Omni-Channel vs. Multi-Channel: What's Right For Your Brand?

Both multi and omni-channel strategies involve selling across multiple physical and digital channels, but the key difference is how the customer experience plays out across all the channels before, during and after purchases. A simple way to distinguish between the two is by remembering omni-channel means “all” channels, while multi-channel refers to “many” channels. Basically multi-channel  means a less integrated approach then omni-channel  and allows customers to purchase natively wherever they prefer to shop. So which option is right for your brand and do you have the resources to support it?

Understanding Multi-Channel

Multi-channel works to connect different distribution and promotional channels for the purpose of marketing. Distribution channels can range from in-store, Amazon, website, social media, print catalogs- anyway the buyer can purchase your product.  It offers the buyer many choices in order to make it easier for them to buy in whatever way best fits their needs. Each distribution channel exists as a separate purchasing opportunity in this approach and what channels you prioritize comes down to your product, the channel themselves, and good old fashioned testing.

The key with taking a multi-channel approach isn’t to simply list your products on marketplaces … but to go native- make the experiences on all the channels unique.

Understanding Omni-Channel

The omni-channel strategy was built around the idea that offering a seamless shopping experience in brick-and-mortar stores and through a variety of digital channels not only differentiates retailers from their competitors, but also gives them a competitive edge over online-only retailers by leveraging their store assets. Omni-channel works to remove barriers between different sales and marketing channels to create a unified, integrated whole like-minded experience for the customer. The customer is at the center of this strategy and the channels- whether it be onsite, social, mobile, email, physical, or instant messaging — disappear as a single view of the customer as well as a single experience of commerce emerge.

The big idea in omni-channel is that every customer interaction influences and changes their overall experience of your product and brand.

Omni-channel might seem like the better approach to take when looking to create a smoother shopping experience, but it is not a one-size fits all and you should proceed with consideration before deciding to take this approach. Many brands are better off starting with a multi-channel experience between tying everything together into an omni-channel approach. You’ll need to make sure you have the right people, processes and technology in place and crawl, walk, run, sprint, pivot and SPRINT to tackle an effective omni-channel strategy.

So, how much must your brand invest to achieve some viable progress using a multi-channel or omni-channel approach? Which is best for your business at this phase of your journey?  If you are interested in learning more about multi-channel and omni-channel strategy, contact our experts at Echidna today.

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