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It can feel like there are endless possibilities when it comes to selling online, with dozens upon dozens of channels to sell your products through. However, for eCommerce businesses looking to grow, omnichannel fulfilment is the way to go, as it’s the only way to maximise the amount of customers you reach while making your operations and fulfilment processes more efficient.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at what omnichannel fulfilment is, what benefits it offers to your business, and what an omnichannel fulfilment strategy looks like in practice.

Defining omnichannel fulfilment

Omnichannel fulfilment is when businesses sell and fulfil products through a variety of different shopping channels, rather than just one. All channels and inventory are then integrated into a single, streamlined system that allows stock across all channels to be managed – and orders to be fulfilled – from one platform.

eCommerce businesses that use an omnichannel fulfilment platform will have their orders picked, packed, and shipped by a single 3PL provider regardless of which channel the order was placed through.

An omnichannel fulfilment strategy requires multiple pieces of software and APIs working together to create a single inventory and fulfilment funnel. This will usually involve multiple eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon, Shopify, and eBay, all integrated into a single Inventory Management System. This allows an eCommerce business to track and fulfil orders as though it was a single channel.

The benefits of omnichannel fulfilment

We’ve already touched on a few benefits of omnichannel fulfilment, but let’s delve into them in more detail here.

Improves efficiency

An omnichannel fulfilment strategy makes the end-to-end fulfilment process more efficient. Having everything connected to and accessible via one platform makes actions and decision-making far easier on your end.

Similarly, having all of your orders connected to a single fulfilment platform makes picking, packing, and shipping orders more accurate, consistent, and quicker.

Better customer service

If you use a variety of eCommerce platforms independently, it creates far more variables for things to go wrong. If orders take too long to process or aren’t correct when they arrive at their destination, your customers aren’t going to be happy.

It’s easier to get things right with omnichannel fulfilment, and it’s far easier to address issues and continuously optimise an omnichannel fulfilment strategy. Quick and accurate fulfilment creates a fantastic customer experience.

Streamlines data

A conventional multi-channel approach requires you to have multiple different dashboards open at the same time, trying to make sense of large amounts of data presented in a multitude of different ways. This makes data analysis far more difficult than it needs to be.

Going down the route of omnichannel fulfilment gives you access to a single dashboard that automatically pulls data from all connected channels, and presents it in a seamless, accessible way.

Increases brand awareness

The more channels you sell on, the more eyes will be browsing your products. This isn’t just great from a sales perspective, but also gives you businesses much more credibility. 

If users keep seeing your products pop up across a variety of channels, they’re more likely to think that you are the real deal.

Live updates

A modern omnichannel fulfilment platform will provide you real-time inventory updates and order tracking. This gives you total clarity over what’s happening in the fulfilment process, provides peace-of-mind, and lets you make decisions on the fly in real-time.

The challenges of omnichannel fulfilment

While there are many benefits to omnichannel fulfilment, it does also come with some limitations. So it’s important to consider the following when adding it to your fulfilment operations and online sales channels. 

Lack of inventory visibility 

With omnichannel order fulfilment, one of the biggest challenges is the lack of inventory visibility. It’s important to understand your company’s inventory position in order to get your online orders out efficiently and meet consumer expectations. 

To have a successful omnichannel fulfilment process, you should use an optimised warehouse management system. This can help you to conduct demand planning and ensure you have the right amount of inventory in your fulfilment centres. 

Speed of delivery 

Another limitation of the omnichannel fulfilment model is having a slow speed of delivery for customer orders. Having a slow or unreliable order fulfilment process can highly affect the customer experience – as delays in shipping is extremely frustrating. 

To prevent this, you should have the relevant supply chain technology in place. James and James can assist you with this, from our award-winning order management system to our automated parcel sorter. As a 3PL fulfilment company, we can streamline order processing or store inventory at one of our international fulfilment centres. 

Alternatively, you can meet customer demand by offering click-and-collect to any physical stores you have. This helps both you and your consumer, as you efficiently fulfil orders and your customers can receive their orders sooner. 

Difficulty building an omnichannel strategy alone

Omnichannel fulfilment strategies can be challenging to set up, especially if you don’t have the infrastructure, like many brick and mortar retailers. This is especially true if you’re running an eCommerce business that doesn’t have enough warehouse space or the latest inventory management software.

