Inventory management for omnichannel fashion and lifestyle brands

Inventory management for omnichannel fashion and lifestyle brands

24 April 2024  |  Innovation & Technology

So, you’ve decided to take your brand from digital-only to omnichannel. Good move! There are certainly many benefits, but don’t underestimate the challenges. One of the biggest is undoubtedly managing inventory across multiple channels. That’s because the more channels you operate, the more streams of stock you need to manage – which can lead to problems if you don’t have efficient strategies are not in place.

Omnichannel brands ship to a number of different physical locations in addition to direct-to-consumer (D2C) fulfilment. These may include mono-brand stores, wholesalers or department stores. And while shipping to all these different channels adds complexity to the picture, the right third-party logistics (3PL) provider can help streamline your journey to omnichannel success. In many cases, it’s even possible to fulfil all your orders for a large region (such as the whole of Europe) from a single distribution centre. But this requires a sophisticated suite of integrated digital systems to make it work.

What is an OMS and why do you need it?

One of the key systems needed to efficiently track stock across both physical and digital channels is an order management system (OMS). An OMS is a centralised digital platform that gives you a detailed overview by collecting all data out of supporting IT platforms (WMS -Warehouse, TMS- Transport, RP- Returns and D2C – Online retail stores). It understands the entire order processing workflow, from order creation to fulfilment. Its main function is to accurately track orders – both outbound and inbound – giving you real-time updates on the location of all your inventory. It also keeps you up to date on stock levels, providing full supply chain visibility.

What are the benefits of an OMS for omnichannel logistics?

An OMS is valuable from a customer experience perspective because it tells us exactly how much of each SKU there is in a client’s different locations, whether it’s a warehouse or a store. This helps brands to intelligently allocate stock across different sales channels, preventing out-of-stocks in popular channels and overstocking in less active ones. This can help reduce carrying costs and ensure products are available when and where they are needed.

The OMS also helps to reduce order processing errors by automating order entry and validation processes. The result is faster order fulfilment and a more consistent customer experience. An OMS can also interface with the TMS (Transport Management System), the IT systems of third-party carriers, allowing you to provide shoppers with real-time order tracking and improve customer satisfaction. An OMS can also facilitate a smooth returns process by automating returns requests, enabling full visibility of the returned inventory, and helping to process refunds or exchanges promptly. This ensures that stock gets back into circulation as quickly as possible.

Regulatory compliance is another area where an OMS can be useful. The fashion industry often faces complex compliance and regulatory requirements, such as tracing the origin of materials or ensuring product safety. An OMS can help automate and streamline compliance processes. And as fashion brands grow, an OMS can scale in line with their business: new sales channels, warehouses, or distribution centres can be easily integrated into the system.

Looking ahead, the smart way

Many OMS solutions also include demand forecasting algorithms. These algorithms analyse historical sales data and market trends to predict future demand. This helps fashion companies plan production and purchasing more efficiently. With an OMS, you can also capture and share valuable data and reports that can help inform business decisions. Fashion companies can use this to examine sales trends, customer behaviour, and inventory turnover rates to make informed decisions about product assortments and marketing strategies.


So, while adopting an omnichannel business model undoubtedly adds complexity from a fulfilment perspective, an effective and well-integrated OMS provides clarity and simplicity. In summary, an OMS is an invaluable tool for the fashion and Lifestyle industry, offering benefits such as efficient order processing, optimised inventory management, and improved customer satisfaction. It helps fashion companies adapt to the dynamic nature of the industry, minimise costs, and make data-driven decisions to stay competitive.

That’s why, when choosing a third-party logistics (3PL) solution, it’s important to ensure that the provider can meet your OMS needs. It should take into account the different sales channels you use so that it can help you provide a seamless customer experience – whether shoppers are ordering online or going into a physical store to pick out an item.

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Dorota Tankink
Dorota Tankink

Marketing & Communication Manager

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