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 fulfillment is the way to go, as it’s the only way to maximize the amount of customers you reach while making your operations and fulfillment processes more efficient.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at what omnichannel fulfillment is, what benefits it offers to your business, and what an omnichannel fulfillment strategy looks like in practice.
In this article
What is omnichannel fulfillment?
Omnichannel fulfillment 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 fulfillment 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 fulfillment strategy requires multiple pieces of software and APIs working together to create a single inventory and fulfillment 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 fulfillment
We’ve already touched on a few benefits of omnichannel fulflilment, but let’s delve into them in more detail here.
An omnichannel fulfillment strategy makes the end-to-end fulfillment 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 fulfillment 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 fulfillment, and it’s far easier to address issues and continuously optimize an omnichannel fulfillment strategy. Quick and accurate fulflilment creates a fantastic customer experience.
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.
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Going down the route of omnichannel fulfillment 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.
A modern omnichannel fulfillment platform will provide you real-time inventory updates and order tracking. This gives you total clarity over what’s happening in the fulfillment process, provides peace-of-mind, and lets you make decisions on the fly in real-time.
How omnichannel fulfillment works in practice
Omnichannel fulfillment 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 fulfillment 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 fulfillment strategy is to choose a tech-enabled fulfillment 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 fulfillment centers.
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 fulfillment solution, you’ll then be able to integrate your channels with their fulfillment 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 fulfillment center
Once you’re all set up, it’s time to ship your inventory to your chosen fulfillment center. 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 you 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 fulfillment 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 fulfillment companies also offer returns management services.
With omnichannel fulfillment 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 fulfillment 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. Read our guide on warehouse inventory management for more information.
You’ll also be able to see which channels are doing well, and which might need a bit more time spent on them.
Interested in omnichannel fulfillment?
At James and James, we’ll help you take your omnichannel fulfillment 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 fulfillment is a great move for your business, and your customers.
Want to learn more about omnichannel fulfillment? Get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat!