Last Updated on January 21, 2022

It has been more than five years since the buzz Omnichannel has arisen, but it still got confused with Multichannel when we discuss in retail marketing. Many people believe that the terms Omnichannel and Multichannel means the same thing. The reason for this confusion is obvious; both have multiple channels that businesses can use to communicate with their customers. However, there are many important differences between these two terminologies and that we would be discussing in this article. Let’s begin by discussing the definitions of each.

What is Omnichannel?

In the omnichannel commerce approach, the aim is to provide a holistic and integrated customer experience. In this approach, there is an underlying assumption that most of the customer will engage with a brand by multiple channels before making a buying decision. “All channels” revolves around the customer for creating a unified customer experience.

What is Multichannel?

In the multichannel commerce approach, there are choices given to the customers of the channel they prefer to engage in. It’s flexible but expects brands to behave in the confines of the channel. You can suppose a multichannel with like a wheel of spokes. At the center is your product, while on the outer rim, there is a customer who has an equal opportunity for different channels to reach the product. In comparison to the omnichannel, multichannel has less level of personalization. The channels can be a print ad, a retail store, a website, a promotional event, a product’s package, or a word of mouth.

Differences between Multichannel and Omnichannel eCommerce

1. Customer vs. Channel

The multi-channel approach focuses on spreading the message of your brand across all channels to attain the maximum possible customer engagements. The most utilized channels in this strategy are e-mails and social media.

On the other side, the Omnichannel approach focuses on customer attention instead of focusing on the number of channels to expand the reach or engagement. Its aim is to deliver an overall personalized customer experience by integrating it to all channels.

2. Consistency

As Omnichannel aims to provide better customer experience, it brought another difference i.e. consistency. Omnichannel makes ensures that the customer receives the same level of personalized customer experience every time through every channel. While in the multichannel, there are many different channels involved which can cause confusion and not a consistent experience. This often makes customers feel frustrated.

With consistency, you achieve a better brand image, a sense of trust, familiarity, and it also improves the relationship with the brand. Retailers who are leveraging an omnichannel strategy must make sure that every channel should be on the same page while conveying their message to the customer.

3. Personalization

The multi-channel approach just spread the message to the customer so that they will make an action. Omnichannel also does the same thing but it also put efforts to know the customer in a better manner. It collects data from the customers to know about them and pinpoint areas that require more efforts for delivering the desired customer experience.

For an easy understanding of differences, let’s go through these scenarios.

Multichannel

  • A customer P visits the company’s P website, check the products, and make note of a particular product.
  • The customer then went to the local retail store of the company, so to purchase the chosen item in person.
  • However, the customer wasn’t able to locate the item in-store, and while reaching on service representative, he finds that the item he is looking for is not in stock.
  • Customer P got disappointed and went home empty-handed.

Omnichannel

  • A customer X visits the company’s X e-commerce website, check the products, and find the product he was looking for.
  • The item is listed in-stock at the company’s local retail spot, therefore, customer X adds that item into his online wishlist and went to the retailer.
  • Once inside, customer X is greeted by a service representative who is using a tablet for accessing the customer’s wishlist and immediately find the product.
  • Customer X then finalizes the purchase like always and went home after a complete shopping experience.

As you can observe, in the first scenario, the customers can engage with the brand in many different ways but don’t get a satisfying experience. In fact, the customer gets frustrated when leaving empty-handed or get any other disappointing experience.

While in the second scenario, the customer was completely satisfied. All touchpoints and engagements are part of a centralized experience for the customer. There are almost no chances of confusion, miscommunication, misinformation, or any other problem.

Real Examples of OmniChannel by Retailers

Here are some of the companies that are using the Omnichannel approach for improving their sales and providing a better customer experience to the users.

1. Nike

NikeNike is a perfect epitome of using omnichannel for driving up their sales and improving the customer experience. The company uses personalized recommendations and meshing with in-person retail. Each navigation of the customer journey aims to improve customer experience. The company has seen great results with digital revenue growth of nearly 35%.

