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What is the Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Fulfillment?.

In the ever-evolving world of ecommerce, businesses are constantly seeking ways to optimize their order fulfillment processes. Two popular strategies that are often discussed are multichannel fulfillment and omnichannel fulfillment. While these terms may sound similar, they represent distinct approaches to managing inventory and order processing across various sales channels. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between multichannel and omnichannel fulfillment, their pros and cons, and how to choose the right strategy for your business.

What is Multichannel Fulfillment?

Multichannel fulfillment is an approach where each sales channel operates independently, maintaining separate inventories, order processing workflows, and delivery methods. Essentially, it treats each channel as a distinct entity. For instance, a business might use Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) to fulfill orders placed on Amazon’s platform, while handling orders placed on their own e-commerce website through a third-party logistics (3PL) provider or in-house fulfillment team. If the business has physical store locations, each location would also maintain its own inventory. If you take a multichannel approach to sales, your customers generally have a different brand experience depending on the sales channel.

Multi-Channel Fulfillment

How Does Multichannel Fulfillment Work?

In a multichannel fulfillment strategy, the focus is on leveraging different sales channels to reach a wider audience and provide customers with various options for purchasing products. Each channel is treated as a separate entity with its own inventory management and fulfillment processes. This approach allows businesses to tailor their sales and marketing strategies to each channel, taking advantage of the unique characteristics and customer preferences associated with each platform.

For example, a business may implement different marketing strategies on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, compared to their e-commerce website. Additionally, they may offer different promotions or discounts on specific channels to attract customers. As well, they may have different packaging or include different value add items (such as promotional inserts) to the final product that gets delivered to customers depending on each channel.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Multichannel Fulfillment

Multichannel fulfillment offers several advantages for businesses. One key advantage is the ability to reach a broader customer base through multiple sales channels, increasing brand visibility and potential sales opportunities. By catering to different customer segments on various platforms, businesses can enhance customer engagement and build brand loyalty.

However, multichannel fulfillment also comes with its challenges. Managing separate inventories for each sales channel can be complex and may require additional resources. It can also be difficult to maintain consistency in the customer experience across different channels, leading to potential inconsistencies in branding, pricing, and product information. Furthermore, tracking and measuring performance across multiple channels can be challenging without a centralized system. However partnering with the right 3PL, as we will discuss later in this article, can alleviate these challenges.

Counting Inventory

What is Omnichannel Fulfillment?

Omnichannel fulfillment takes a more holistic approach to inventory management and order processing. It aims to seamlessly integrate all sales channels into a single, unified system, providing a consistent and cohesive customer experience across all touchpoints. In an omnichannel strategy, there is a focus on customer-centricity and meeting customers’ expectations for a seamless shopping journey.

How Does Omnichannel Fulfillment Work?

Omnichannel fulfillment involves integrating all sales channels, such as e-commerce websites, mobile apps, physical stores, and social media platforms, into a unified system. The goal is to eliminate the boundaries between different channels and create a seamless experience for customers. This means that customers can start their shopping journey on one channel and seamlessly transition to another without any disruption.

For example, a customer may browse products on a brand’s e-commerce website, add items to their cart, and choose to complete the purchase in-store or have it shipped to their preferred location. This integration allows customers to have full control over how and where they receive their orders, enhancing convenience and flexibility.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Omnichannel Fulfillment

Omnichannel fulfillment offers numerous advantages for businesses striving to provide an exceptional customer experience. By integrating all sales channels, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers benefit from greater flexibility in how they browse, purchase, and return items. Additionally, an omnichannel approach allows businesses to develop a cohesive brand image and recognition across multiple channels.

However, implementing an effective omnichannel fulfillment strategy can be challenging. It requires significant investment in technology and infrastructure to create a seamless integration of inventory, order processing, and customer service across channels. Businesses may also need to restructure their organization to align with the demands of an omnichannel approach. Despite the challenges, the potential benefits of an omnichannel strategy can outweigh the drawbacks for businesses aiming to provide a superior customer experience.

Choosing the Right Strategy for Your Business

When deciding between multichannel and omnichannel fulfillment, it’s crucial to consider your business’s specific needs and capabilities. Evaluating factors such as resources, flexibility, and technical infrastructure can help guide your decision-making process.

If your business is just starting or has limited resources, a multichannel approach may be a more feasible option. This allows you to focus on optimizing specific sales channels and gradually expand your reach. However, keep in mind that consistency in the customer experience and branding across channels may require extra effort.

On the other hand, if your business is well-established and has the necessary resources and infrastructure, an omnichannel strategy can provide a more seamless and integrated customer experience. By investing in the technology and systems required for omnichannel fulfillment, you can create a unified shopping journey for your customers, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Third Party Logistics and Fulfillment Services

Managing fulfillment operations across multiple sales channels can be complex and time-consuming. This is where third-party logistics (3PL) providers come in. 3PLs specialize in managing the flow of goods from the point of origin to the point of consumption, offering a range of services such as warehousing, inventory management, order processing, and shipping.

Partnering with a reliable 3PL like SCI can help businesses streamline their fulfillment processes and navigate the challenges of multichannel or omnichannel strategies. These providers have the expertise and infrastructure to handle the complexities of managing inventory and order fulfillment across various sales channels. By outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL, businesses can focus on core customer expectations and leave the operations and logistics to the experts.

Third Party Logistics Fulfillment

How SCI can turn your multi-channel or omni-channel fulfillment strategy into a competitive advantage

In today’s consumer-driven landscape, timely and convenient product delivery is paramount. With SCI’s Order Management System (OMS), you get complete visibility of your inventory across your network. Whether you opt for an omni-channel, or multi-channel fulfillment strategy, you guarantee a reliable fulfillment experience to your customers.  Partnering with SCI empowers you to efficiently manage the complexities of your brand’s entire multi or omni-channel operation and ultimately provides a better, more seamless customer experience.

We work very closely with our clients to determine the best channel strategy for their business and operations. This can be a channel-specific acquisition strategy (multi-channel), or a channel-agnostic (omni-channel) experience. Some retailers prefer their customers to have different experiences across channels, while others wish to have the same experience for customers regardless of which channel they ship through. Our OMS helps our clients manage their fulfillment in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Whether your customers choose to ship to their home, to a store, or anywhere else in-between, our technology determines how, where, and when an order is fulfilled based on a set of established rules related to your overall customer experience strategy. The order is then efficiently delivered to your customer. You can also mix and match your strategy based on your different channels. Our OMS can accommodate both strategies under one centralized system.

SCI helps you stay competitive with a seamless order management solution that intelligently manages orders from inception to fulfillment, which reduces costs, facilitates timely delivery to your customers and ensures that you can always capture the sale.


In conclusion, the difference between multichannel and omnichannel fulfillment lies in the level of integration and customer-centricity. Multichannel fulfillment treats each sales channel as a separate entity, while omnichannel fulfillment aims to seamlessly integrate all channels into a unified system. Both approaches have their advantages and considerations, and the choice depends on factors such as resources, flexibility, and the desired customer experience.

Whether you opt for a multichannel or omnichannel strategy, partnering with a third-party logistics provider like SCI can help optimize your fulfillment operations and ensure a smooth customer journey. By leveraging the right strategy and logistics expertise, your business can thrive in today’s competitive e-commerce landscape.

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For non-Sales related inquires please call 1-888-755-1528.

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