Omnichannel Versus Multichannel: Everything You Need to Know

Omnichannel vs multichannel: everything you need to know

By David Rastatter, Sr. Director, Product Marketing

Do you know the differences between omnichannel and multichannel? Understanding the nuances of each will help you implement the right strategy to master omnichannel in your business.

Today’s consumers want to interact with brands on their terms. That means delivering the information they demand, on the channels they prefer, at the time they want it — and 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience across every channel that they choose to engage.

For retailers, this means it is no longer enough to just sell your products on multiple channels, say in-store and on your website. Consumers want a highly personalized and connected experience across those channels.

And herein lies the difference between multichannel and omnichannel – two different yet easily confused strategies. Businesses must leverage both multichannel and omnichannel approaches to empower higher customer value, loyalty, and retention.

But first, let’s explore what they mean.

Multichannel means using multiple channels to sell your products.

Multichannel is exactly what it sounds like – a business utilizing multiple channels to interact with customers. These could be traditional channels such as phone, e-mail, and physical stores, or digital ones like websites, mobile apps, and social media. The idea is that companies increase their chances of engaging their target market by having multiple different points of contact with their customer base.

It may seem like a no brainer, but the value of multichannel speaks for itself, with data revealing that using 3 or more channels in a campaign increases order rate by 494%.

Omnichannel means integrating those channels to create a seamless customer experience.

Omnichannel is similar to multichannel in the sense that it also involves multiple channels for customer engagement. The key difference, however, is that with omnichannel, all channels are integrated with each other in order to create a completely unified customer experience across the board.

With omnichannel, customers can move seamlessly between channels as they engage with your business for support, product information, or anything else. Omnichannel, simply put, means meeting customers where they are.

For example, a coffee shop chain might issue a digital loyalty card where customers can accrue points and rewards on a mobile app. The app also enables the coffee drinker to find nearby stores, order drinks for pickup on arrival, view menu updates, and so on. The linked app also gathers consumer data about the customer’s orders,engagement preferences, and frequented locations, which the chain uses to inform and build personalized, proactive social media and email campaigns.

In other words, there is complete synchronization between the multiple channels the business uses to engage its customers. The result is an enhanced customer experience designed to boost satisfaction and sales.

To make omnichannel a reality, businesses must have a unified sales process and integrate different channels into one seamless platform.

Key benefits of omnichannel versus multichannel:

  • Improved customer experience: Customers are more likely to have positive experiences when they can access the same products, services, and information on different channels without interruption. They can shop online and also seek advice in a physical store if needed.
  • Increased revenue: An omnichannel approach allows companies to maximize sales opportunities by offering customers multiple purchasing options that meet their individual needs. It also facilitates up-selling, as customers can see all the products and/or services a company offers on different channels.
  • Higher customer loyalty: When customers feel appreciated and have a pleasant experience, they are more likely to remain loyal to your brand. With accumulated customer information in one place, an omnichannel approach makes it easier for companies to create personalized customer experiences that encourage loyalty.
  • Better understanding of the customer journey: Omnichannel offers visibility into the different touchpoints where customers interact with your brand and thereby helps you to gain a better understanding of their buying behavior. This allows you to optimize your marketing efforts and increase ROI.
  • Increased market share: The points above all lead to increased market share – as does the fact that an omnichannel approach leads to an increased reach. With omnichannel, you can always reach customers where they are, so they no longer have to search or channel-hop to find you. The more channels you are (and the more seamless you create their experience), the more customers you reach.

A strong omnichannel strategy starts with the right tech stack

An omnichannel approach begins by integrating all customer data that is spread out and siloed across multiple channels. To do so, companies need technology that centralizes data, tracks customer touchpoints across different channels, and automates error-prone processes.

E-Commerce integration empowers stronger omnichannel experiences by integrating key channels, automating workflows, and centralizing customer data.

Want to hear directly from the experts?

Jitterbit is offering a free webinar on March 21st, Mastering Omnichannel Commerce: 5 Essential Tips for Creating Seamless Customer Experiences, explaining how to implement omnichannel strategies in your organization. Register now to learn how you can increase revenue, improve CX, improve customer loyalty, and scale your business.

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