Multichannel vs Omnichannel: Which One is Best for Your Ecommerce Operation?

Learn in the article which strategy fits you and your business

Multichannel versus Omnichannel Strategy from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter via Linkedin
Elisabeth Büschler

Comparisons between omnichannel and multichannel marketing are not new. Research suggests that omnichannel strategies retain more than 89% of their customers, while more than 95% of marketers believe that multichannel marketing is integral to future success.

Although neither one of these operational strategies is better or worse than the other, it’s important to understand which approach would work best for your eCommerce business.

This article will survey the differences between both omnichannel and multichannel marketing, comparing their functions and discussing the best ways to identify a preferred strategy for multiple types of eCommerce industries.


What is Omnichannel Marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is the practice of managing a brand’s interactions with customers across multiple sales channels, including websites, social media, and brick-and-mortar stores. This is to ensure that all customer experiences are of the highest quality and consistent across all mediums.

Omnichannel marketing helps companies gain a more complete view of their customers, allowing for a higher level of customer service for consumers already engaged with a brand.

Learn more about omnichannel marketing here.


How Does Omnichannel Marketing Work?

The omnichannel marketing system was designed to connect and integrate communications and interactions across all customer touchpoints. 

It begins by collecting an enormous amount of first-party data related to the customer and their interactions with the brand. This generally involves their product preferences, messaging tastes, and communication channels of choice (such as online chat, email correspondence, etc). This data can then be used to generate insights related to customer experience, mapping the customer journey and creating solidified brand guidelines.

Brands can use the insights provided by data analytics to apply and test customer experience hypotheses. This greatly informs future decision-making, and streamlines consumer interactions with the company. Over time, it can be used to deepen customer relationships and increase retention rates.


What is Multichannel Marketing?

Multichannel marketing focuses on effectively selling products through multiple sales channels. Products are available for purchase across numerous platforms, including mail order, social media, websites and physical stores. 

This strategy focuses on customer choice above all else, enabling consumers to buy through their preferred medium.


How Does Multichannel Marketing Work?

Multichannel marketing uses multiple hosting mediums that promote and sell products. This means identifying, measuring, and implementing touchpoints in places customers tend to congregate. Data can be used to find untapped purchasing power in target audiences, thus helping companies to choose the mediums their clients prefer. By meeting customers in channels where they spend the bulk of their time, eCommerce companies can dramatically increase sales and overall profits.

The increase of sales associated with multichannel marketing is significant, up to 2.5 times greater than single channel users. Brand recall for companies that leverage two channels (radio and television) have seen better brand awareness overall, citing a 35% increase

The ease of access and availability of a product simplifies consumer purchasing decisions, and eases buyers into making confident choices.


Omnichannel vs Multichannel Marketing

The biggest difference between omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing is overall intent.

While omnichannel marketing focuses on the current customer base, multichannel marketing attempts to expand availability to untapped audiences. The omnichannel approach prefers to address the customer experience, while multichannel proponents spend their time developing new user channels. 


Omnichannel Marketing

Multichannel Marketing

Customer focusedPersonalized customer experienceAims to deliver a quality shopping experience to all customers, every time.E.g: Starbucks Mobile Ordering App. Target’s ability to order online and pickup in-store, to the store of your choosing. 

Channel focusedStrives for heightened customer engagementAims to maximize customer engagement opportunities with as many relevant channels as possible. E.g: Retail brands leveraging Instagram shopping, apps, website, and on-site outlets to convert customers. 


Customer Focused vs Channel Focused

Omnichannel marketing focuses on the customer experience above all else. By leveraging a select number of user channels, marketers enhance the consumer’s ability to move from touchpoint to touchpoint with little to no friction.

In contrast, multichannel marketing aims to leverage as many potential channels as possible. This gives customers more freedom to select their preferred engagement levels, making decisions based on location and availability.


Customer Experience vs Customer Engagement

Omnichannel marketing focuses on improving an existing customer’s experience with a brand. This typically targets those who already have awareness of the company and interact on a regular basis. Because this strategy puts such a heavy emphasis on users with existing relationships, it’s often used by more established eCommerce businesses.

Conversely, multichannel marketing focuses on improving customer engagement across platforms. By casting a wide net across multiple channels, these marketers are primarily focused on engaging the largest number of possible users. This strategy is most suitable for companies on the hunt for a larger audience.


Quality of Customer Support vs Number of Channels

Omnichannel marketing strategies are almost always focused on quality over quantity. All customer support centers are linked up between channels, allowing users to pick up where they left off. The quality of customer service is paramount, pushing eCommerce companies to choose highly vetted, professional providers. Additional customer support is offered through all associated channels, which enhances the customer experience.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, multichannel marketing focuses on quantity over quality. The strategy is mainly interested in using as many channels as possible to promote brand awareness and drive customer intent directly to the checkout line. However, it’s important to note that each of these channels is managed separately. Very little data and personalization is used to make customer movements seamless, which can slow down the decision-making process. If consumers decide to move from one marketing channel to another (e.g. Facebook to email), they will need to start the entire decision-making process over again. 


Omnichannel vs Multichannel: Which is Best for You?

When compared side by side, both omnichannel and multichannel marketing have a number of similarities and it can be difficult to select a marketing approach that meets the needs of individual companies, particularly at younger growth stages. 

However, there may be one approach that outclasses the other in terms of viability in specific markets.


Your eCommerce company might choose to leverage a multichannel marketing approach if:

  • The organization needs to focus on maximizing channels rather than maximizing existing customer experiences.
  • Your business is heavily invested in customer engagement metrics, and looking for ways to increase brand awareness and the buyer pool.
  • Long-term goals are specifically designed to better engage, inform, and interest new customers and leads.


On the other hand, your eCommerce company might choose to leverage an omnichannel marketing approach if:

  • The organization is more heavily focused on customer-centric marketing rather than channel outreach.
  • Your business is looking for ways to maximize personalization for existing shoppers, especially through cross-selling.
  • Long-term goals are centered around boosting customer satisfaction and happiness with the brand over time.

Ultimately, a successful marketing strategy can benefit from integrating both styles. As both brand reach and customer experience are vital components of successful conversions, it’s important to find a healthy balance in order to maximize future results. Lean on additional tools,  such as an enterprise resource planning system, to integrate your favorite marketing applications into one place and streamline your operational processes. Learn more about how to overcome mutli and omnichannel marketing challenges with an ERP system by booking a Xentral demo today. 

No matter how your organization strives to meet the needs of your customers, expect to see a gradual uptick in happiness, retention, and engagement.


As a micro-roastery, we could also work without an ERP system. But if you want to grow and not get lost in processes, then it is very important to have a software where you can find everything in one place.

Elisabetta Epping-Rossi

Founder and CEO

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Elisabeth Büschler
She is passionate about innovative brands and content - which is why Xentral, with its more than 1,700 start-ups and SMEs, is the perfect place for her. Her motivation is to take the Xentral community to the next level with helpful content.

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