Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Retail: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the ecommerce marketing space, chances are you’ve heard the words “Omnichannel” and “Multichannel” floating around. It’s easy to mix them up in your head and just consult the dictionary to sort them out.

However, businesses continue to move online, with consumers’ shopping habits changing. Therefore, it is more important than ever to understand these two words and be able to distinguish between them.

So, what are the differences? How do they work? Which is more common? Should you switch your business to one model or the other? Is there anything that can help you out after you’ve made the decision?

Read on to learn more!

Omnichannel

Omnichannel retail focuses on having 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.

Say, for example, a customer wants to buy a new guitar for their home studio. They see someone playing a guitar on YouTube or Instagram, and the poster shows that they bought it 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, focusing 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 it.

Multichannel

Multichannel works a little differently, and because it works differently, the customer experience is also different. Multichannel retail focuses more on customer reach than a streamlined, integrated experience. Multichannel retail works under the assumption that consumers will use different channels to access a product, and they try to bring in as many potential revenue streams as possible.

So, say company A wants to sell the guitar. . Company A wants to sell guitars, and they want to bring in 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 are under the same brand, but they operate separately, with their own inventory, their own staff, and their own individual business aims.

Summary

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
  • Streamlined
  • 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, even just the key differences, between multichannel and omnichannel ecommerce is essential to knowing where you want to go with your business, what you want to do with your revenue, and how you want to push your marketing.

Currently, most businesses use a multichannel model, and more businesses are switching to it every single day. It can seem pretty intimidating, complex, and difficult to manage. How in the world can you keep track of everything and not go absolutely insane? That’s where we come in. Listing Mirror is the #1 multichannel listing software that helps you with Listing Management, Order Fulfillment, Inventory Syncing, & Warehouse Management.  We at Listing Mirror want to help you with all of your multichannel selling needs so you can sell more and work less.