Two of the most common eCommerce terms floating around are “Omnichannel” and “Multichannel”. If you simply head to the internet for a description of each, these two concepts can seem quite similar at first. In reality, they present key differences that every eCommerce seller should know.
Businesses in several industries continue to move online, combining online and in-person strategies to suit changing consumer shopping habits. In light of the digital transformation taking over retail, it’s important to understand the features and benefits of multichannel vs omnichannel strategies.
So, what are the differences? How do they work? Which is more common? Which model is best for your business?
Read on to learn more!
Multichannel retail focuses more on customer reach than a streamlined, integrated experience. You can imagine it like a wheel, with your brand in the center and each channel a spoke branching out.
Multichannel retail works under the assumption that consumers will use different channels to access a product. This strategy aims to bring in as many potential revenue streams as possible via different channels.
Company A wants to sell guitars, and they want to attract as many people as possible to buy their guitars. So they’ll set up shop in multiple ways: a brick and mortar store, an Amazon listing, listings for used products on music-centric platforms like Reverb, an online store, and maybe an eBay listing.
Each of these listings is under the same brand, but they operate separately, with their own inventory, their own staff, and their own individual marketing strategies. Brands may incorporate different marketing strategies for each channel to maximize sales on that channel.
Omnichannel retail focuses on creating a streamlined experience that prioritizes customer convenience above anything else. Specifically, it allows a customer to use multiple devices to find the same product and the same inventory.
Remember the wheel analogy from multichannel eCommerce? Now imagine that each spoke from the wheel is also connected, forming a circle. This represents the interconnected nature of omnichannel eCommerce.
Say, for example, a customer wants to buy a new guitar for their home studio. They see someone playing the guitar on YouTube or Instagram, and the poster shows that they bought the guitar from X-store. They go through the store app and search for the guitar they want. They go to the store, test the guitar out, and then go home, pull up their phone, and buy the guitar online.
With Omnichannel retail, there is one store, and one revenue stream, but multiple ways to access it. This strategy focuses on the consumer experience and convenience first and foremost. One inventory, but many different ways, across many different devices, to access this inventory and purchase from the brand.
The main difference between omnichannel and multichannel eCommerce is that omnichannel connects the touchpoints of the customer’s journey.
Omnichannel retail is laser-focused and unified. Multichannel retail is more spread out, aimed at making the most money by getting the greatest volume of customers. It’s like going out to sea, getting the biggest net you can find, and casting it to get catch whatever you can.
Here is a quick summary of each:
Omnichannel Ecommerce is:
- Consumer-focused, aiming for the best individual experience
- Focused on optimizing a single stream of revenue
- Designed so all the channels work in tandem with each other.
Multichannel Ecommerce is:
- Focused on customer engagement across multiple channels
- Spread-out, utilizing multiple revenue streams and inventories
- Designed so all channels work independently.
Knowing the differences between multichannel and omnichannel commerce is essential for knowing which is best for your business. Consider what you want to do with your revenue, and how you want to push your marketing.
Omnichannel evolves from multichannel, it’s the next step for creating an even better customer experience. Currently, most businesses are working toward an omnichannel model, with businesses switching to it every single day. Both multichannel and omnichannel strategies can seem pretty intimidating, complex, and difficult to manage.
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