Omnichannel vs. Multichannel: How to Know the Difference

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Evaldas Mockus
Evaldas Mockus
SEO Lead
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Many businesses use multichannel marketing since they can reach out to customers and send them information. However, those that use multichannel marketing run into problems:

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

Businesses may wonder how they can overcome these problems with their marketing strategy. After all, style inconsistencies can affect their brand, miscommunication can affect employees, and frustrated customers can cause them to lose money and retention.

Omnichannel marketing allows businesses to keep all of their channels in one place while unifying their style and information. But does that fix the problems faced by multichannel marketing?

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel – What is the Difference?

People may look at the words “omnichannel” and “multichannel” and assume that they mean the same thing. After all, they both have multiple channels that a business uses to communicate with customers. However, they have important differences that give them varying functions.

The key difference comes from integration. Yes, the customer has different ways to access information through channels, but multichannel marketing doesn’t have them work together in a unified way. This is because each channel provides different services and runs separately from the rest.

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 expect a seamless experience between channels. This means that the customer wants to buy from a company that maintains unity between their channels.

If they visit your Facebook page, they want it to have a similar style to your
website, online course or training, and email newsletter.

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.

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Examples

While multichannel and omnichannel marketing has their differences, some people may struggle to visualize them. After all, the two marketing strategies have similarities that may leave some people feeling confused. Let’s look at an example to make it easier to tell them apart.

Multichannel vs Omnichannel Marketing
Multichannel vs Omnichannel Marketing

Multichannel is when a company is using several channels to communicate the same message or idea to customers. This puts the company at the center of the strategy, and the channels work to deliver that message manually.

Omnichannel marketing, however takes a different approach. It pulls the customer into the center of the strategy, and the channels that the customer uses to engage with the brand not only have a unified message, but that message adapts to each touchpoint a customer has with the brand. Meaning that the messages the customer sees, regardless of the channel, will update once the customer has purchased for example.

That level of personalization isn’t possible through multichannel marketing.

As this example points out concerning multichannel marketing, customers want to reach a brand through different channels. If you only provide email, then they get annoyed that they can’t use other channels to connect.

This is how multichannel works. Since each channel functions separately, customers need to go to that specific channel to find the information that they want. This can cause them frustration and make them want to find a different company that provides better integration.

Omnichannel marketing allows customers to connect with a brand through any of their channels. With each of these channels updating in function to the last experience the customer had, each touchpoint and channel creates one seamless experience.

You provide them with these different ways to engage with your brand to make it as convenient as possible. People appreciate it when you save them time and money, so by using omnichannel marketing, you provide that convenience to your customers.

Since customers want things to be as easy as possible, they will want to buy from a business that uses each channel to integrate different features. It lowers the amount of clicks that people have to do, so it keeps them satisfied as it saves them time.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Ecommerce

When your business has an eCommerce presence, you need to give the customers ways to easily purchase products. The easier it is for a customer to purchase something from you, the more likely you will retain them as a customer.

Multichannel eCommerce can provide information to customers and allow them to make purchases. After all, those channels are designed to help customers make purchases. However, omnichannel eCommerce has an advantage over multichannel.

single channel vs multi channel

While customers still make purchases through multichannel eCommerce, omnichannel leads to more purchases. When customers use more than three channels, as shown in the image above, they spend more money. Omnichannel marketing encourages them to use other channels.

Since omnichannel marketing keeps each channel unified, it encourages customers to use the other channels. Since it’s easier to use those other channels through an omnichannel strategy, customers naturally use them more and increase the business’ sales.

To add to this, businesses that used omnichannel marketing and implement three or more channels had an 18.96% engagement rate, which is three times higher than single-channel strategies.

Engagement rates remain an important part of eCommerce. It shows the number of people that participate in or interact with your brand via different channels. This includes clicking on links, sharing a post on social media, or other similar activities. The higher the percentage, the more your customers are interacting with your brand.

While having more channels leads to more customer interaction, you’ll increase your sales even further by encouraging customers to use those different channels. Omnichannel marketing makes it easy for them to do so, which helps them to use your channels and helps you to make a profit.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Retailing

Omnichannel and multichannel retailing provide completely different experiences from each other. They each focus on something else, which affects the way that they handle retail for their customers. While multichannel retail focuses on the information, omnichannel focus on the customer.

Multichannel retail focuses on getting information to the customer. For example, they want to update their customers about a deal coming up, so they tell each channel to inform the customers in hopes of the customers buying more from their business. This involves the channels creating their own message and getting it out to the customers.

After this, they see how customers react to the changes and they adjust their channel accordingly. These changes depend on how the messages and deals affect the metrics of the channel. This can help them to adapt and improve their business based on the information that they collect.

Omnichannel retail focuses on the customer and making them the center of the business. Businesses bring their employees together and inform them of the changes. This allows them to focus on keeping things consistent between channels as they apply changes to retail.

omnichannel-marketing-holiday-campaigns2

They can use different omnichannel marketing strategies to adjust their retail according to the needs of the customers. This includes the following tips and strategies, as shown in the link above:

  • Communicate with your workers.
  • Collect customer data and analyze it.
  • Send out targeted messages.
  • Constantly adapt.

By following these strategies, your business puts the customers at the center, which keeps them as the focus. You collect data about customers, send out targeted messages to increase metrics, and constantly adapt to their needs.

With this in mind, omnichannel retail can draw in more customers since it focuses on bringing them the products, content, and retail that they want.

Multichannel Retail or Omnichannel Retail

After reading through this article, it may seem clear that a person should focus on omnichannel retail. After all, it provides more focus on customers and leads to better sales. However, why do people choose multichannel retail if omnichannel provides so many benefits?

Multichannel retail allows each channel to function on its own. The employees of each channel don’t need to worry as much about communication and can focus on building up their channels. This simplifies the process for them and makes it so that they only need to worry about their channel.

Not only that, but omnichannel marketing requires more work to implement and to have it be effective. If a business isn’t willing to do the work, they may feel that it’s easier to stick with multichannel marketing since it still brings good results.

While multichannel retail does allow consumers to make purchases through different channels, it’s more important than ever to have integrated channels. With so many people starting their shopping on one device and switching to another, that consistency will help you to retain customers.

While it does require extra work, omnichannel retail provides benefits that make the work worth it. With a solid start on your marketing strategy, you can create a unified channel that helps customers with their purchases while turning them into returning customers.

Conclusion

While they may appear similar at first, omnichannel and multichannel marketing have distinct differences. Multichannel marketing works for businesses that want to expand their eCommerce reach, but omnichannel marketing allows companies to finetune it.

Omnichannel marketing requires more work and focus from your employees to implement. However, the benefits make it worth that extra work and time. As you apply an omnichannel strategy to your online market, you can retain customers and continue to grow your business.

Don’t forget Omnisend can help take your marketing to the next level.

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Evaldas Mockus
Evaldas Mockus

Evaldas is an experienced Search Engine Optimization specialist with a demonstrated history of working in IT and SaaS companies. He is good at data analysis and math.


Further Reading:

Omnisend’s Shopify Flow Connector: Unleash More of Your Omnichannel Marketing
How SMS Can Propel Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
omnichannel blogpost cover
What is Omnichannel Marketing? (+4 Best Practices for Ecommerce)

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