The eCommerce retail industry generated USD 5.7 trillion in sales in 2022 alone. These numbers alone show that eCommerce is an integral part of the daily lives of individuals everywhere. But in the digital world, it’s easy for your products to be passed over for another or forgotten about entirely because customers can be fickle with their purchases. Customer experience becomes the gauge for success, which is where omnichannel and multichannel retail comes in.
Omnichannel vs multichannel retail are types of approaches to the eCommerce industry where it integrates different digital assets to attain a singular goal, to convert customers. We deep-dive into the difference between omnichannel vs multichannel retail strategies in this blog.
What is Omnichannel Retail?
The first type of retail strategy that we’ll tackle is the omnichannel. Omnichannel retail makes use of a singular platform for your company’s eCommerce operations. Large companies such as Amazon, Sephora, and Starbucks make use of this retail strategy. This way they present solid branding and a consistent service experience for all of their clients.
When you utilize an omnichannel retail strategy, your company will have a more customer-centric approach and you aim to interact with your clients during different points in their buyer’s journey. Using this strategy, you can provide your clients with a streamlined purchasing process across all your eCommerce platforms.
Omnichannel requires the company to integrate sales, marketing, inventory management, logistics, and IT into one system to fulfill customer transactions. An excellent omnichannel example would be Amazon. If you’ve ever used any of their services or purchased any of their products, you’ll know how efficient their systems are.
We talk more about Amazon’s fool-proof omnichannel retail system below:
Omnichannel Savant: Amazon
The eCommerce giant that’s wielding the omnichannel strategy exceptionally well is Amazon. Amazon is known for providing its customers with a seamless checkout experience. Whether you’re shopping from your phone, desktop, or at a Whole Foods store, you’re guaranteed a smooth transaction. This is because Amazon has created a network of well-oiled systems that work in synergy to collect customer information. This network also maps out their buying process and provides an easier checkout experience.
Additionally, Amazon’s inventory management system ensures that the closest fulfillment warehouse to the customer’s location gets the order. This helps in minimizing the time it takes for clients to acquire their items. Aside from Amazon’s remarkable logistics solutions, their system management is key in accomplishing their two-day and same-day delivery guarantees. Amazon also provides its Prime customers with a myriad of benefits to keep them in the eCommerce giant’s ecosystem.
Amazon’s extremely convenient retail process eliminates the boundaries between sales and marketing channels to provide customers with a seamless purchasing journey. You’ll notice that Amazon uses its marketing channel to send specific ads to customers, depending on where they are on the sales funnel so, that they’re moved to act on their purchase.
So, let’s say that you’re looking to purchase a new pair of hiking boots. You input hiking boots into Google’s search bar, and you’ll see Amazon’s advertisement appear on the sponsored posts banner. Amazon will show you a pair of top-reviewed hiking boots at the best price you can find on the internet. Once you click on it, you’ll go straight to the product’s page. You may even find items that are frequently bought with that item.
This is how Amazon keeps you in their eCommerce channel. They provide you with an excellent deal and with a list of products that you may want as well.
What is Multichannel Retail?
If omnichannel provides a customer-centric experience, multichannel is focused on a product. A company that uses multichannel retail will target you through different sales channels that drive you to purchase the product. People who often use this channel will have multiple interactions with a brand but on various platforms.
People often use multichannel to increase interactions with their products while offering them various fulfillment options to provide them with a convenient experience. Multichannel focuses on elevating product awareness, increasing online presence, and becoming more accessible to its consumers. Goals that Apple has executed flawlessly.
Multichannel Expert: Apple
Apple is known for its innovative devices, software, and services that are designed to perform. While Apple has its official retail stores, it also makes partners with other channels. For example, Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart sell Apple’s products, so that they become more accessible to the market.
Each of these channels has its own set of values, target market, and customer base that increase Apple’s reach. While multichannel extends Apple’s reach and makes them more accessible to clients, it becomes tricky for the company to ensure a consistent customer experience across its channels. Apple won’t have the benefit of seeing their real-time stocks and sales.
To demonstrate, let’s say that a client wants to purchase a new iPhone, so they conduct a search on Google to find the nearest store that stocks the item. It says that the nearest location for them to purchase the unit is at Best Buy or an Apple Store. They head over to Best Buy ready to make their purchase but, upon arriving the sales associate tells them that they’re out of stock for that product. The customer feels frustrated and is forced to go to the Apple Store to purchase the item.
Now, even if the customer leaves the Apple Store with a brand-new iPhone, they’re still left with a bad impression of Apple because of their experience in Best Buy.
While Apple has effectively utilized the multichannel to provide customers with different touchpoints for their products, they cannot control the operations of their partner channels, which can lead to mixed customer experiences.
Omnichannel vs Multichannel Retail: Which One Is Better?
Ultimately, the choice between omnichannel vs multichannel retail depends on your brand’s goals, budget, and marketing plan. Each channel has its own set of benefits from ease of inventory management to costs, and reach.
So, for example, multichannel can be beneficial for your brand’s goals if you’re looking to expand its reach but, it can be more expensive in the long run if you add up the multiple business channels that you must pay for. Monitoring inventory in a multichannel retail setup can also be more difficult.
Omnichannel on the other hand can be more costly to set up, but inventory management and keeping a consistent customer experience are a lot easier when you’re running everything from one place.
For small companies, it may be easier to start with an omnichannel retail system to get the process down before scaling it up and adding other merchants into the mix. But for this strategy to work, you’ll want to have a seamless backend experience, which can require more technical expertise in setting up the infrastructure.
*Terms & Conditions apply
Choosing the Right One
While omnichannel vs multichannel both present their advantages and disadvantages, the key part in ensuring that your business continues to develop is to manage administrative affairs effectively. This means responding to customer concerns and providing a seamless checkout experience. Also, it means having an inventory system that’ll keep you well-stocked for your clients.
Whether you’re choosing omnichannel or multichannel, you’ll need to have an integrated inventory system. This way you can grow your business and provide you with the data you need to make smart decisions. If you’re looking for an inventory management system that can help you keep track of your products, you can rely on Megaventory to provide you with an easy-to-use software.
Bernard San Juan III is the Managing Partner of Truelogic who comes from a successful career in online companies, where he played a critical role in building & managing workforce groups. He has redesigned the organization’s IT infrastructure to improve order processing and logistics. His skills include managing performance and training. He also manages overall sales, customer satisfaction, graphic design, copywriting, and training with first-line supervisors.