Multichannel vs. omnichannel: which strategy does your retail business use? Is there a difference between the two? And if there is a difference, does it even matter?
As we’ll explain, the answers to these questions have important implications for your business.
What is Multichannel Retail?
When we use the term “multichannel,” what we are really referring to is the way that retailers have traditionally viewed distribution channels.
In the multichannel mindset, the retailer provides its goods and services to customers through multiple channels, such as a brick and mortar store, an outlet store, a catalog, and a website. Each channel operates independently of the others, sometimes even with its own merchandising team. Customer data is collected through each channel but is not shared across channels.
While a multichannel strategy is a relatively “quick” way to enter new channels (no messy system integrations), it is not a good long-term strategy because customers are left frustrated with a lack of consistency across channels and the retailer cannot determine which customers are shopping multiple channels.
What is Omnichannel Retail?
An omnichannel retail strategy corrects the problems encountered with a multichannel strategy. This approach views retail channels as part of one giant system, with consistent merchandise, branding, and customer service across every touchpoint. Customers can visit one channel and easily end up purchasing items from a different channel.
In order to effectively implement an omnichannel strategy, it’s important to set up customer data warehouses in a way that lets them to talk to each other. This allows the retailer to understand which customers are buying from multiple channels, have a complete view of a customer’s transaction history, and even better manage inventory.
Multichannel vs. Omnichannel: Which Strategy Will You Choose?
While many retailers have implemented multichannel strategies, few have created the seamless omnichannel customer experience that consumers have come to expect. In the future, it’s the true omnichannel retailers who will win the battle for customers’ wallets.
To learn more about creating a winning omnichannel strategy, read our report “Omnichannel – Retail’s New Battle Ground.”