Omnichannel Fulfillment: The Key to Success in 2024

Today’s consumers demand a seamless and convenient shopping experience, regardless of whether they browse online, visit a physical store, or use a mobile app. Omnichannel fulfillment has emerged as a critical strategy for businesses to meet these evolving demands. 

According to a 2023 MicKinsey report, 73% of consumers now use multiple channels to research and make purchases. 

Omnichannel fulfillment does not only offer multiple fulfillment options, it requires a strategic approach that integrates inventory management, order processing, and fulfillment execution across all sales channels. 

Omnichannel Fulfillment

What is Omnichannel Fulfillment?

Omnichannel fulfillment services refer to a holistic strategy for managing and fulfilling customer customer orders across various sales channels, both online and offline. 

This includes online marketplaces (like Amazon), a brand;s own website, and brick-and-mortar stores. It ensures a seamless customer experience regardless of where the purchase originates. 

Multichannel vs Omnichannel Fullfilment

Multi Channel fulfillment involves fulfilling orders from different sales channels, but these channels often operate in silos.

Inventory management systems for each channel may not be integrated, leading to discrepancies in stock levels. Orders may be processed separately, as a customer who has purchased online might not be able to easily return an item to a physical store, for example. 

In contrast, omni channel fulfillment provides a unified view of inventory across all channels. A single inventory pool ensures that stock levels are always accurate and up-to-date. 

An order management system (OMS) aggregates orders from various channels and routes them to the optimal fulfillment location, based on factors such as stock availability and proximity to the customer. This streamlines order processing and fulfillment, leading to faster delivery times and a more consistent customer experience. 

How Does Omni Channel Order Fulflilment Work

A robust omni-channel fulfillment strategy typically involves the following steps: 

  1. Centralized Inventory Management: Maintain a single inventory pool accessible by all sales channels, ensuring real-time stock visibility and prevent overselling. 
  2. Order Management System (OMS): Implement an OMS to streamline order processing. This system aggregates orders from various channels, automates tasks, and facilitates efficient order routing to the optimal fulfillment location. 
  3. Fulfillment Network: Use a network of warehouses or fulfillment centers strategically located to minimize delivery times and costs. This may include in-house facilities, third-party logistics providers (3PLS), or a hybrid approach. 
  4. Flexible Fulfillment Options: Offer a variety of fulfillment options to cater to customer preferences, such as buy online, pick up in–store (BOPIS), same-day delivery, and ship-from-store. 
  5. Real-time Order Tracking: Provide customers with real-time order tracking capabilities for increased transparency and improved customer satisfaction. 

Benefits and Challenges of Omnichannel Fulfillment

Amazon Omnichannel fulfillment empowers customers with convenience and flexibility, fostering loyalty and repeat business. Offering a wider range of fulfillment options can attract a broader customer base and drive sales growth. 

Centralized inventory control minimizes stockouts, reduces carrying costs, and optimizes inventory allocation. 

Streamlined workflows through an OMS lead to faster order processing and quicker deliveries. 

Challenges of Omnichannel Fulfillment

Implementing an omnichannel fulfillment strategy often requires investment in technology, infrastructure, and potentially additional warehouse space. 

Managing a complex network and integrating various systems can be challenging. Ensuring data accuracy and security across different platforms is necessary to avoid any security breaches. 

Top Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategies

Implementing a successful omnichannel fulfillment strategy requires a multi-pronged approach. Here are some key strategies to consider: 

Invest in an Order Management System (OMS)

An OMS acts as the central nervous system of your omnichannel order fulfillment operation. It aggregates orders from all sales channels (online marketplaces, website, physical stores), automates tasks like order routing and picking, and provides real-time visibility into inventory levels and order status, streamlining order processing, minimizing errors, and ensuring faster fulfillment times. 

Centralized Inventory Management

Maintaining a single inventory pool with real-time data across all sales channels is critical. This eliminates the risk of overselling and ensures accurate stock levels. 

Invest in an inventory management system (IMS) that integrates with your OMS and provides real-time updates. 

Use forecasting tools to anticipate demand fluctuations and ensure optimal inventory allocation across warehouses and fulfillment centers. 

Use a Fulfillment Options

Strategically locate your fulfillment operations to minimize delivery times and costs. Consider a hybrid approach that leverages a combination of in-house warehouses, strategically located fulfillment centers, and partnerships with third-party logistics providers (3PLs). 

3PLs can offer scalability and expertise in managing high-volume fulfillment operations. Evaluate factors like proximity to customer base, warehouse capacity, and fulfillment capabilities when selecting fulfillment locations. 

