Omnichannel Fulfilment Guide

Omnichannel Fulfilment Guide

As more businesses take the leap towards omnichannel fulfilment, it becomes more important to deepen our understanding of what it is and how it works. This is because in order to implement it successfully, a brand is required to rethink its whole strategy – and that can only be done if you have a sufficient understanding of what omnichannel fulfilment is to begin with. 

And to help you with that, we have created the perfect guide! In this blog, we will help you navigate all the aspects of omnichannel fulfilment and hence, prepare you to deal with the challenge of bringing it to the centre of your business a lot more confidently. 

So, without further delays, let’s dive right in. 

What is Omnichannel Fulfilment?

First things first, let’s have a look at what omnichannel fulfilment is. In simple words, it is a process that involves picking, packing, and shipping orders for not just one sales channel, but multiple. These sales channels can range from brick-and-mortar stores to a digital shop and may even include online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, AliBaba, and many more websites. 

When making an effort to understand what omnichannel fulfilment is, it is important to draw a distinction between multi-channel fulfilment and omnichannel fulfillment. Although also used to serve multiple channels, multi-channel fulfilment involves a demarcation between all the processes. For example, the inventory and order management for each channel is different and aligned with that particular channel only. 

Omnichannel fulfilment can be a part of your business in many forms. For example, it can take place in warehouses and fulfilment centres, but it can also be carried out in-store or be a part of something like warehouse-to-alternative pick up location as well. 

On the other hand, omnichannel fulfilment is more targeted towards integrating and amalgamating processes for all the channels together, and making sure that everything aligns with each other as smoothly as possible. 

Omnichannel selling is a dynamic experience that allows businesses to reach out to a wider audience, boost their sales, and create a stronger place for themselves in their respective industries.

Omnichannel Retail: What to Expect

When moving towards omnichannel retail, there are quite a few things you need to prepare yourself for. However, first and foremost, you need to understand that it is a challenging, quite demanding experience and as such, requires a lot of effort and attention. 

Omnichannel fulfilment is nothing like ordinary fulfilment. In this process, the stakes are considerably higher, an increased number of elements is involved, and you have to invest more resources as well as energy. 

Yet, to say that it is impossible to do this wouldn’t be right! The challenges presented to you in this regard can be tackled quite easily – given that you know what they are in advance. 

Which is precisely why this list of challenges will help you deal with omnichannel fulfilment in a much more advanced manner. 

Challenge 1: Streamlining order management

One of the biggest challenges of achieving successful fulfilment is streamlining order management. If your order management is efficient and advanced enough, you can give way to a smooth and profitable setup for sales on every channel. However, since multiple channels are involved, it can be quite hard to make sure that the order taking and processing mechanisms associated with every channel are smooth and seamless. 

Many businesses are prone to ineffective order management, which also leads to increased possibility of back orders, unsatisfied customers, and even an increase in the costs you incur. For this reason, this is quite a concerning challenge for businesses.

Challenge 2: Achieving inventory visibility

A high-functioning inventory is the backbone of a successful omnichannel fulfilment experience. However, in order for your inventory to actually be high-functioning, you have to achieve inventory visibility. This proves to be quite difficult for businesses as they struggle to actually be up-to-date with the inventory at all times; which creates a lag in inventory management and hence, may slow down your overall omnichannel fulfilment efforts. 

Challenge 3: Optimising warehouse space

Another area that can present a challenge to businesses in regards to omnichannel fulfilment is organising warehouse space. In order to enable the ideal flow for omnichannel fulfilment, it is important to make sure that your warehouse space is set in accordance with the goals of your omnichannel strategy, and sometimes it can be hard to do this. 

Of course, you need to work on making your warehouse omnichannel-friendly from scratch, and it can be challenging when you consider that you have to move away from some processes and rearrange elements that have been a part of your business for years – and this is the transition that most businesses struggle to make, although it is necessary. 

Challenge 4: Getting extra help

Although it is quite convenient to achieve seamless fulfilment for a single channel without extra help, this is simply not the case for omnichannel fulfilment. Omnichannel efficiency may require you to add value-added services, like 3PL or 4PL support for some elements of your fulfilment experience. The challenge in this arises when businesses don’t have enough resources to get this help. 

