The meteoric growth in the ecommerce market in recent years has brought on many changes, including placing an increasing importance on omnichannel shopping and fulfillment.
Omnichannel shopping allows customers to purchase what they want, when they want it, and however they want to receive it, ranging from brick-and-mortar storefronts to online stores and third-party operations such as Amazon and Etsy. Retailers with storefronts or other physical locations often use an omnichannel approach to take advantage of the rich potential of ecommerce in a strategic way that supports and reinforces their overall operation. In that way, omnichannel fulfillment has become a vital tool for both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) retailers.
Of course, building and managing a successful omnichannel fulfillment strategy is not as simple as just deciding to make it part of your operation. It’s a complex, rapidly evolving challenge that requires experienced and steadfast partners, such as warehouse and fulfillment provider PDC Fulfillment (a division of Distribution Technology, a third-party logistics provider based in Charlotte, North Carolina).
Here are some key characteristics about omnichannel shopping and fulfillment to understand.
Service across channels
Retailers strive for consistency in everything they do – from messaging to customer service. The more channels that they serve the more difficult it is to maintain that consistency. If one channel falls short or deviates from a company’s standards in any way, then it undermines the entire operation. That’s particularly true in the area of customer service, which plays a central role in how a company is perceived. For retailers to pursue an omnichannel approach, they need to be sure that they can maintain the level of customer service that they expect – and that their customers expect – across all channels. That covers everything from marketing and the ordering process to packaging, communications about your order, and delivery. Service will need to be tailored to each channel’s needs and demands, while maintaining a consistent through line of dedicated attentiveness, promptness, and accuracy.
Fulfillment across channels
Part of the challenge of offering omnichannel shopping is that omnichannel fulfillment is far from straightforward. Each channel has its own unique characteristics and demands, even when the products are the same. For instance, direct sales fulfillment places a premium on packaging and ecommerce demands efficient pick-and-pack services, while distribution for retail relies on complying with routing guides. In addition, rules routinely change across the channels, requiring a flexible, nimble fulfillment operation. All of this is occurring against the backdrop of a sometimes volatile supply chain environment that creates unpredictability. In those conditions, successful fulfillment relies heavily on strong inventory management and visibility, as well as forecasting and demand planning. Successful fulfillment in an omnichannel operation depends on attention to detail and versatility and the capabilities to adjust swiftly and agilely to changing conditions.
A unified approach with a skilled partner
Omnichannel fulfillment requires the capabilities to excel in managing the details of different sales channels with their own unique characteristics and demands. That means a warehouse and fulfillment provider can’t just excel in one channel – they need to excel in all of them. They need to have the infrastructure, equipment, technology, staff and other resources to support each channel, and they need to help you create and maintain a unified fulfillment and distribution operation that maintains stability and cohesion through all manners of challenges and ebbs and flows in demand. Reporting and a disciplined attention to key performance indicators are crucial to ensuring that the demands of each channel are being met.
With PDC Fulfillment as your partner, you can enjoy integrated logistics solutions as your business grows. Let us enhance your operation and accelerate your company’s growth with inventory storage capacity, processes that improve efficiency, and technology that enables innovation. For more information, contact us today.