What is the Future of Omnichannel Fulfillment?

What is the Future of Omnichannel Fulfillment?


Fulfillment is all about getting orders to customers. It includes warehousing, finding the items ordered, packing them, shipping them, handling inventory and managing returned goods. Omnichannel fulfillment is much more. It is the ability for retailers to fulfill orders out of their distribution centers, warehouses, manufacturing sites or stores. It also enables consumers to buy items online and pick them up in a store. Omnichannel fulfillment offers a seamless consumer experience regardless of the device or channel people use for shopping or returning items. 

Consumers are demanding more flexibility when it comes to online shopping and according to the comScore survey (UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper) released in March 2015: 

  • Mobile is a catalyst to omnichannel shopping and all retailers should address any technical limitations they may be facing 
  • Online shoppers are seeking alternative delivery locations together with additional payment options 
  • Free shipping is becoming an increasingly important requirement together with greater emphasis on free returns. 

Asia: Different Delivery Options 

Online shoppers in Asia are looking for different delivery options and 45% of respondents here say they would rather have their packages delivered to locations other than their home. 33% said they would like their orders shipped to a local retailer. Asian shoppers are keen technology users and 27% expect same-day delivery.

Brazil: Online Social Shopping 

Consumers here are the most advanced and social in their online shopping habits. 56% of purchases are made online, this is higher than other markets surveyed. And 64% said they are influenced by reviews on social media. However they do experience problems when using a mobile device: 39% cannot get a clear product image and 31% said they have difficulty viewing product information.

Europe: Less Online Purchases   

Online shoppers in Europe are embracing new technologies gradually. They make the lowest number of purchases on a smartphone (19%) compared to the other countries surveyed and only 40% use retailer mobile apps. They make more in-store purchases (54%) than they do online and 52% say they prefer to see the expected arrival date rather than the number of days it will take for their order to arrive.

Mexico: Parcel Delivery Issues 

Mexican shoppers reflect both the old and new environments. The highest number of in-store purchases are made here and people cite fraud related delivery issues as their main concern. Yet they do use mobile technology – 43% use their smartphones to research products before visiting a store but only 35% have returned an online purchase, the least of any market.

U.S.: Online Shopping with a Tablet 

Americans make more purchases on tablets than any other market and are open to new trends on social media and in-store technologies. Free shipping continues to drive purchasing as 58% of consumers reported adding items to their cart in order to take advantage of this incentive. In addition 83% are willing to wait an additional 2 days for free shipping and 68% confirmed that free return shipping is needed in order for them to complete a sale.

Parcel Pick Up at Parcel Lockers   

There is no doubt that fulfillment will continue to grow and the industry will see continued improvements in all levels of omnichannel software. The process is constantly being refined, as everyone is trying to apply it everywhere. The industry is filled with examples of how to gain the most 
value from it and provide the greatest level of service and build customer loyalty. Omnichannel is continuously changing, whether the customer is ordering from anywhere or being fulfilled from anywhere. Parcel lockers are a great example of this and they are very simple to use. They enable 
online shoppers - most of whom are working and on the move - to make the most of their time by having their parcels delivered to the self-service pick-up point of their choice, which can be accessed during extended time slots. Recipients are sent a unique pick-up code by e-mail or text message when their parcel is available. They then simply need to go to the parcel locker, enter the code on the terminal screen and the door opens automatically. This system also allows shoppers to return purchases made online, easily and in less than a minute.

In-Store Fulfillment Centers 

Omnichannel is an ideal opportunity for brands to get closer to their customers and when they use the right shipping software this can boost revenue. Looking ahead, it is highly likely that retailers will start to build fulfillment centers within their stores. This will change the way in which retailers operate. And as for consumers, they’ll be much happier, as they’ll get their packages much cheaper and faster.

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