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The Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel: Which Is Better, and Why?

In the era of hyper-connected customers, the debate over the difference between multichannel and omnichannel strategies is more important than ever.  The goal of reaching customers is the same, but the methods for achieving it are different for each strategy. Companies have to pick one strategy and implement it since it will affect every department in the company for a long time. But are they really so different?

Multichannel marketing revolves around the product. This strategy makes it so that customers can arrive organically to the company through their chosen channel. All platforms work together, but separately. This means that each platform provides sales opportunities individually and in combination.

On the other hand, an omnichannel strategy is customer centric. The key to an omnichannel retail strategy is creating a unique, personalized experience across all the channels. Brands communicate the same way on all platforms which removes friction that causes shoppers to abandon their possible purchases.

Both approaches are valid and useful, and are ultimately very similar. Which of the two strategies is better for my business? Do both work, or do I need to pick one based on my type of business?

We want to help you answer these questions by showing you the pros and cons of each one.

The pros and cons of a multichannel marketing strategy

Pros:

It’s more flexible since it lets customers decide which channel they want to use to interact with the brand.

It’s more diverse since it lets you provide different offers depending on the channel.

The wide range of available channels lets you reach a bigger audience.

The combination of traditional channels (TV, radio, newspapers) and digital channels (digital marketing, social networks, blogs) lets you achieve better results.

Cons:

You have to create a cohesive and consistent marketing campaign that transmits the same messages on every channel.

You need two or more channels to work together for the strategy to be successful.

It’s more time consuming, since you need to find a message that works on every platform and can reach any audience. Optimizing each platform individually also requires more time.

Gaining insights from analytics is more complicated because you have to work with different tools for each channel.

The pros and cons of an omnichannel marketing strategy

Pros:

Messages are closer to the customer, since this customer centric approach is based around their interests and point of view. A customer centric strategy helps companies stand out in an oversaturated market.

It provides a unique, personalized, customer focused experience that lets customers interact with different platforms easily, directly and organically.

It is based on interactions. Gaining insights from interactions and adapting messages based on those insights makes you more efficient and helps reduce costs.

You will constantly observe and learn from your audience, helping you update messages in real time.

Cons:

Developing messages is more complicated since you have to approach customers as if you weren’t selling them anything.

It requires more data and analytics which can be complicated if you don’t have appropriate data extraction systems.

You have to have an open conversation with customers which can be a problem if you provide bad products or services, or if there is a problem with customer service. All areas of the company must be committed to excellence.

So, which should I choose for my company?

As you can see, it isn’t easy to pick one over the other, as both have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that an omnichannel strategy includes multichannel, and not the other way around.

After all, in a world where technology is becoming more and more pervasive, companies should bet on systems that allow for data-driven decision making, which is one of the benefits of omnichannel. Especially since this continues to give companies an important competitive edge over the competition in 2019. If it’s going to be standard in a few years, why not start now?

Guiomar Fernandez
guiomar.fernandez@beabloo.com