Omnichannel And Multichannel Retail: Definition And Difference

22 Jun


In an age of instant fulfillment, consumers’ needs have pushed businesses to become more customer-centric. As companies improve their customer experiences, customer expectations will continue to rise.

Businesses are doing their part to be more accessible and knowledgeable about their customers, but many are struggling to implement a service strategy that truly meets customers on their terms.

To do so, they must implement a strategy that promotes customer satisfaction and loyalty at all times.

Omnichannel and multichannel are the most popular buzzwords in the world of eCommerce, social selling, digital marketplaces, and physical storefronts. However, distinguishing between the two is not always easy.

**What is Multichannel Retail?**

Multichannel support entails providing customers with more than one way to contact customer service.

It combines the customer experience and allows consumers to engage on the channel of their choice. It is adaptable, but it expects brands to behave within the parameters of the channel.

Once you've determined which channels best resonate with your target market, you can optimize your marketing in those channels to maximize sales.

Let’s give you an example:

Imagine you just adopted a cute pup and you want to buy everything for that little one amidst all the excitement. So you start exploring ‘X’ platform, let’s name it ‘Pup House’.

Channel 1: Pup House Website

You open their website and as a first-time visitor, they offer you a $50 discount on your first purchase.

Let’s say you moved past it and added a dog bed to the cart. But later you abandon it before purchasing.

Before leaving, an email pops up that promises a $50 discount, to target you with the offer, later.

Let’s say you filled in your details and now you receive a mail asking you to complete the purchase with a convincing template and a $50 discount. You click on the purchase option and immediately redirects you to the same abandoned cart and applies a $50 discount on your purchase.


These email templates are used to convert first-time buyers.

Here, both the on-site experience and the email felt like a single channel.

Channel 2: Online Marketplace

It is insufficient to simply market products. The key to multichannel marketing is to provide native commerce opportunities across all channels. For instance, the same dog house on Amazon.

Channel 3: Social Media Platforms

Imagine you didn’t complete the purchase for the dog bed. And now you’re receiving promotional ads for the same dog bed on Instagram, or Facebook.

This happens to us - All.The.Time.

So, you see in a multichannel strategy, each channel represents a separate purchase opportunity.

**What is Omnichannel Retail?**

Omnichannel retail is immersive and centers on the customer, not the product. It is about communicating in ways that are consistent with why they use a particular channel and demonstrating awareness of their unique stage in the customer lifecycle.

Omnichannel retail does not require your presence everywhere; rather, it requires your presence wherever your customers are. This distinction is what distinguishes high-performing businesses from the rest.

In essence, omnichannel eliminates the distinctions between various sales and marketing channels to create a unified, integrated whole.

Let’s continue with the same example:

You visit the “Pup House” website, add a dog bed to the cart but leave without purchasing.

Now you receive an email offering you a $50 discount on your purchase, but you move past it.

Two days later you start receiving the same dog bed ads on all your social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, everywhere.

You still don’t buy it and that’s when you see an ad by “Pup House” feeding shelter animals and indulging themselves in charity work. And how every purchase that a user makes helps in funding medical treatments for these animals - with a CTA button.

And that’s where you make your purchase.

So what exactly happened here?

Your touchpoints helped the brand to understand your purchasing cycle. The brand, keeping their product ‘dog bed’ at the center, subtly pushed you towards the purchase.

Customer behavior dictates the next set of tactics in an omnichannel strategy. Every interaction modifies the experience.

The brand's behavior is not random. It is consistent with the customer's behavior both within and between channels.

**The Difference**

When your company has an eCommerce presence, you must provide customers with easy ways to purchase products. The simpler it is for a customer to buy something from you, the more likely it is that you will keep them as a customer.

Since Omnichannel provides a more seamless customer experience, it appears to be a rational option.

But it's not quite that simple.

Your approach must depend on whether you start your business as a physical retail store or as a digital business.

The key distinction stems from integration.

The customer is at the heart of omnichannel marketing.

It focuses on customer's needs, delivering a personalized message in a unified, seamless experience. Because the channels are linked together, the customer can easily access information from any of them.

This level of personalization is not possible through multichannel marketing.

Quick fact - Businesses that used omnichannel marketing and implemented three or more channels had an engagement rate of 18.96 percent, which is three times higher than single-channel strategies.

The goal of multichannel retail is to get information to the customer. For example, if they want to inform their customers about an upcoming deal, they tell each channel to do so in the hopes that the customers will buy more from their company. This entails the channels developing their own message and disseminating it to customers.

After reading this article, it’s clear that businesses must concentrate on omnichannel retail. After all, it focuses on the customer and leads to increased sales.

But then why do people prefer multichannel retail when omnichannel offers so many advantages?

Multichannel retail enables each channel to function independently. Employees of each channel no longer have to worry about communication and can instead focus on growing their channels. This simplifies the process for them and allows them to focus solely on their channel.

Omnichannel marketing requires more effort to implement and maintain effectiveness. If a business is not yet ready to put in the work, multichannel marketing can produce good results.

**What’s the take?**

Multichannel marketing is effective for businesses looking to expand their eCommerce reach, but omnichannel marketing allows them to fine-tune it.

If you are new to this industry, or if you’re looking for bigger opportunities to grow — You've come to the right place.

Call us, email us, or drop a text; our team will respond and turn your idea into a live product.