What Is Omnichannel Fulfillment?

The rise of the digital revolution has brought the connected and empowered consumer. With mobile devices and internet access at their fingertips, shoppers are no longer limited to where, when and how they make their purchases. In addition, with eCommerce tycoons such as Amazon making two-day shipping the norm, immediacy is no longer just a preference - it’s expected.

This change in consumer demand means online retailers have had to adapt to maintain their competitive advantage. In response, omnichannel retail has become the new solution for brands looking to meet their customers where they are, providing the best user experience possible. Now shoppers can make the same purchase across multiple platforms, whether that be at brick-and-mortar locations or through eCommerce such as websites, marketplaces, apps and more. 

However, the need for omnichannel fulfillment comes with the introduction of omnichannel retail. This type of logistics and strategy is necessary to complete for the product to reach the end consumer successfully.

What Is Omnichannel Fulfillment?

Omnichannel fulfillment is the process of executing delivery orders across multiple sales channels, including different store locations and via eCommerce platforms. While many may be familiar with multichannel fulfillment, where orders are placed and fulfilled independently of one another, omnichannel fulfillment is different as it’s connected and integrated across all channels via a fulfillment centre.

The omnichannel fulfillment process consists of these five steps:

  1. Storage, warehousing and inventory management

  2. Order processing and confirmation

  3. Picking, packing and kitting 

  4. Shipping, delivery and returns

  5. Customer care and communication post-sale 

Essentially, a customer can order from anywhere and receive their order from anywhere due to the multiple available inventory sources. There are a variety of combinations where omnichannel fulfillment happens. Some commons examples of order fulfillment include: 

  • Ship from store

  • Ship to store (for in-store pick-up)

  • Ship from 3PL 

  • Ship from warehouse

  • Ship to pick-up outlets

The possibilities are truly endless, which is what makes omnichannel fulfillment such a powerful strategy for both businesses and consumers.

What Are the Benefits of Omnichannel Fulfillment?

Omnichannel fulfillment is the next phase in the retail experience for many reasons. This robust ecosystem of accessible inventory has revolutionized the process in which businesses operate, offering the following benefits:

Customer satisfaction and retention. The beauty of omnichannel fulfillment is that it creates a seamless experience for the user. As an ecommerce business, omnichannel fulfillment puts the power back into the hands of the consumer. Instead of the product or the brand being the focus, the customer is. It provides shoppers with flexibility and convenience, leading to a positive experience that will have them choosing your brand over the competitors every time.

Improved order accuracy. Multiple channels connected into one organized strategy mean less room for errors, higher operational efficiency, and an overall more streamlined process.

Stronger brand identity. Having an eCommerce brand that takes advantage of multiple retail channels gives the perception of a business that wants to please the preferences of its customers. Plus, by expanding across various avenues for distribution, your business is covering more ground and reaching a large audience of potential buyers.

What Are the Challenges Faced With Omnichannel Fulfillment?

There are two main challenges that companies such as eCommerce businesses must deal with when it comes to omnichannel fulfillment.

1. Difficulty Managing Inventory Across Channels

Juggling inventory levels across multiple channels can lead to confusion and incorrect numbers. That’s why it’s so crucial for inventory data to be synchronized to be accurate and consistent. Failure to do so can lead to unhappy customers not being able to receive their orders, poor visibility into inventory in transit, and extra costs due to errors.  

Avoiding siloed organization of channels allows for better warehouse management and transparency in performance metrics so you can flag inventory running low and make the most informed decisions for your business.

2. Expensive and Time-Consuming to Operate Without Help

Since omnichannel fulfillment requires the collaboration of numerous sales channels, inventory sources and fulfilment locations, it requires significant people and processes to run smoothly.

For an eCommerce business attempting to be its own logistics provider, the right equipment, technology, staffing and space (ie. renting a warehouse) are needed. The time and cost put into labour and resources required to keep the fulfillment services on track can be a massive burden for a company to handle independently.

How A 3PL Provider Can Help You With Omnichannel Fulfillment 

Are you looking to incorporate omnichannel fulfillment into your small or medium e-commerce business strategy?

With the help of a full-service third-party logistics (3PL) provider like Envoy Warehousing & Logistics, we have the team, expertise, and infrastructure to handle the whole omnichannel fulfillment process for you.

With years of providing accurate and flexible order fulfillment services to Canadian businesses and US business shipping to Canada, we offer guidance and assistance at every step.

Contact us today or get a quote to learn more about how Envoy can help you get back to focusing on your business.

Have a question about our pricing? We offer cost-effective and transparent pricing.

Call: 1-905-831-0006