Omnichannel fulfillment refers to the process of fulfilling orders across multiple sales channels and touchpoints in a unified manner. Instead of each channel having its own separate warehousing and fulfillment operations, omnichannel unifies inventory and order management across channels.

Key aspects of omnichannel fulfillment include:

  • Centralized inventory management
  • Seamless order fulfillment across channels  
  • Real-time inventory visibility across the retail ecosystem
  • Flexible fulfillment options like ship-to-home, in-store pickup, curbside pickup etc.
  • Integrated order management and tracking across channels

Omnichannel fulfillment requires an advanced order management proprietary solution that can track and allocate inventory, as well as process and fulfill orders in an integrated way. This gives retailers and brands the visibility and operational control needed to enable omnichannel capabilities at scale.

The result is a unified backend operation that provides customers with maximum choice, convenience, speed, and consistency when it comes to order fulfillment. Omnichannel fulfillment and customer management have proven to increase revenue of businesses by 9.5%

3 Benefits of Omnichannel Fulfillment

Omnichannel fulfillment provides numerous benefits for modern eCommerce businesses. By taking an omnichannel approach, companies can offer customers a seamless experience across all touchpoints and channels. 

Some key benefits include:

1. Seamless Customer Experience

Omnichannel fulfillment connects all sales channels into a unified experience. Customers can purchase, return, or exchange items through any channel such as online, in-store, mobile, or over the phone. Inventory and order data are synced in real-time, so customers always have an accurate view of stock levels. This creates a smooth, consistent experience regardless of how customers shop.

2. Increased Sales

An omnichannel strategy leads to higher sales in several ways. Allowing customers to purchase anytime, anywhere taps into new sales opportunities. Providing fulfillment options like buy online, and pick up in-store also improves convenience. With all channels integrated, customers can easily complete transactions rather than abandoning their carts. Omnichannel retailers typically see a sales boost of 10-30%.

3. Improved Efficiency  

Omnichannel fulfillment centralizes order management and inventory data. This single view of stock and orders allows for more efficient fulfillment. Orders can be dynamically routed to minimize costs and speed up delivery times. Out-of-stocks can be prevented by leveraging inventory across all channels. Automation further streamlines processes. This improved operational efficiency reduces overhead costs.

Challenges of Traditional Fulfillment

Traditional order fulfillment strategies tend to rely on siloed systems and fragmented processes. Orders come in through various channels and are fulfilled from separate warehouses or inventory pools. This lack of integration and visibility across channels results in:

1. Fragmented Processes

Without a connected system, orders must move manually between steps. This slows down order processing and allows more room for error. Employees must constantly switch between different software, spreadsheets, and paper systems to fulfill orders.

2. Lack of Visibility

Since inventory, order, and fulfillment data live in disparate systems, brands lose visibility across their operation. It becomes difficult to get a unified view of order and inventory status. Out-of-stocks, shipping errors, and delivery delays become harder to prevent.

3. Higher Costs

The lack of automation and integrated systems leads to more labor costs. Employees waste significant time moving between systems, fixing errors, and hunting down inventory. Expedited shipping and extra customer service are needed to resolve problems. Overall costs are higher than an integrated approach.

Omnichannel fulfillment technology provides the integration and visibility needed to solve these limitations of a fragmented fulfillment operation.

How Does Omnichannel Fulfillment Solve These Challenges?

Omnichannel fulfillment provides solutions for many of the challenges faced with traditional fulfillment methods by unifying processes, improving inventory visibility, and lowering costs.

1. Unified Processes

Omnichannel fulfillment connects all sales channels and inventory in one unified system. This allows orders to be processed and fulfilled from any location, via any channel, using one central workflow. There is complete visibility and coordination between brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce operations, warehouses, and more. This unified approach eliminates issues like overselling inventory or losing track of orders between siloed channels.

