Omnichannel retail fulfillment operations have become the next big “thing” for e-commerce merchants of all sizes. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, where so much of the purchasing economy moved online due to quarantine restrictions shutting down shops, customers have become more and more accustomed to the conveniences of free 2-day shipping and excellent customer service. This rise of e-commerce during these unprecedented times has the positive effect of giving the industry a much-needed breath of fresh air, but makes it all that much harder for your average seller to meet these steadily-climbing demands and goals. Omnichannel fulfillment has become not only an option, but an absolute necessity in order for merchants to compete.
But what is omnichannel fulfillment, and why is it important? How does it work? Read on to inform yourself with informational tools that will help you grow your business.
To put it simply, omnichannel fulfillment (and order and inventory management) is a fulfillment strategy wherein businesses use multiple selling channels to distribute and fulfill customer orders, regardless of which channel an order is placed through. Picking, packing, and shipping orders from multiple channels is no small feat. Instead of having only one inventory base to think about, merchants have to be extra careful to make sure that they don’t accidentally oversell their inventory. If a seller has 100 pieces of inventory across three separate channels, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that they could sell out in all three, overselling their actual stock by 200 units! But if you allocate inventory equally, having 33 units in each store, one may sell out quicker than the others.
Thankfully, modern omnichannel warehousing and order fulfillment strategy allows for SKUs from multiple channels to be synchronized in order to prevent this sort of happenstance. Numbers are logged and reported in real time so that nothing is overlooked. No matter how customers wish to make a purchase, whether on your brand’s website or on a large e-commerce marketplace platform, inventory is accessed through one centralized channel to avoid overselling.
From there, no matter where the customer orders from, the order goes to one centralized database. After scanning the location of the final delivery, the software can make an executive decision as to which warehouse or retail location to ship out of in order to ensure maximum efficiency in the distribution process. Rather than shipping to the customer from one centralized location, which may add precious hours or days onto delivery time that modern businesses simply don’t have to spare, the AI can check whether there are products at a retail or storage location closer to the customer. Merchants can even offer BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) or curbside pickup options to the discerning customer, who can then have their goods in hand even quicker than it would take to ship, as these options usually only take a couple of hours in processing time at most.
All this convenience, however, means very little if a seller is left in the dark as to what’s going on. Raw numbers are all very well and good, but can be difficult to understand for anyone aside from an economist or mathematician. For an omnichannel support software to be truly excellent, graphics, explanations, and real-time updates must be provided to the end user. Thankfully, most top software companies offer this feature and many others, so the merchant or seller using them can always inform themselves about how much inventory they have left and which channels are selling the most.
A merchant may be asking themselves why they would bother with setting up and integrating yet another tool into their logistics operations. The truth is, we live in a post-Amazon and post-Covid world. Customers no longer have any tolerance for products with heavy delays in shipping. They get frustrated even if a product takes longer than two or three days to arrive at their door. And because of the e-commerce boom in 2020 due to the global pandemic, widespread changes have been forced across the industry. The bar has been raised for everyone, all at once. The vast majority of successful e-commerce sellers are either offering or implementing this service already.
In conclusion, the implementation of this technology can help you sell more, keep better track of your inventory and metrics, and improve efficiency in the distribution and delivery of your products to the customer’s door. As customers are increasingly steepening their expectations, omnichannel fulfillment is increasingly becoming the way of the future when it comes to material handling through multiple sales channels. The e-commerce revolution is knocking on the door, so to speak, and forward-thinking companies are jumping over themselves to answer it. One of the most important parts of staying competitive is informing yourself about trends within the industry, and without a doubt, this is a major one that will no doubt stick around for the foreseeable future.
That’s the basics, the whys and hows, of this exciting new form of e-commerce distribution. If omnichannel fulfillment is something that interests you and your company, P2Pseller is proud to offer full and seamless integration with a number of multi-channel management programs. It takes only a few clicks to register an account, and then a few more to connect your favorite tools with your P2Pseller account, all with zero stress and zero phone calls. Register your account today and check out the full catalog of top-tier integrations we provide!