Omnichannel vs. multichannel eCommerce

Mariluz Sampalo
Mariluz Sampalo
Oct 11, 2022
omnichannel ecommerce, the trend you need to be ready for

Omnichannel eCommerce. You’ve probably already heard or read this buzzword. But what exactly does omnichannel eCommerce mean and how does it differ from multichannel eCommerce?

Keep reading to find out and discover the best strategy for your business, and find examples of omnichannel eCommerce platforms and multichannel commerce software.

What is omnichannel eCommerce?

Omnichannel eCommerce is a selling and marketing strategy and even a philosophy in itself that is built around the customer purchasing journey.

Omnichannel eCommerce businesses aim to build an omnichannel customer experience where the buyer and brand are in contact, seamlessly, across all channels and devices.

To create an omnichannel experience for your customers, you’ll first need to know which devices they use throughout their customer journey and on which platforms and channels they expect to find you. These are the digital touchpoints of your eCommerce business, and they are extremely important.

What is multichannel eCommerce?

Similar to omnichannel eCommerce is multichannel eCommerce. However, multichannel eCommerce businesses simply operate in more than one channel. This is the case of stores selling through a brick and mortar store and online, or online stores selling on Amazon and their own website.

Using more than one sales channel is a smart way to reach more customers and sell more products, diversifying the risks that come with single-channel online stores.

Difference between multichannel and omnichannel

Multichannel is a strategy used to increase the number of sales and marketing channels an online store has, while omnichannel selling focuses on building a seamless customer experience by connecting with potential customers across the platforms they expect to find you on.

Having said this, we can affirm that multichannel is more product-focused, while omnichannel is customer-oriented.

The goal of omnichannel eCommerce is to increase convenience for the customer and improve customer relations, rather than purely boosting sales.

Multichannel vs. omnichannel, what’s your take? For us, multichannel offers a good opportunity to solve the issues that come with eCommerce pure players or brick-and-mortar-only stores, but it’s not enough if you are committed to building a great customer experience, as well as increasing brand visibility and amplifying the possibilities to reach new types of customers.

These sales channels are often a blend of marketplace listings, social media sites, retailers, websites, brick-and-mortar stores, and other online shopping channels.

What is an omnichannel experience?

An omnichannel experience is focused on improving the customer experience by providing quality connections between customer and brand across different buying channels.

An omnichannel customer experience — as opposed to multichannel eCommerce — provides a holistic approach to the business and the way it interacts with customers.

Customers go to a social media platform and find your brand through an ad on their way to work, they browse reviews on their desktop when they go home, and purchase from their bed with their tablet or smartphone, enjoying all the benefits of mobile commerce.

Having all these channels connected is one of the best ways to remove friction from the purchasing journey and create a fluid process between different online and offline channels. It’s a practice that’s wholly user-focused since the user is the only consistent factor.

Multichannel eCommerce software

Wix Enterprise, Sellercloud, and Ecwid are some multichannel eCommerce software systems that can be helpful for online stores looking for ways to connect their sales channels.

Multichannel eCommerce software should be a link between sales channels to streamline sales operations and make sure that inventory is synchronized & updated constantly to avoid stock-outs and bottlenecks in the production or delivery stages.

Omnichannel eCommerce platforms

Shopify Plus, Adobe Commerce, SellerChamp, and Algolia are some of the most popular examples of omnichannel eCommerce platforms.

Omnichannel eCommerce platforms provide flexibility and the ability to adapt to all the needs of your business and customers. You can connect your marketing, sales, and support channels to build a powerful customer database and promote your strengths while you improve points of friction.

If you already have your omnicommerce set and running, working with a platform like Outvio is a great choice to consider if you want to streamline your operations, build customer loyalty, and increase efficiency and profitability in the long run.

Business benefits of an omnichannel approach

Digital technologies are fully integrated into the customers’ everyday life. This is why creating an omnichannel eCommerce experience is expected by customers, and why being an omnichannel eCommerce business is simply the bare minimum you can do to attract sales.

Opting for an omnichannel approach will ensure you have happy and loyal customers thanks to a seamless purchasing experience and a stronger connection between brand and buyer.

When all of your channels are connected, naturally you are saving time and money because of the increase in efficiency thanks to a more joined-up approach.

The connection between channels will ensure a cohesive brand message. This has positive effects when it comes to creating brand awareness and a solid branding strategy.

An omnichannel eCommerce business will also benefit from access to more customer information. With this data, online stores can know their points of success and failures, and find out why buyers purchase or why they abandon their shopping carts.

An omnichannel eCommerce platform gathers all the data in a single system, making it easy to track, measure, and evaluate to take actions to solve aspects of your business that need improvement.

