Omnichannel vs Multichannel: What is the Difference and Why Does It Matter?

Learn about the key differences between multichannel and omnichannel marketing.

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In a variety of brands, each of them seeks to stand out and make their customers a profitable offer. Goods or services are usually of high quality and good price, however, to succeed in retailing the method of delivering this information to the client must be chosen correctly. To do this, a retailing marketing strategy is created. Over time it can be adjusted, changed and modified. Today, there are two most popular ways: multichannel and omnichannel marketing. At first glance, they are very similar, however, the differences between them are quite significant.

How Does Multichannel Retailing Work?

The principle of multichannel marketing is clear from its name. This strategy uses different (multi) channels to reach a larger audience. Since the consumer today can be anywhere, various channels can be used to deliver product information: TV and radio, social networks, newspapers, blogs, applications. The main feature of this method is the adaptation of one message to all selected channels.

Online shops adopt this strategy much easier than other businesses. Multichannel eCommerce strategy can combine several of the most popular channels that are selected depending on the target audience. When choosing a combination of communication channels, many factors are taken into account: age and preferences of the TA, region, popularization of social networks and instant messengers, etc.

Much more complicated is the situation with offline stores that want to be represented everywhere. Ideas and slogans that are suitable for billboards, television commercials and stands in the store do not always look good on digital banners. This leads to the fact that for each channel it is necessary to develop its own content, which will attract the attention of specific users.

Pros of multichannel marketing:

  • Content availability. The customer may access the brand from wherever he likes, whenever he likes. Content is available on several channels, which makes it more visible to the wide audience.
  • Memory imprint. Due to the fact that people receive a large amount of information every day, they easily forget more than half. The constant repetition of one message on different channels contributes to its quick memorization.

Cons of multichannel marketing:

  • It’s a time-consuming and difficult process. Marketers have to spend a lot of time choosing channels and developing a strategy that takes into account the characteristics of each of them. Creating banners and advertising can be real torture.
  • A brand message should be suitable for all selected channels: choosing a slogan, ways of its visual presentation and sounding – all this is hard and painstaking work.

Moreover, centralized multichannel retailing will require to use powerful analytical tools to process tons of information received from various channels. This may entail the need to review the strategy and apply improvements. In fairness, it must be said that such work pays off with incomes that grow several times. However, one must be prepared that not all communication channels will bring equally high rates.

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Omnichannel Technology Advantages

The omnichannel definition also clarifies the meaning of this marketing strategy – using all available channels to deliver a brand message to a customer. This causes misunderstanding and confusion. The thing is that omnichannel technologies put the consumer and his vision at the core of marketing strategy.

The basis of this strategy is the interaction of the consumer with the brand. Moreover, this method not only makes ads, banners or creative slogans. Everything is considered from the position of the consumer, that is, the brand puts itself in the place of its buyer in order to understand its needs and choose the best ways to satisfy them. It is not about choosing goods and services, but about the convenience of purchasing them. Thus, the customer’s experience comes first.

Direct interaction with the client in omnichannel retailing occurs in various ways. This may be a support service on social networks or additional features in the application. In any case, it is always a very customized service based on the needs of the target audience. To achieve this, it is also necessary to process a huge amount of information and stay in the shoes of the client.

Some marketers say omnichannel marketing is a multichannel one brought to perfection. However, pitfalls can also be expected here.

Pros of omnichannel marketing:

  • Makes more competitive in a crowded market. Offering a customized service to the client, the company stands out among the competitors, is better remembered and receives positive feedback.
  • Makes access to goods simple and convenient. Getting the same shopping experience on different devices, users note that shopping becomes easy, comfortable and joyful. They are more likely to recommend such stores to their friends and share this on social media.

Cons of omnichannel marketing:

  • The complexity of implementation. More familiar marketing strategies are less time consuming than omnichannel ones. Moreover, the need to take into account a lot of data regarding customer needs and information about distribution channels makes the process of developing a strategy extremely complex.
  • The need to engage with the client face to face. Direct communication with clients will help to identify their needs. This means that it will be necessary to conduct surveys, research and study the interests, habits and other data about consumers.

Since the consumer is the basis of the omnichannel marketing platform, the entire system should be configured exclusively for him. This means that, along with the choice of channels, the company needs to choose the right brand messages that will “re-echo” inside the consumer’s mind. At the same time, the entire purchase process must be transformed. The simpler it is, the better.

Multichannel vs Omnichannel: 3 Major Differences

Both of these marketing strategies lead companies to success and increase profits. However, the difference between multichannel and omnichannel approaches to the development of advertising and brand presentation leads to the fact that the prospects for companies are also different.

1. Channel-centric vs Customer-centric approach

The multichannel approach seeks to reach the consumer using as many channels as possible. Marketers carry out preliminary research, however, their search is based on the most popular channel for their target audience, hours of use, duration and other data. Thus, the strategy consists of searching for channels and adapting the idea to their requirements, so that the consumer was aware of goods, news and new opportunities.

The omnichannel approach seeks to establish and strengthen the relationship between the consumer and the brand using all channels. However, the peculiarity lies in the fact that through each channel, there is a direct interaction with the consumer. This creates a positive opinion and feedback, collects data on the needs of customers to improve their experience. Research data shows that the omnichannel method increases the involvement of consumers in the life of the brand by 91%.

2. Consistency and Engagement

Multichannel marketing allows the use of various visual materials to represent the company on different channels. Since it is necessary to take into account various requirements, it is rather difficult to choose something unified.

Omnichannel marketing, on the contrary, is fully focused on ensuring that consumers receive the same experience across all channels. Therefore, the coherence is crucial. All departments of the company that somehow represent it may be involved in such promotions.

3. Effort and Effortless experience

Creating effortless experience is another aspiration of omnichannel business. The easier the purchase is, the greater the success of the company. Regular research is carried out precisely in this area: how to make things simpler, more convenient and more understandable. Intuitive application settings, customized services, such as a wish list, past purchases, interests goods, are all convenient tools created with the consumer in mind.

The multichannel approach suggests that the consumer will make some effort to purchase. For example, to increase the popularity of an online store, they may sell goods that are not available in offline stores.

Experts and researchers do not agree on the choice of the most optimal marketing strategy. The thing is that despite the advantages, each method has its drawbacks, which for some companies significantly outweigh the possible benefits. Besides, not all brands may apply any of these strategies due to any particularities or excessive cost.

Either method can be suitable, depending on the particular business and its type of activity. Contact the Computools experts at to develop the perfect strategy.

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