2014; Verhoef et al., 2015). Sales for the online channel continue to grow rapidly, while foot
traffic has become stagnant or is declining among many brick-and-mortar stores (Sorescu
et al., 2011). Indeed, during calendar year 2017, approximately 7,000 US brick-and-mortar
stores closed, and iconic merchandisers such as JC Penney, Kmart, Macy’s, Radio Shack and
Sears each closed more than 100 stores (Thomas, 2017).
Retailers initially adapted to these disruptive channel developments by developing
multichannel marketing, fulfillment and delivery strategies (Agatz et al., 2008; Rigby, 2011;
Christensenand Raynor, 2013). To this end, companies typicallyestablished online fulfillment
operations thatwere autonomous from their brick-and-mortar operations.This often included
separate and distinct order fulfillment capabilities for each channel, which resulted in
dedicated storage facilities for each channel as well as inventory and other fulfillment assets
that were committed to a specific channel (Frazier, 1999; Swaminathan and Tayur, 2003).
Within the past 15 years, some retailers began to refine their multichannel capabilities to
focus on so-called “omnichannel”capabilities. Briefly, an omnichannel experience allows a
customer to order from multiple platforms (omnichannel retailing) andthe order can be filled
from any location using inventory and other fulfillment assets flexibly across channels
(omnichannel fulfillment). Conceptually, omnichannel capabilities provide a seamless
shopping experience where th e distinctions between brick- and-mortar and online
operations become immaterial (Ishfaq et al., 2016; Galipoglu et al., 2018). The grocery
industry was among the earliest to experiment with an omnichannel capability by
implementing a buy-online-ship-from-store (BOSS) option for customers (De Koster, 2002;
Boyer and Hult, 2006). One consequence of companies developing their omnichannel
fulfillment strategies is a realization that tying fulfillment assets to particular channels
increases inefficiency in terms of managing logistics costs and service.
In response to these changes in the retail environment, interest in omnichannel
fulfillment has been increasing and academic articles focusing on the fulfillment and
inventory aspects of omnichannel have become more plentiful in recent years. As such, we
propose that the omnichannel fulfillment literature has developed sufficiently to justify a
comprehensive analysis by means of a systematic literature review (SLR) of omnichannel
fulfillment strategies. In addition, given the dynamic state of the concept, having a clear
understanding of where academic inquiry has been provides a valuable platform to examine
where inquiry should go moving forward. More specifically, the manuscript addresses the
following research questions:
RQ1. What is the definition of omnichannel fulfillment strategies?
RQ2. What has been studied regarding omnichannel fulfillment and inventory usage?
RQ3. What are the future opportunities regarding omnichannel fulfillment strategies
We believe that addressing these questions can make multiple contributions to the
literature; for one, the manuscript provides a detailed and comprehensive definition of the
term “omnichannel fulfillment strategy”that can be used to guide a focus on fulfillment-
related research within the broader omnichannel literature. The manuscript also adds to the
emerging body of SLRs in the logistics and supply chain management (SCM) discipline (e.g.
Galipoglu et al., 2018; Friday et al., 2018). Moreover, consistent with Burgess et al.’s (2006)
seminal research on SLRs in SCM, the present manuscript can facilitate conceptual and
theoretical development by identifying promising avenues for future inquiry.
During the review process, three literature review manuscripts were identified as
pertaining to omnichannel fulfillment (Table I). Beck and Rygl (2015) and Galipoglu et al.
(2018) concentrate primarily on the general concept of omnichannel. Melacini et al. (2018)
identifies network design, capacity management, delivery planning and execution as main