PFC Outlook 2017: Why A Seamless Omnichannel Fulfillment Experience is a Must

omnichannel fulfillment diagram

By now, anyone familiar with the world of retail knows that the omnichannel shopping experience started picking up some serious steam a few years ago. And just like a hurricane swirling off the Atlantic coast this time of year, its presence has no doubt made an impact.

Multichannel Merchant says it perfectly – “Omnichannel fulfillment has thrown the proverbial wrench in the works of merchants of all sizes.” Through their in-store purchases, online purchases, mobile purchases and even purchases through Facebook and Instagram, consumers have more ways than ever to buy pretty much whatever they could possibly want or need. And whatever it is they’re buying, they want it fast. They also want their purchase to be accurate, with good quality and a fair price. So how are merchants making sure consumers get what they want, when they want it? For those that have yet to solidly establish their fulfillment capabilities, time is running out. It has become quite tough, if not impossible, to compete with those that already have a seamless experience in play. Many of the multi-channel merchants that are thriving have a third-party partner to thank.

There are certainly those big retailers like Walmart that handle their own product fulfillment, and do it well. But with the exception of those few big players, more and more retailers are looking to an outside partner because of the expertise they deliver in these key categories:

Accurate Inventory Management

An omnichannel partner, or at least a good one, has sophisticated systems that are designed to optimize inventory management for the merchant at every service level – an online purchase for home delivery, an online purchase for in-store delivery, a ship-from-store transaction, and so on. What this means for the merchant is better cost control, greater order accuracy and continuity of their daily inventory and warehouse operations.

There are other cost savings that come into play when a merchant chooses a third-party omnichannel fulfillment partner to manage their inventory. Many warehouse and inventory expenses are shared among all the merchants using the facility – from building rent and equipment to utilities and other overhead. Merchants also free themselves from the stress of hiring, training and managing their own warehouse employees.

Real-Time Reporting for All Channels

These days, it’s all about the big data and what can be learned from it in order to make a business run smarter and more profitably. And these days, the data is pouring in from all different channels. The thought of consolidating all of that multi-channel data into one reliable, accurate data stream is enough to keep any VP of operations awake at night.

Here’s where the capabilities of a third-party omnichannel partner can have a big impact. Most offer comprehensive reporting and analysis technologies that give merchants a view into the day-to-day, even minute-by-minute, purchases of their customers. It’s 24/7/365 data that is highly accurate, easily accessible and offers valuable insight that can make or break the success of the business.

Reduced Shipping Costs

No one knows the ins and outs of shipping better than third-party fulfillment providers. And no one can help a merchant reduce their shipping costs more than these providers can. Most providers allow a merchant to piggy back on their rates, meaning the merchant will benefit from the collective shipping volume of an entire warehouse.

A third-party provider also has the expertise needed to streamline your shipping process in other ways that will drive down rates. They may re-evaluate package size or shipping materials, and recommend changes that will deliver extra savings to the order fulfillment process.

It’s not too late to get a seamless omnichannel fulfillment experience in place for your business in 2017. Contact PFC today and we’ll get the conversation started.

Sources:
Multichannel Merchant: Operations Special Report
Business2Community: 10 Notable Omnichannel Trends and Statistics