Even those who do have the resources and can make the required investment may not know which 3PL is the best for their purposes; and for them, the challenge is to choose help that can actually make a contribution towards their omnichannel success strategy. 

Challenge 5: Handle returns and exchanges

It is hard to handle returns and exchanges as it is, but handling returns and exchanges as a part of the fulfilment experience is even more challenging as it requires dealing with an increased amount of products. Reverse logistics, therefore, is quite a hard area in the world of omnichannel fulfilment, which is why it turns out to be more challenging than businesses often expect it to be at first. 

When you consider that each sales channel probably has its own return policy and the return and exchange process that takes place for your orders must align with these policies specifically. 

Challenge 6: Maintaining customer interactions

The whole point of omnichannel fulfilment is to get more customers onboard. However, getting more customers on board means having to deal with more customers too! As such, handling customer queries and satisfying all customers equally, regardless of what channel you are serving them on, can be quite a hard goal to achieve. 

So, in a way, omnichannel fulfilment is not only about handling back end logistics, but also maintaining customer interactions and ensuring that everything is going well even at the forefront of your process.

Challenge 7: Being in access to the right integrations

Omnichannel fulfilment is dependent on advanced integrations between not only all the different channels you are catering to, but also different departments of the business. In order for this to take place, you have to get your hands on the right integrations. A few that could help you would be eCommerce integrations, carrier integrations, and marketplace integrations. Making these a part of your business could really help you get the extra edge you need to achieve success in the area of omnichannel fulfilment. 

What are the Advantages of Omnichannel Fulfilment? 

As mentioned above, we understand that omnichannel fulfilment can be challenging. However, we will always encourage businesses to take the leap and actually get to – considering that it can give you benefits that will actually improve your strategy and make it way more profitable. 

Here is a list of benefits that working on omnichannel fulfilment can help you achieve:

It boosts your revenue and sales 

Since you are catering to a wider audience with omnichannel selling, perfecting omnichannel fulfilment can actually help you boost your revenue and sales. So, if, as a business, dwindling numbers on your revenue report are bringing you down, all you have to do is turn your attention towards omnichannel fulfilment. Omnichannel fulfilment will put your business out there, attract more people, which obviously means more sales and a better revenue. Omnichannel fulfilment, if done the right way, can also help you cut back on the money wasted on rectifying mistakes and making improvements – all of which can make your strategy a lot more successful.

It allows accurate inventory control

The more in control you are of your inventory, the better it can work in your favour. When you are working towards achieving the ideal omnichannel fulfilment experience, you have to be in touch with your inventory. This allows for more accurate inventory control, which puts you in a better position to identify lags and shortcomings beforehand, and take steps to minimise their impact on your operations. This way, you can ensure that your inventory processes are in optimal condition and that it continues being a contributive part of your overall strategy. 

It enhances customer satisfaction and improves customer retention

When you provide customers with good services and great quality products on not just one channel but every channel, you are essentially giving way to increased customer satisfaction. Increased customer satisfaction is a great way to improve your brand image in front of all your customers. It can also help you improve customer retention: the happier your customers are, the longer they will stay with you and the more you can focus on developing the right relationship with them. For this reason, omnichannel fulfilment is necessary if you want to improve your customer retention and make your brand a customer-favourite without putting in a lot of effort.

It establishes stronger brand perception

As a brand, you are only as good as your customers consider and perceive you to be. For this reason, you have to work on giving off the right brand perception. When fulfilling orders on a single channel, it can be quite hard to give effect to this. On the other hand, if you are focusing on omnichannel fulfilment, you can more easily impress your customers and hence, improve your brand image on multiple channels rather than only one. Because of this, it is almost always easier for omnichannel brands to win over clients and outtake their competitors – and that should be a reason enough for you to consider going omnichannel today!

It gives you a better insight into your progress

When you are focusing on omnichannel fulfilment, you are automatically more attuned to your activity. This means you are in a much better position to judge how well you are doing as a business, and where you stand. As such, omnichannel fulfilment gives you a better insight into your progress and hence strengthens your view of your operations. Due to this, you have a clearer idea of what changes you need to make in order for things to be executed perfectly, and most businesses would agree that this kind of leverage helps them achieve the best of the best. 