2. Disney

walt disneyDisney starts their journey by first creating a community and content, then start using that created a loyal community. They launched products appealing to the community and also start selling through wholesale partnerships. Obviously, that complete path led them to their current success.

3. Starbucks

StarbucksThe coffee giant Starbucks began using omnichannel funnels for driving new customers and increasing customer loyalty. The working of the funnel is like this:

  • A customer will go to a store after seeing an advertisement, e-mail, etc.
  • The customer will find the item, add to the cart, make an order, and checkout instantly, taking a complete experience.
  • The purchase by them will sign-up them for a newsletter and other promotional emails mentioning new discounts and offers in the stores.
  • After using a couple of those coupons, the customer is prompted to join their rewards program, which has even more discounts and makes checkouts even easier.
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Why is Omnichannel marketing is better than Multichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing ensures a seamless experience for customers. The shoes they have seen on the mail are the same ones they view on Instagram, or at the store. It is consistent, device-agnostic, and most importantly, customized based on the browsing behavior.

Other things to consider:

1. Nearly one-third of online purchases are done over multiple devices

Many customers in today’s world, start checking out their product from one device and ends up ordering it on another device. Like they may initiate to look their favorite pair of shoes on mobile while traveling and can make an order from their laptop after reaching office. This array of modern technology formats, along with the accessibility of store locations shows that the products are just a few taps away. Digital channels, devices, and distance no longer dictate purchase behavior.

2. Digital devices dominate even in-store sales

As per a study, nearly 56% of all brick-and-mortar transactions are now made digitally. Also, a growing number of smart customers choose to check the product on the web and then pick up from the physical locations. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, “39% of shoppers plan to use BOPUS (buy online, pickup in-store) option, up from 32% in 2015.”

3. High Lifetime Value due to the use of multiple channels

Shoppers who use more multiple channels to buy product delivers a higher lifetime value than those who use just one. The more you understand your customers and their needs, the better you can shepherd them through their shopping journey. When a customer checks the product through multiple channels say social media, e-mail, Instagram, etc. the more likely he’ll able to convert and not just once, but many times.

When to choose for Omnichannel?

Omnichannel strategy for marketing and sales is not a cakewalk but an intensive and complex process. While opting for this strategy, you must check a few prerequisites:

Know your customers

You should what are the needs of your customer, along with their preferences. Try to use analytical data, customer feedback, and social listening tools, and examine your customer behavior both online and offline.

Ramp up your tech

Smart technology is the key need for the successful implementation of the omnichannel approach. For an intuitive, streamlined, and personalized experience, the sales and customer management system should have the capacity to adapt to the customer’s preferences and other contextual aspects of their journey.

Invest in sophisticated software

Choosing a system that enables streamlined workflows is essential to putting omnichannel commerce into practice.

Factors to decide omnichannel or multichannel

While deciding omnichannel or multichannel, there are two important factors you need to consider:

Resources

You need IT investment and prowess for providing an omnichannel experience to the customer. You also need proper infrastructure, the right technology stack, and a vision of integrating and execution. While in the multichannel support, the requirements are less.

Flexibility

A major portion of making the transition to omnichannel is about customers and incentives. Resist incentives that reward maximizing sales in each channel without considering the impact such objectives have on adjacent channels or the overall customer experience.

Final Words

Whether you need to implement an omnichannel or a multichannel approach, you must require an ecommerce application development company for meeting your requirements. Also, there are certain prerequisites of your ecommerce store to consider before adopting an approach. At Emizentech, the best ecommerce development company, we are having expertise in developing e-commerce stores from scratch and meet every custom requirement of our clients. Let us know what you need and we will turn it into web reality.

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Author

CTO at Emizentech and a member of the Forbes technology council, Amit Samsukha, is acknowledged by the Indian tech world as an innovator and community builder. He has a well-established vocation with 12+ years of progressive experience in the technology industry. He directs all product initiatives, worldwide sales and marketing, and business enablement. He has spearheaded the journey in the e-commerce landscape for various businesses in India and the U.S.

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