This is where it’s useful to outsource omnichannel fulfilment to a 3PL partner, such as James and James. We can help you improve customer communication, streamline your omnichannel fulfilment methods, and assist your supply chain management.

How omnichannel fulfilment works in practice

Omnichannel fulfilment is great because once you’ve set everything up, there’s very little else you need to do. Let’s take a look at what a typical omnichannel fulfilment strategy looks like. We’re assuming you’ve already got your products set up on a bunch of different channels.

Choose a 3PL provider

The first thing to do in any omnichannel fulfilment strategy is to choose a tech-enabled fulfilment provider, like James and James Fulfilment. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make, as you’ll be putting a lot of trust in their hands.

At James and James, our platform integrates with all channels (we can do custom APIs, too), and you can place your stock at any one of our international fulfilment centres.

Thanks to the continuous finetuning of our processes, we ship 98% of orders same-day, with 99.999% accuracy.

Integrate your channels

Once you’ve chosen a 3PL provider that can offer an omnichannel fulfilment solution, you’ll then be able to integrate your multiple channels with their fulfilment platform. This process will likely be a little different depending on your 3PL, but they will be able to assist you with the setup.

At James and James, dozens of our supported channels can be set up in just a few clicks, and our Client Support team will guide you through the set up as part of our Onboarding process.

Send your inventory to the fulfilment centre

Once you’re all set up, it’s time to ship your inventory to your chosen fulfilment centre. You may choose to keep all of your stock in one place, or, if your 3PL provider has multiple facilities, you can store the optimal amount of stock at each location.

For example, half of your customers might be in the US, and half in the UK. Therefore, it would make sense to send half of your stock to a US site, and keep half of it in the UK. Tactically placing stock helps you stay competitive by reducing shipping costs and delivery times.

Let the fulfilment take care of itself

Once your goods are stored and ready to be sold, you can hand over the baton to your 3PL. They will pick, pack, and ship your orders on your behalf, and many fulfilment companies also offer returns management services.

With omnichannel fulfilment taken care of, you have more time and energy to spend growing your business, networking, marketing, sourcing new products and partners, and so on.

Manage your inventory

Use your 3PL provider’s fulfilment platform to manage your inventories. Inventory management is a vital part of running your business, as you need to strike a balance between making sure there’s enough stock to meet demand while not overpaying for storage you don’t need.

It’s useful to have the necessary warehouse inventory management in place. This will help you to be able to see which channels are doing well, and which might need a bit more time spent on them.

Interested in omnichannel fulfilment?

At James and James, we’ll help you take your omnichannel fulfilment strategy to the next level. It doesn’t matter which selling channel you use, or how many. 

Our award-winning software, ControlPort, seamlessly integrates with all your channels and lets you manage them in one, convenient place. We’ll take care of everything, from storing your items safely, and then picking, packing, and shipping your orders when they start flying in. 

We’ll even handle returns, too. With 99.9% order accuracy and 98% of orders shipping same-day, trusting James and James with your omnichannel fulfilment is a great move for your business, and your customers.

Want to learn more about omnichannel fulfilment process? Get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat!


What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel fulfilment? 

The difference between doing fulfilment on multiple selling channels and on an omnichannel level is mainly due to integration. Multichannel retailing is when you use both a physical store and a website to sell your products. For example, you might use 3PLs or Amazon to fulfil your orders, as well as from your own business.

Omnichannel fulfilment is a more simplified and cohesive method, where you manage one sales inventory and the order fulfilment process is the same, no matter where your customer ordered it from. 

Why is omnichannel fulfilment used? 

Omnichannel fulfilment is used by eCommerce businesses to simplify their order fulfilment process, while reaching more customers across several sales channels. It helps companies with fulfilment optimisation and increase customer satisfaction with timely delivery.

Can you increase sales with omnichannel retail fulfilment? 

Yes, you can increase sales with omnichannel order fulfilment. Whether you opt to add click-and-collect to meet customer expectations or streamline your inventory visibility, there are loads of ways to boost your sales via omnichannel fulfilment strategies. 

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