Omnichannel Fulflilment Software

Several software solutions can empower businesses to effectively manage omnichannel fulfillment: 

Order Management Systems (OMS): As mentioned earlier, an OMS is the cornerstone of omnichannel fulfillment. It integrates with various platforms (e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, point-of-sale systems) and automates order processing workflows. 

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): A WMS optimizes warehouse operations by managing inventory control, picking, and packing processes, and warehouse space utilization. It integrates with your OMS to ensure efficient order fulfillment within the warehouse. 

Inventory Management Systems (IMS): An IMS provides real-time inventory visibility across all sales channels and fulfillment locations. It helps with forecasting demand, managing stock levels and preventing stockouts. 

Shipping Management Systems (SMS): An SMS streamlines the shipping process by integrating with various carriers, automating shipping label generation, and managing shipping costs. 

How to Scale Omnichannel Fulfillment?

Building a scalable omnichannel fulfillment strategy is necessary for adapting to business growth: 

Implement a robust OMS and integrate it with your existing systems. Establish a centralized inventory management system and secure partnerships with reliable fulfillment providers. 

Design your fulfillment strategy to accommodate future growth. Consider scalable fulfillment solutions like 3PL partnerships that can expand warehouse capacity and fulfillment capabilities as your business grows. 

Continuously evaluate and invest in emerging technologies that can optimize your fulfillment operations. Explore automation solutions for picking and packing, and consider warehouse management systems with built-in scalability features. 

Use data analytics to gain insights into customer behavior, identity trends in order fulfillment, and optimize your fulfillment strategy based on real-time data. 

How to Get Started with Omnichannel Fulfillment?

Here’s a roadmap to guide you: 

  1. Evaluate your current fulfillment capabilities and identify areas for improvement. Consider factors like your order volume, product range, target customer base, and budget. 
  2. Define your omnichannel fulfillment goals. Align your strategy with your overall business objectives and customer expectations. Here are some key questions to consider:
    1. Which fulfillment options will you offer (BOPIS, same-day delivery, etc.)? 
    2. What is your target delivery timeframe? 
    3. What is your budget for implementing omnichannel fulfillment?
  3. Evaluate and invest in the necessary technology solutions, such as an OMS, WMS, and IMS. Ensure these systems integrate seamlessly with your existing ecommerce platform, point-of-sale system, and any marketplace integrations you use. 
  4. Determine your fulfillment network strategy. Will you leverage in-house warehouses, partner with 3PLs, or adopt a hybrid approach? Consider factors like fulfillment costs, warehouse locations, and scalability needs. 
  5. Establish standardized processes for order processing, picking, and packing, inventory management, and returns across all channels. This ensures consistency and efficiency in your fulfillment operations.
  6. If you plan to outsource fulfillment to a 3PL, carefully select a partner with a proven track record in omnichannel fulfillment and experience in your industry. 
  7. Implement your chosen technology solutions and provide comprehensive training to your staff on the new processes and systems. 
  8. Thoroughly test your omnichannel fulfillment operation before launching. Continuously monitor performance metrics like order fulfillment times, inventory accuracy, and customer satisfaction. Make adjustments as needed to optimize your strategy. 

Omnichannel Fulfillment FAQ

What is omnichannel fulfillment in retail? 

Omnichannel fulfillment in retail refers to a holistic approach for managing and fulfilling customer orders across various sales channels, both online and offline. This includes online marketplaces, a brand’s website, and brick-and-mortar stores, ensuring a seamless customer experience regardless of where the purchase originates. 

What’s the difference between omnichannel and multichannel fulfillment? 

Multi Channel fulfillment involves fulfilling orders from different sales channels, but these channels often operate in silos. Inventory and order processing systems may not be integrated, leading to discrepancies and a disjointed customer experience. 

Omnichannel fulfillment, on the other hand, provides a unified view of inventory and order processing across all channels. This streamlines fulfillment, reduces errors, and enhances the customer experience. 

Can you outsource omnichannel fulfillment to a 3PL? 


Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) can be valuable partners in implementing and managing omnichannel fulfillment. They offer expertise in warehouse management, order fulfillment, and transportation services. 

Many 3PLs specialize in omnichannel fulfillment and can provide a scalable solution that adapts to your business needs. 

Is omnichannel fulfillment worth it for enterprise retailers?

It’s practically essential for enterprise retailers. 

It empowers businesses to meet evolving customer expectations, improve operational efficiency, and gain a competitive advantage. 

By offering a seamless and convenient shopping experience across all channels, omnichannel fulfillment can lead to increased sales, customer satisfaction, and brand loyalty.