Omnichannel vs. Multichannel – What is the Difference?

Nowadays you hear a lot about Omnichannel, have you wondered what exactly are they taking about.

Omnichannel focuses on delivering a consistent, personalized experience for shoppers across all channels and devices. Multichannel marketing spans several different channels, like social, mobile, direct mail, and a physical location but every channel is separate and independent from the others.

Say for example you purchased a pair of shoes from a large national retailer in the online store for your country. Your shoes arrive but they don’t fit properly!
You decide to rock up to their local branch in your city and when you ask the customer service desk to change the shoes they advise you you can’t do that and that you must post them back to the online distribution center.

Not exactly a good customer service experience.

We are getting used to the path to purchase zigzagging across multiple channels and devices, from desktop to smartphones and tablets, ecommerce sites to mobile apps and even brick-and-mortar stores, marketers are being forced to question the differences when it comes to omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing.

Omnichannel marketing focuses on delivering a consistent, personalized experience for shoppers across all channels and devices. The guiding principle of omnichannel marketing is that it’s shopper-based, not channel-based. The main goal is to make the shopper experience as easy as possible, and that means consistent engagement no matter where or how a shopper is interacting with you. in short ‘An omnichannel strategy ensures a seamless experience for shoppers.’

As you can see from our example the lack of integration from a multichannel approach can create a confusing and impersonal experience that often leaves shoppers feeling frustrated.

With over a third of online purchases spanning multiple devices, many shoppers today are beginning their path to purchase on one device and ending it on a different one, or starting online and completing the sale in-store and vice versa. Today’s shopper is comfortable searching and buying across a variety of formats and locations and retailers must adopt.

Research has shown that digital devices now influence a majority of in-store sales, a recent study revealed that over half (56%) of all brick-and-mortar transactions are preceded by a digital engagement. Furthermore, a growing number of consumers are opting to make purchases on the web and then picking those items up in physical locations with a new buzzword BOPUS (buy online, pickup in store) emerging in 2020.”

In addition shoppers that use more multiple channels to shop your products have been found to deliver a higher lifetime value than those that use just one. So it’s essential that you adopt an omnichannel mindset for successful ecommerce in 2021.

Omnichannel retailers that focus on a holistic approach see bigger gains. but matching shoppers across devices, unifying online and offline profiles, and connecting to the right media to deliver timely messages are nearly impossible for retailers and brands to do without a solid strategy and technology investment to back it up.

Multichannel marketing is a good start but run into these problems rather quickly:

  • Style inconsistencies between channels.
  • Miscommunication between channels.
  • Frustrating customers since they need to use multiple channels.

Omnichannel marketing allows businesses to keep all of their channels in one place while unifying their style and information. Omnichannel marketing has the customer at the center. They focus on the needs of the customer, providing them with a personalized message in a seamless, unified experience. This allows the customer to easily access information from any of the channels since the channels are connected to each other.

Customers like unity because it shows brand consistency, which gives the following benefits:

  • Customers know you pay attention to small details.
  • They can trust your business since it’s consistent.
  • They become loyal to a business that they trust.
  • When you lack consistency, customers think that your business is unorganized.
  • By keeping channels integrated and unified, people see that you care about your company. You pay attention to those small details to maintain a consistent style between your channels.

While omnichannel and multichannel seem similar on the surface, they have major differences that affect the way customers view of your company. Omnichannel focuses on those small details to bring unity to your channels. Customers recognize this unity and appreciate it.

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