Omnichannel fulfillment in Asia-Pacific: The ins and outs

  • August 21, 2023
Logistics, warehouse manager and woman with tablet stock inventory, storage boxes and factory engineer.

Omnichannel fulfillment is an increasingly critical aspect of global retail, particularly in India and the greater Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The growth of ecommerce has retailers pursuing ways to offer integrated shopping experiences across multiple channels.

How big could the Asia-Pacific omnichannel market get?

According to a Research and Markets report, the India-Pacific region will be the fastest-growing omnichannel market between 2020 and 2025 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.8% during this period. China, Japan and India are set to be the primary movers of growth, and the Indian market alone is forecast to increase at a CAGR of 32.3% during the same period.

A Technavio report estimates omnichannel growth in India will increase by US$69.21 million between 2021 and 2025; CAGR is set to rise by over 16%. The report identifies smartphone penetration, increasing disposable incomes and the rise of ecommerce as the primary sources of growth.

What’s behind these forecast increases? APAC has distinct advantages in three areas that predict high levels of penetration. These include a high number of mobile internet subscriptions, a rising number of digital wallet users and the presence of a dominant ecommerce player.

Doing omnichannel fulfillment right

Offering an integrated shopping experience is the core of the omnichannel experience. That means paying attention to some critical elements of your fulfillment operations.

  • Inventory management. You need real-time views of your inventory — across every channel — to maintain appropriate stock levels and prevent stockouts. Your inventory management system (IMS) must integrate with the rest of your digital infrastructure to make sure you can provide accurate stock information to all channels.
  • Order management. A reliable order management system (OMS) is critical to processing orders quickly and accurately, regardless of channel. An effective OMS provides a centralized view of all orders and makes processing and tracking data available to you and your customers.
  • Customer service. Providing consistent customer service levels across all the channels you serve will go a long way toward offering seamless shopping. Tracking customer interactions will help you deliver personalized shopping experiences through comprehensive data integration.
  • Fulfillment. Fulfilling purchases at a consistent service level from all channels is crucial. Customers expect the same standard of delivery from your distribution centers (DCs), stores and third-party logistic providers (3PLs). This consistency requires the requisite infrastructure for efficient picking, packing and shipping at each point of origin.

Additional omnichannel fulfillment methods

Putting together an omnichannel fulfillment operation can be truly taxing. Working with a consultant provides enabling expertise that reduces the effort needed when deploying your omnichannel network. They bring processes and experience that’ll help you set up not only conventional ship-from-DC fulfillment but also options like the following:

  • Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). Provide your customers with the option of buying online and collecting their purchase at a conveniently located store. This popular fulfillment method combines online shopping with speedy pickup and reduces shipping costs.
  • Buy online, return in-store (BORIS). A counterpart to the BOPIS fulfillment choice, BORIS is a boon to the complications of reverse logistics. Customers can return purchases at any one of your locations, inexpensively delivering the product right back to you. With BORIS, you can quickly sell returns in-store or bulk-ship them with other returns to a suitable facility for processing.
  • Ship from store. Another cost-reducing possibility, shipping from nearby store locations, provides shipping cost savings for you and fast delivery for your customers. Geolocation technology, when connected to an IMS, finds the closest store with the specific item in stock and allows you to ship the order from there.
  • Drop shipping. This attractive option has your suppliers ship orders directly to your customers, so you don’t need to hold inventory. To make the process easier to manage, you should have a dedicated OMS in place at your supplier’s location.

Other enabling technologies

Along with an OMS and IMS, you need two additional software tools to properly handle your omnichannel fulfillment operation.

  • Warehouse management system (WMS). You’ll need a WMS to help oversee your warehousing activities and help optimize the efficiency of your warehouse layout, automate processes and reduce errors.
  • Transportation management system (TMS). A TMS will help with your shipping and transportation operations, including carrier selection, route optimization and freight auditing. Your TMS will help reduce shipping costs, improve delivery times and track shipments in real time.

Learn how an American pet supply retailer set up their omnichannel network.

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