Omnichannel vs Multichannel: What’s The Difference? (With Diagrams & Examples)

customer checking for reviews on mobile phone while online shopping

You may have seen the word omnichannel marketing being thrown around by marketers. It’s almost like the new cool word. 

But what does omnichannel marketing mean? And more importantly, how is it different from multichannel marketing? 

According to Core DNA, it’s not uncommon to see the words omnichannel and multichannel marketing being used interchangeably. Both words seem to be carrying a similar meaning – except that they’re not. 

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the differences between the two words and clear your confusions once and for all. 

Let’s start with multichannel marketing. 

Multichannel marketing definition 

Sas.com defines multichannel marketing as follows: 

“Multichannel marketing refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct communication channels – websites, retail stores, mail order catalogs, direct mail, email, mobile, etc.”

Take a look at this infographic for a better picture.

multichannel and omnichannel differences explained
Source: Multichannel Merchant

Basically, it is when a company is communicating with a customer through a number of different channels.

It can be through the website, social media messaging, a customer service rep, email, or in a physical store. 

However, the catch here is that the communication isn’t integrated.

Let’s take Company Pearl as an example. 

As a customer, I checked their website for a product I really liked and decided to purchase it. However, my transaction fails. 

I call up the customer service. They seem to have no record of me or my recent transaction. I have to give them my details all over again. They still fail to track my transaction. 

I leave a negative review on their Facebook page. Their social media representative reaches out to me and wants to know the reason for my negative review. Again, I have to give them my details and recount my negative experience – because this person has no idea about my customer journey. 

As you can see, I have had interaction with Company Pearl at three different touch points – and none of them are integrated. 

man bad at customer service

This resulted in me having to give my details three different times. As a result, I do not feel appreciated as a customer. I am frustrated and it is very unlikely that I will engage with this brand again. 

Multichannel marketing is important because you need to have a few touch points for your customers to get in touch with your brand. However, the customer’s journey should be seamless, not choppy. 

Without integration, you’re giving customers a disconnected user experience. Which means they will be having the same conversation over and over again at different channels – and that’s frustrating. 

Which brings us to omnichannel marketing. 

Omnichannel marketing definition 

Omnichannel marketing is where one company is having a conversation with one customer using many different channels – but they are all integrated. 

A company is communicating with a customer through various channels – Facebook, email, phone call, physical store – and they’re all saying the same thing. 

Let’s use Company Diamond for example. 

I visit their website and found something I like and decided to purchase it. However, my transaction fails. About five minutes later, I receive an email from Company Diamond stating why my transaction has failed. 

Not too long later, someone from customer service calls me and volunteers to help me reset my account so I can try again. My password is reset, my transaction goes through, and I’m now a happy customer. I get another email confirming my transaction, along with information about delivery. 

happy customer shopping on laptop

See how I had multiple touch points with the company – and the communication was seamless? All their channels are unified to give me a smooth customer experience. 

I did not have to repeat myself at any stage and everyone at every channel was aware of my journey as a customer. 

Why omnichannel marketing is the way forward 

Omnichannel marketing is extremely important is this day and age simply because of technology. To be more precise, smartphones. 

This study also found that 73% of consumers actually use multiple channels to engage with their favorite brands when provided with the option to do so. 

People don’t just show up at a store anymore. There are a few things that take place before that.

woman checking reviews on her phone before entering the store

They will check your website for product specifications and reviews. They might call up to confirm certain details like timing. They will also check out your Facebook and Google pages. 

As a retailer, your job is to make sure that they are receiving consistent messages from all channels – especially if you have both an online and a physical store. 

Make sure your customers receiving a consistent message from all your channels with Eber.

The key takeaway here is ‘consistency’ 

To summarise, the main difference between multichannel and omnichannel marketing is consistency. 

Multichannel has various touch points – but they are all disconnected and run separate conversations. A, B, and C are saying three different things to the customer. 

Omnichannel has various touch points – and they are all integrated. A knows what B is doing, and C knows exactly what A and B said to the customer. 

In order to achieve this, make sure all your departments are working together – not in separate silos. If you treat each channel differently, you risk losing customers who are hearing different things from different channels. 

Content marketing specialist @ Eber. Can and will write all day, every day. Strongly believes that blog posts should be fun - no matter what the topic. Currently learning Spanish because her favourite football team is Real Madrid.

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