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Omnichannel Fulfillment: Embracing the Cutting Edge of Logistics
Omnichannel Fulfillment: Embracing the Cutting Edge of Logistics
February 2, 2024
Written in collaboration with EasyPost Enterprise

elcome to 2024 – a new year of possibility. As we shake off the new year’s confetti and ramp up the first quarter, we can say one thing with confidence: we are only scratching the surface of what the next decade holds for logistics. With industry advancements populating our social feeds every day, the 24-hour news cycle may need to work overtime. The subject of this news includes companies both steeped in history and living on the cutting edge of it, pioneering advancement in several areas, including omnichannel fulfillment.

The term omnichannel is thrown around quite frequently – evoking a tone of flexibility and interconnectedness that we can appreciate in theory. However, when we place omnichannel in front of the term fulfillment, something much more tangible happens.

What is omnichannel fulfillment?
Omnichannel fulfillment strategy is a connected and seamless shopping and distribution experience across all channels including, in store, online, ecommerce sites, social media platforms, mobile, and more. Omnichannel should not be confused with multichannel fulfillment, which uses multiple independently operating channels to fulfill orders. In contrast, an omnichannel model is a unified experience with inventory information flowing between interconnected channels. Let’s use the example of purchasing a pair of shoes as a holiday gift:

Accompanied by friends, a mall shopper tries on a pair of shoes that they have been looking at online. This is a phenomenon called showrooming, in which a shopper is using the store location as a trial opportunity, though they may purchase via ecommerce. Having left the store empty-handed and the shoes never making an appearance at social gatherings, the group inquires about their friend’s luck finding the perfect pair. “If the store had the color I was eyeing, I would have been able to decide,” they respond. Seeing a gift opportunity, the group does their own digital canvassing, revealing a small store chain with inventory on hand. When the shoes weren’t available for pick-up nearby (referred to as a stockout), one friend could have volunteered to make the short, 132.5-mile trip to the nearest pair. Fortunately, the retailer employs omnichannel fulfillment, allowing access to its complete chain of stores, and leverages the one outside of Denver, Colorado to get the order fulfilled. Curbside pickup and a quick trim of wrapping paper later, the perfect holiday gift is ready.

The narrative above approaches omnichannel fulfillment as beneficial to the end consumer at various touch points, namely through availability, speed, and convenience. To put it simply, thanks to a seamless flow of information, the retailer had access to inventory throughout its fleet of stores to fill the order. The benefits of implementing an omnichannel strategy for this retail chain is clear. If we apply the situation to a peak season scenario—where convenience is king and shoppers seem to multiply exponentially—the strategy is even more compelling.

Benefits of omnichannel fulfillment
Reflecting on the heightened volume of transactions during peak season, what are the implications of embracing omnichannel fulfillment in your organization’s supply chain? To highlight a few benefits:

  1. Customer retention: Customers are gained and retained through the flexibility to purchase and receive the product in the manner that best suits their needs. Whether shipped to their home, bought online and picked up in a store (BOPIS), or even purchased on site, this expansion of options is why businesses employing omnichannel fulfillment have seen increased sales.

  2. Supply chain visibility: Visibility is achieved as a requirement to strategically access distribution centers and stores, and it can be leveraged to optimize other areas of the value chain. It will enable you to streamline your operations, forecast more accurately, and optimize every aspect of your supply chain.

  3. Reduced stockouts: An efficient distribution network lowers the likelihood of inventory stockouts. To further optimize their real estate, many organizations use a singular distribution center to fulfill e-commerce orders and to replenish stores. Others ship from the warehouse to store for pickup, and still others pick orders from store inventory to pack and deliver. Whatever the method that works best for you, an omnichannel model that gives you access to inventory across all your locations will ensure higher product availability for your customers.

  4. Lower costs: Cost reduction is realized during the pre-shipment process as organizations discover the best routes from shelf to consumer. Cost is decreased during the post-purchase experience, thanks to returns being accepted at a variety of points in the seller’s network.

  5. Growth opportunity: These benefits can be substantial, especially for digitally native companies (those that began online) when expanding to brick-and-mortar locations. Adopting an omnichannel fulfillment strategy will enhance your market reach and customer engagement.

Moving toward omnichannel fulfillment is all about creating a cohesive experience for your customers, but it can also be more efficient and cost effective for your business. If you are considering the transition, make sure you have the right resources in place and consult with experts to plan your roadmap.

Achieving omnichannel success
How does an organization achieve such levels of effectiveness across market channels? The first step may well be finding a technology solution that can help. As technology partners, EasyPost and ConnectShip are amongst those organizations both steeped in history and living on the cutting edge of it. Multi-carrier support and the associated features that make your entire logistics operation run smoothly can all be found in our leading products that will help you achieve omnichannel success:

  • Manage multiple locations from a centralized location with cloud-enabled software.

  • Integrate with leading e-commerce and business systems so data flows smoothly.

  • Access the carriers that best suit your needs with an in-depth portfolio of carrier support.

  • Customize business logic to ensure your decision rules are accounted for.

  • Process large shipping volume with sub-second shipment throughput.

  • Track parcels and uncover errors with real-time tracking.

  • Tap into the data from all your transactional systems to find actionable insights.

In summary, we encourage you to take a moment to learn how omnichannel fulfillment, supported by leading shipping software, can optimize operations during peak, or any time of year. Your customers and your bottom line will thank you.

EasyPost Enterprise
EasyPost is a technology leader that provides innovative solutions to today’s shipping challenges for retailers, ecommerce brands, fulfillment providers, and online marketplaces. Leveraging a best-in-class shipping API, on-premise or private cloud shipping solution, data analytics dashboard, and consulting services, EasyPost’s suite of offerings is unparalleled in the industry. The modern multi-carrier shipping platform removes the technical complexities of logistics to make shipping more simple, efficient, reliable and sustainable.

Since 1980, ConnectShip has developed, maintained, and supported comprehensive multi-carrier shipping technology. We establish relationships with major, national, international, and regional carriers to ensure consistent compliance for our customers. Our solutions can be integrated into ERP, transportation, and warehouse management systems or leveraged in the cloud, scaling to fit customer growth and global expansion goals. With decades of experience, ConnectShip enables customers across industries and volumes to meet their transportation and logistics needs. In short, we are technology moving commerce.

Ludwig Dischner III, MA, PMP
Marketing & Commercial Project Analyst ~ ConnectShip
Ludwig is an integral piece of the team, communicating logistics solutions to a wide range of audiences and improving ConnectShip's project direction. Ludwig holds a master’s degree in strategic communication and in project management from the University of Oklahoma, after graduating from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor's degree in business marketing. He also maintains his PMP certification.