2. Improved Inventory Visibility  

With omnichannel fulfillment, inventory is synchronized and visible across the entire supply chain. Inventory levels and item information is updated in real time across all sales and fulfillment channels. This connectivity ensures items are not oversold and provides an accurate view of availability. Fulfillment locations can access the full product catalog and serve customers from the collective inventory pool.

3. Lower Costs

Omnichannel fulfillment maximizes operational efficiency by unifying inventory and order information. This eliminates redundant systems and manual efforts to keep channels in sync. Further cost savings come from tapping inventory closest to the customer for faster fulfillment. Overall costs are reduced by optimizing fulfillment routes and consolidating shipments. The enhanced visibility also reduces excess and obsolete inventory.

5 Key Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategies  

An effective omnichannel fulfillment strategy requires capabilities across several key areas:

1. Order Management System

A centralized order management system is essential for connecting all sales channels and maintaining a single view of inventory. This enables fulfillment from the optimal location and routes orders automatically based on rules and priorities.

2. Integrated Inventory

Omnichannel retailers must maintain full visibility and access to inventory across all fulfillment nodes, including stores, warehouses, drop-shippers and more. Inventory must be managed centrally rather than in silos.

3. Flexible Delivery Options

Providing customers with multiple delivery options such as in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and fast shipping allows retailers to meet diverse fulfillment needs. Inventory should be positioned to enable these flexible options.

4. Returns Management

An omnichannel returns process allows customers to return items however they received them by mail, in-store, by dropoff. This requires interconnected systems to handle returns efficiently.

5. Data Analytics

In-depth data analytics allows retailers to spot trends, optimize inventory placement, identify high-demand items, improve forecasting, and make other data-driven decisions that maximize omnichannel efficiency.

Read Also: Strategies to Tackle Inventory Glut for your eCommerce Business

How ShipTop Implements Omnichannel Fulfillment?

ShipTop is a leading Canadian fulfillment company offering customized omnichannel fulfillment solutions. Our innovative technology platform, combined with our extensive logistics network, enables us to expertly manage complex omnichannel fulfillment programs for eCommerce brands.

Our end-to-end omnichannel fulfillment services include:

1. Inventory management across multiple sales channels 

We seamlessly manage inventory stored in our  US and Canadian fulfillment centers and monitor stock levels across each sales channel in real-time. This provides a single source of truth for inventory across channels.

2. Order management and optimization 

As orders come in from various channels, our system automatically determines the most efficient way to fulfill them based on inventory location, promised delivery time, shipping method, and other factors. This enables excellent customer service alongside optimized operational efficiency.

3. Fast and accurate pick, pack, and ship operations 

We accurately fulfill orders with speed and precision at our fulfillment centers. Our quality assurance checks ensure each order meets our high standards before shipping out. All standard orders received by noon local warehouse time will be processed and shipped the same business day.

4. Returns processing and reverse logistics 

We handle product returns smoothly, process them at our facility, and channel the inventory back into our fulfillment network. Our warehouse will process and restock (if applicable) returns within 48 hours of receipt, ensuring a swift turnaround for inventory management.

5. Real-time tracking and status updates 

Our system integrates with various carrier APIs to provide customers and internal teams with real-time visibility into order status as it moves through our fulfillment network.

6. Analytics and reporting 

We provide analytics dashboards and detailed reports to help our clients gain insights, forecast demand, identify trends and opportunities, and continually improve their omnichannel operations.

Wrapping Up

Omnichannel fulfillment has revolutionized the retail and eCommerce landscape. By unifying inventory, order management, and fulfillment across channels, retailers can deliver seamless, consistent experiences to their customers.

An omnichannel fulfillment strategy can help retailers address common eCommerce challenges. 

With the expertise of an experienced 3PL like ShipTop, you can implement these best practices for your business. Our centralized warehouses, top-notch WMS, and nationwide omnichannel fulfillment network enable smooth omnichannel order processing.

Partner with us today to transform your fulfillment. Our team is ready to help you map an omnichannel strategy tailored to your operations and customers.

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