Last year’s shifting consumer trends and massive e-commerce adoption have demonstrated that people are now shopping omnichannel. Brands have realized that the best approach to increase product awareness and conversions is to have a consistent inventory accessible online and offline.
Omnichannel order fulfillment is quickly becoming a must-have feature for retail stores as it views the entire inventory as a unified entity and utilizes it to fulfill orders from all channels from a centrally managed system. The strategy focuses on getting the customers to the retail business at the right time, in the right location, by offering a unified brand experience across all channels.
Omnichannel order fulfillment is when retailers integrate their stores, websites, virtual marketplaces, and warehouses to operate as one central mechanism. By making 100% of their inventory available to fulfill customer orders, brands can leverage their existing brick-and-mortar locations to provide a wide range of products and faster delivery to their customers.
For example, an order can be accepted online (buy channel). It can be transported directly from the warehouse to the retailer (fulfillment centre). Alternatively, the order is available for in-store pickup (brick and mortar store) or delivered directly to the customer.
Omnichannel order fulfillment helps retailers in business expansion and improves customer satisfaction due to:
Broader product availability
Customers can expect a wide variety of products of every fit, size and colour from a single retail brand. Even if they are shopping from their home, browsing the online store, or present in a physical store, the retail brand assures that every customer comes home happy and smiling because their orders are completed according to their preferences, without visiting a competitor's store.
Faster shipping at a lower cost
Using nearby distribution hubs or stores across the region allows customers to receive their products much faster at minimal shipping costs.
Flexible shopping options
Customers can enjoy flexible shopping options like shopping online, shop in-store and picking up in-store, and so on. The availability of many reachable shopping channels provides customers with the choices they desire, as per their location & convenience.
As retailers have complete details of the customer journey, they can provide customers with a tailored experience suiting their specific requirements based on past purchase history, shopping trends, and in-shop interactions.
Real-time inventory visibility
Real-time inventory allows customers to shop for products that may not be physically available in the stores. Customers can shop worry-free from any available channel in the omnichannel ecosystem. The unified live inventory gives a larger collection of products to choose from and helps retailers fulfill orders without hiccups from marketplaces, eCommerce stores & offline channels.
Customers who engage, interact and transact effortlessly in an omnichannel environment have a favourable opinion about retail businesses because they get to enjoy speed, flexibility, reliability & freedom to roam through different touchpoints while experiencing a never before shopping experience that plays by their demands.
These businesses are recognized as industry leaders because they actively listen to their customer's desires and preferences, thereby generating favourable bottom-line results through their customer-centric stance.
One key to winning customers in today's market is effectively managing all the touchpoints. Apple is an excellent example of the omnichannel brand offering convenient, contactless delivery, or buy online and pick up in a store. Customers can purchase in various ways, including in-store or curbside pickup, same-day delivery, or express storefront.
Always in touch
Viewed as a brand that is always in touch with its customers.
Buy products without any distinction between online and offline shopping
Omnichannel brands offer great user convenience – free shipping, 24 by 7 product availability, excellent quality & highly competitive pricing that gives them a clear edge over the competition.
Customers view omnichannel brands as a brand with limitless channels like physical stores, social media, display advertising, search engines, referral websites, email, mobile marketing & much more, that are used in business activities.
Understands customer behaviour
The omnichannel brands understand customer expectations and preferences much better through single view data of customers.
If you are an online retailer, shipping costs and inventory management can be a real pain. Fulfillment centres are expensive and time-consuming to build, maintain and expand. Stores can also act as a fulfillment centre in the omnichannel model. This way, retailers can hyperlocalise deliveries and save shipping costs.
If a brand previously relied on two warehouses to store and distribute e-commerce orders. It may eliminate its dependence on warehouses and supply goods from any store locations around the country.
For example, a consumer in Bangalore can order Zara products on the company's website and have the items delivered straight from the store's Bangalore location. As a result of Zara’s omnichannel approach, an order that could have taken five days to deliver, is received by the consumer in a single day.
Store fulfillment centers ensure orders are sent to the fulfillment location speedily with negligible shipping costs. By enabling local retailers to fulfill online orders, retail businesses can enter new markets more rapidly without the need for new local distribution facilities, warehouses, and shipping costs.
One of the primary reasons multichannel brands are moving their focus to omnichannel fulfillment is that it frees up the working capital, which is essential because sellers frequently face capital constraints when using several channels for order fulfillment.
If a brand limits its product offerings to specific channels, it also limits the financial resources available to improve other elements of its business. By making their inventory flexible and allowing customers to choose the sales channel in the omnichannel environment, brands remove the need to strategize which products would sell better on which platforms.
If your retail firm is still losing business possibilities due to insufficient customer orders, the time has come to implement omnichannel order fulfillment. It benefits businesses by increasing customer satisfaction, improving brand perception, reducing shipping and inventory costs, and much more.