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Omnichannel vs Multichannel: 4 Distinct Differences Retailers Should Know

August 2, 2019
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Retailers today know they face a decision of omnichannel vs multichannel to reach customers where they are and create a memorable customer experience. Often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences that separate omnichannel and multichannel into two unique strategies for retail.

Multichannel and omnichannel retailers both have web stores and physical locations, but in the multichannel case, the two channels are separated. Omnichannel retail connects the path-to-purchase every step of the way, giving customers a seamless online-to-offline experience.

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Separate Touchpoints or Seamless Touchpoints?

The siloed nature of multichannel increases the effort retailers need to exert to reach prospective customers. Separate channels with unique touchpoints create gaps in the nurturing process that get exposed when visitors do not make purchases right away.

The seamless touchpoints across channels in the omnichannel retail experience enable visitors to have a unified path-to-purchase regardless of their first brand interaction and the final one, whether it’s online or in-store. Ultimately, the goal is to drive sales and although omnichannel takes more resources to implement, for most businesses there are more pros than cons to omnichannel.

Increase Reach or Maximize Quality?

Another factor to consider when debating the merits of omnichannel vs multichannel is the organizational objectives. Emphasis on volume suggests that multichannel is most effective as retailers can cast a wide net and reach customers on specific channels.

However, omnichannel focuses on building a memorable experience for the visitor on every channel. The focus on relationship-building facilitates customer loyalty, encourages referrals, and can increase brand equity to drive marketing efforts.

Add More Personalization to Marketing Strategy

Whether it’s multichannel or omnichannel, personalization can help sway a prospective customer. Companies that leverage multichannel strategies are able to personalize messages and entice customers. Four in five customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand who provides personalized experiences.¹ However, those that implement omnichannel strategies understand the customer’s preferences during the relationship-building phase and can better serve them with offers that are tailored to their needs.

Personalization helps build a connection between the retailer and the customer. Often the relationship is transactional, but it doesn’t have to be. Customers that feel appreciated are more likely to choose a specific brand for their next purchase. Personalization delivers the customization shoppers crave in each experience.

Implementation of Modern Retail Technology

Consideration for omnichannel vs multichannel often starts with feasibility. Companies that have inventory management and point-of-sale systems with mobile functionality are better equipped to implement an omnichannel retail strategy. Alternatively, retailers with outdated systems may be limited to a multichannel approach in which each channel needs to be managed separately or a single-channel solution that poses a threat to scalability.

Modern retail technology gives retailers a chance to outperform the competition for customers’ loyalty and continued business. Additionally, a connected experience increases engagement. These retailers allow customers to create profiles that include purchase history, items of interest, and recommendations on related products.

Runit’s omnichannel retail software helps retailers scale their businesses with an integrated inventory management and POS system. In addition, cross-channel data accuracy helps store managers in order fulfillment while reducing the costs and time associated with delivery.

To optimize your omnichannel retail strategy, contact a member of our team today.