Omnichannel and multichannel e-commerce marketing are often confused and sometimes misunderstood as synonyms. Both marketing methods may not seem different at first glance, but they are fundamentally distinct. Before proceeding further, you must first know about omnichannel and multichannel retailing.
Almost 42% of retail executives have said that they spend half of their marketing budget on omnichannel plans.
It is essential for businesses, especially e-commerce businesses to understand both the methods along with their advantages and use cases.
This blog post covers in-depth of both the marketing techniques and how they differ from each other.
Multichannel e-commerce marketing
Multichannel marketing is nothing but reaching the target audience through various channels such as mail, social media, SMS, landing pages, websites, print media, and so on.
These channels are not linked to each other and function independently. Each channel has its own strategy and goals. Also, one channel does not depend on another for its success.
Multichannel marketing is an improved version of single-channel marketing since the former brings better results by utilizing two or more platforms to engage with customers in a more effective way. Selling on Amazon has become a preferred option for selling products online.
It is estimated that multichannel shoppers usually spend three times more than single-channel shoppers.
For example, a company which uses print media such as newspaper for advertising will only reach people who read newspaper. However, even if it fits their target audience, it might not be sufficient as customers expect businesses to be present in more than one channel.
Multichannel marketing performs better not just in reaching out to a lot of people but also in creating better engagement. This marketing type helps in bringing new customers and fulfilling the requirements of existing customers.
Omnichannel E-commerce Marketing
Omnichannel marketing also involves multiple channels for marketing. The basic and most important difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing is that customers have integrated experience in omnichannel marketing.
In other words, the channels used in omnichannel marketing are linked to each other to deliver a seamless experience for customers, unlike multichannel marketing where every channel could act independently.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, around 73% of customers make use of several channels while making a purchase. Hence, a true omnichannel experience can improve customer satisfaction and can significantly grow a business.
The most used social media and user-generated content tools by omnichannel retailers in the United States are given below.
Now coming to the differences between multichannel and omnichannel…
Channel vs customer
The primary difference between both lies in focus on channel vs customer.
The goal of multichannel approach is to reach a wide audience and to create engagement. Hence multichannel focuses mainly on channels rather than the customer. Two of the commonly used channels are email and social media. Check out this comprehensive social media guide for e-commerce businesses.
Omnichannel utilizes multiple channels to create a personalised experience for Multichannel e-commerce marketing customers. As a result, all the channels are centred around the customer.
This difference arises mainly due to the result of the customer-centric approach of omnichannel and the channel-centric approach of multichannel as discussed previously.
In the case of omnichannel marketing, consistency across various channels is maintained due to integration. E-commerce businesses can plan and deliver the same message through different channels.
This is not the same for multichannel eCommerce marketing. The absence of integration can lead to mismatch and comparatively ineffective results.
For a brand to succeed and sustain for a long time, customers should encounter a similar brand image on almost all the channels.
Since omnichannel e-commerce marketing blurs the line between the channels used by the customer, the information gained from different channels can help in offering a more personalized experience for customers.
Since the channels act independently in multichannel eCommerce marketing, the possibility of delivering a customized experience is less.
Omnichannel vs multichannel customer experience
Let’s see an example of multichannel customer experience…
Consider a customer named Antony wants to buy a chair for his home. He checks the best companies which sell chairs and finalises one. He goes through all the chairs listed on the website.
After selecting a model, he checks if it is available in any of the nearby stores as there is no geo store locator available on the website. Then he searches for the mobile number and calls the nearest store to inquire about the availability of that particular model.
A customer care representative, let’s assume X picks up the call and provides the necessary details. The next day he visits the store, and a new agent Y explains John the available list of chairs not knowing that John has already selected the chair and has just come to purchase it.
Though John was able to select a chair right from his home and buy from the nearest store, he isn’t completely satisfied due to the inconvenient experiences he faced.
Let’s see how the same situation works with omnichannel…
John decides to buy a chair. After selecting the best chair companies, he visits the website and goes through the products. He decides to search nearby stores that sell the chair.
He opens up the app, and it remembers the product he has selected. It also shows the nearby stores that sell the chair along with phone numbers. John books the chair directly and schedules to pick it up tomorrow or calls the store and does the same.
The next day he picks up the chair and feels satisfied due to hassle-free shopping experience.
Hence, the same John for the same situation had different experiences, because of the omnichannel and multichannel systems in place.
If your e-commerce site is running on WooCommerce, then using an helpdesk like WSDesk can be help in responding effectively to customer queries and avoid situations like the one John faced.
Things that you should be careful of while implementing multi-channel and omnichannel marketing
Both these marketing methods are capable of completely changing the course of your e-commerce business.
Since your brand image is directly involved with marketing, making the switch from one method to another should be done with care and caution.
Below mentioned points can help you to run multichannel and omnichannel marketing successfully in the long run.
Precise resource planning
Putting any of these two marketing methods into action requires the right planning of resources. Inefficient use of resources can cause a huge loss to the online retail business.
Lack of time and insufficient investment in the required tools are two of the main hindrances for implementing these marketing techniques.
In addition to that, insufficient understanding of developing campaigns using multichannel and omnichannel marketing is also one of the big obstacles faced by enterprises.
There could be instances where teams could work on different segments, and this could result in siloed teams. This should be avoided, and the flow of information should be regulated.
Team members from different departments should be informed about the importance of communicating and updating information constantly.
Government regulations like GDPR compliance
Before using multiple channels, check the government regulations and rules of each channel. Customer data collection and storage should be done in accordance with rules and regulations.
For example, if you are operating a business in EU, then it should adhere to the laws of GDPR.
Which marketing method should I use? Omnichannel or multichannel e-commerce marketing?
If you are making the transition from single-channel marketing to multichannel marketing, then ensure that you select the channels carefully after adequate market research.
If you are implementing omnichannel marketing, then ensure that the channels are properly integrated and deployed as per the strategy.
The effectiveness of omnichannel marketing is better than that of multichannel marketing. In addition to that, the future of marketing especially in the case if the e-commerce industry lies in customer-centric approach hence omnichannel marketing is highly recommended.