When all these benefits are introduced to your fulfilment strategy, it will become even better and put you in a considerably stronger position in front of your customers. 

Top 5 Tips for Omnichannel Fulfilment

Does omnichannel fulfilment sound tricky to you? We don’t blame you, because it definitely can be a little tricky to perfect. Between streamlining major fulfilment processes and making sure your customers are fully satisfied with all your efforts, it can be hard to make sure you are moving in the right direction in regards to omnichannel fulfilment. 

However, we have picked out these top 5 tips for omnichannel fulfilment that will help you improve your strategy and make sure that you are not unnecessarily struggling to bring the perfect fulfilment experience to your operations.

Make sure you break down silos between channels

If there are any hindrances that restrict interconnection between all your channels, you can simply not achieve omnichannel perfection. Any silos that do this will also cause delays in your order processing capabilities, which can seriously dent your brand image in the customer’s eyes. 

Therefore, it is indubitably important for businesses to work on promoting collaboration and interconnection between different channels that you deal with. For example, if your eBay order processing should be connected to your Amazon order processing as well, this would allow you to keep a count of the total orders you are completing and avoid any inventory related problems.

Prioritise communication between all departments

Working towards omnichannel success not only means connecting different sales channels together, but it also means enabling communication and interconnection between all the different departments of your business. So, you have to make sure that there is a clear line of communication between sales, marketing, logistics, and shipping departments. The more interconnected these departments are, the more easily you can ensure that your fulfilment strategy is fit enough for omnichannel processing. 

This is also the best way to speed up omnichannel fulfilment, and speed is an important element in terms of ensuring that you are on the right track with your omnichannel efforts. 

Leave no channel behind

Again: the whole point of omnichannel fulfilment is to cater to different channels together. As such, it would be better to make sure that you actually don’t leave any channel behind. Try to break out of your comfort-zone and tackle as many channels as you can. Don’t limit yourself to Amazon and eBay; get out there and try to sell your products on every channel that will have you. 

It may sound like it’s a little too much, but when you have the right omnichannel fulfilment set up in place, you can very easily tackle multiple channels together – which again, will only be beneficial for your business! 

Streamline and strengthen inventory management, order processing, and shipment

You have to work on all fulfilment processes in order for your omnichannel fulfilment to be successful as a whole. Therefore, you have to streamline and strengthen inventory management, order processing, and shipment. It is only when all three of these are operating seamlessly that you can expect success on the omnichannel side. 

Remember; omnichannel fulfilment means dealing with an increased order volume, and in order to support that without having to deal with any problems along the way, you have strengthened all the relevant processes.

Work towards an integrated approach 

Without integration, omnichannel fulfilment is simply not possible. If you weren’t prioritising an integrated approach earlier, now is the time you start doing that, especially if you are a business that is keen on solidifying its omnichannel success. 

There are quite a few ways you can achieve integration in your fulfilment experience; however, the best is getting a software system that provides you with top-notch integrations. For example, a warehouse management system that connects you to ERP systems, courier programs, and even eCommerce platforms will help you make sure that not only the back end of your business is streamlined, but also that you are achieving a considerably high level of efficiency on the front end of your business as well. 

Achieving Perfect Omnichannel Fulfilment with Canary7

The right tools and technology can really do wonders for your retail strategy, and we are sure that you definitely know that by now. 

If you really want to achieve success in omnichannel fulfilment, you have to integrate an advanced software solution that can help you with streamlining all the required aspects of your experience. Not only that, you must look for an option that also provides you with a large range of integrations, so that you can make sure that you are not leaving any stone unturned with your omnichannel fulfilment efforts. 

In this regard, there is no better option than Canary7. Not only is Canary7 the perfect omnichannel fulfilment software, it is also the best way to connect the back end of your business with the other solutions. As such, Canary7’s fulfilment capabilities offer you the chance to actually work on bringing a greater level of integration to your business, and making it a lot more advanced on multiple levels. 

Not convinced? Why don’t you check us out and see if we are the right fit for you or not!

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