Omnichannel vs Multichannel. Which One To Choose For Your Business?

If you’re a social seller and have been a part of the eCommerce industry for a while, you must have come across the terms – multichannel and omnichannel. With various technologies coming into play in today’s retail landscape, it’s extremely crucial for business owners to get acquainted with the difference between the two terms. People often confuse omnichannel with multichannel and vice versa, however, these are two very different and distinct retail approaches even though both use multiple channels to reach consumers.

In case you are wondering about the differences between the two terminologies and want to know which kind of retail would be better for your business, you have come to the right place. Here we have discussed in detail the differences between the two approaches and which is the better option for your eCommerce business.

What Is Multichannel Retailing?

Multichannel retailing can be defined as the practice of selling across multiple sales channels, such as marketplaces, social media, your eCommerce website and many more. 

While this approach includes selling through non-traditional sales channels, it also includes traditional selling through brick and mortar stores, catalogs, telephone, and so on. Businesses that employ a multichannel retail experience for their customers, approach the various sales channels as independent entities. For these companies, the on-site experience and the in-store experience are treated differently. 

Though a multichannel approach gives your customers the flexibility to purchase your products across channels, the main problem arises when their experience in two different channels doesn’t match. Multichannel retailing can make the sales process a bit difficult for your customers.

For example, in a multichannel strategy, if your customer orders your product online, they have to wait until the item is shipped. He/she has no option to order online and pick up the item from the store as none of the sales channels are connected in this strategy, which on the other hand, is possible if you employ omnichannel retailing. Let us learn how.

What Is Omnichannel Retailing?

Omnichannel is the new buzzword of the eCommerce landscape. Omnichannel retail is a business strategy that revolves around your customer’s experience. This approach helps a company deliver a seamless experience from the customer’s perspective. Every way a customer interacts with a firm, be it online, offline or through a mobile app, their user experience connects.

To create an omnichannel retail experience for your customers, selling products across multiple channels is not the only necessary thing you should focus on. All your integrations, such as payment methods, sales channels and other aspects of your eCommerce business must connect so that no matter how your customer interacts with your company, it’s seamless to them. 

The omnichannel retail approach is extremely customer-centric.

Let us take an example to understand this better-

Let’s say you run an apparels store and you sell through your physical store, online store, marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart and also through a mobile application. You market your products to your customers using newsletters, coupons in the mail, etc. Now you will be called an omnichannel retailer if all of these methods integrate together. For example, if your customer places an order online and can also pick it up from the store, they can go to your mobile application and view earlier in-store purchases. All of their engagement points are interconnected, which ultimately creates a seamless customer experience. 

Companies like Adidas, Van Heusen, Raymonds, Pepperfry and many more are examples of successful omnichannel retail businesses.

One very important thing to remember is the omnichannel approach wouldn’t have existed if multichannel operations hadn’t been in the scenario. If there were no multiple channels, there would have been no unified customer experience across those channels.

Multichannel vs Omnichannel

The biggest difference between both approaches is that multichannel focus on sales channels independently, whereas the omnichannel approach focuses on consumer experience, integrating all the sales channels together. Let us take an example – 

Multichannel- 

  • Akshat visits an online apparel store, browses through a few shirts and likes a specific one
  • Akshat decides to get an in-person view of the shirt before purchasing, hence drives to its physical store
  • Reaching the physical store, Akshat finds out the store doesn’t have stock of that particular shirt
  • Akshat returns home disappointed without any purchase

Omnichannel-

  • Palak visits an online jewelry store, browses through pendants and likes a specific one
  • The pendant Palak was looking for was listed as in-stock at the company’s retail shop. Palak adds the item to her wishlist and drives to the shop
  • Reaching the shop, Palak immediately located the pendant she was looking for
  • Palak purchases the pendant and returns home satisfied

In the first case, the apparels store gave its customers the flexibility to engage with their brand in multiple ways. However, it didn’t add much value to the customer’s overall buying experience. In the second scenario, it was all a centralized experience for the customer. She picked up from where she left regardless of the channel used.

Who Should Go For Omnichannel Selling

  1. eCommerce stores – When a buyer is purchasing your product online, giving them the option of “pick up in-store” or having it shipped to his/her home will increase customer satisfaction
  2. Businesses with high-profit margins – Order and fulfillment costs increase a lot when you are required to ship to the store first, only to pay someone to pick up the order or to ship to the customer, which ultimately eats into your profits. Therefore, omnichannel selling requires high-profit margins.

Who Should Go For Multichannel Selling

Businesses that don’t want to go for extra integration expenses should choose multichannel retailing over omnichannel. Although many retailers are going in the omnichannel direction, if it doesn’t make sense for your budget it’s better to stick to multichannel selling

Conclusion

Omnichannel, as well as multichannel retailing, allows your buyer to interact with your company in multiple ways. The only difference is multichannel selling doesn’t integrate with the individual channels. On the other hand, omnichannel selling includes everything under one roof, be it resolving shipping issues, marketing your product, providing secured payment gateways and so on. 

In case you too are looking to provide your customers with an omnichannel experience, get in touch with Shiprocket 360. We are India’s leading eCommerce and omnichannel solutions provider empowering small and medium enterprises since 2012. 



Debarpita Sen

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