An omnichannel experience has benefits for employees, too since the way they work, provide help, sell, or market will be based on data-driven decisions, easy access to information, and an optimized communication channel with customers.

3 great omnichannel retailing examples

Amazon

Amazon has many aces up their sleeve, their omnichannel strategy being just one of them.

amazon's take on omnichannel ecommerce

Not only does Amazon have an app and website that are automatically synced, but they also create an omnichannel customer experience by enabling payment methods the customer expects to find.

Additionally, Amazon provides an enhanced customer experience to buyers using Amazon Prime, which gives them access to other benefits on any device or platform.

Moreover, Amazon has stepped out of the physical product online shopping, thanks to the release of digital products such as movies, TV shows, music, ebooks, and even storage space!

Apple

One of the main reasons behind Apple’s success is the focus they have always had on the customer.

Apple stepped away from its competitors with the iCloud system, among other things. This innovative approach is similar to what Google does, but is for physical products instead. It connects all the Apple devices a user has to create an omnichannel customer experience.

And, while this seems difficult to imitate as a smaller company, simply ensuring that your customers don’t need to repeat information across all channels they contact you through is an easy way to do this.

However, you can go the extra mile and go beyond the products you already offer. In the case of Apple: iPads, iPhones, Macs, AirPods, or watches. As famous and representative these products are for Apple, they aren’t limiting themselves to the physical experience. Why? Because they are well aware that omnichannel customer experiences are the future!

Offering all kinds of entertainment and useful services such as Apple Wallet, Apple Cards, or the above-mentioned iCloud is the hot-take we receive when we think of omnichannel and Apple.

apple is one example of omnichannel experience

Sephora

Sephora is a multi-brand beauty retailer that uses an omnichannel approach to create a purchasing journey that connects online and in-store experiences.

Sephora has perfected the connection between the digital experience and in-store events to promote sales regardless of the buyer profile. If you go to one of their shops, you can use a tablet to access your account and buy those products you added to your cart while browsing at home.

You can use their auto-replenish feature to buy your go-to products through a subscription service or use AI to choose the best shades and colors for each skin color.

sephora has connected the online experience with in-store visits in its omnichannel business strategy

Sephora makes purchasing from a wide catalog easier by keeping track of the preferences and purchase history of every customer, while they promote new products in a way that doesn’t feel too pushy.

sephora's website is customized to every buyer, creating an omnichannel ecommerce experience

Steps to create an omnichannel customer experience

To create the perfect omnichannel customer experience for your business, first you’ll need to know what your buyer persona is — the real one, not the one you imagine to have.

1. Research your target audience

Study the interests, needs, and lifestyle of your customer by asking them for reviews or analyzing the data you already have.

2. Select channels and define the purpose of each

Once you know what your customer is like, you’ll need to build an online presence on that channel and define what the purpose of each channel will be. For instance, you can use Instagram to promote products, interact with customers and give discounts while you keep your email marketing strategy focused on updates about their orders.

3. Connect all your channels 

For this, you’ll need to choose the right omnichannel eCommerce platform for your business and connect all channels that are part of your interactions with the customer: ads, online store, physical store, social media platforms, and any other channel that you may use.

4. Maintain and perfect your omnicommerce strategy

Last, but not least, make sure to keep those channels up to date with regular interactions and make sure to test and improve your omnichannel customer experience strategy to foster customer loyalty and retention through brand awareness and an impeccable purchasing journey.

FAQ

What is the difference between omnichannel and eCommerce?

These terms refer to different things, although they tend to appear together. Omnichannel means “all channels”, while eCommerce is the commercialization of products online.

What is an omnichannel example?

One of the best examples of an omnichannel strategy is an online store that uses social media to attract customers and promote products, connecting their customers to the checkout page on Amazon or their online store, creating a seamless shopping experience.

Is Amazon an omnichannel eCommerce?

Amazon isn’t an omnichannel eCommerce per se, but many online stores use Amazon to sell their products to different audiences or expand to other markets at a lower cost and risk.

Is Shopify an omnichannel eCommerce platform?

Shopify is a great example of an omnichannel eCommerce platform when you are subscribed to one of the higher plans, like Shopify Advanced or Shopify Plus, which provides even more omnichannel possibilities.

Conclusion

Keeping up with the ever-changing eCommerce industry isn’t always easy. Because of customers’ habits, omnichannel eCommerce businesses are shifting from the single-channel approach or multichannel strategy, creating an omnichannel customer experience.

This brings benefits to customers, employees, and the brand itself: increased customer loyalty, larger access to customer data, more efficient operations, and a considerable amount of resources such as time and money saved because of the connections between channels.

If you are ready to build an omnichannel eCommerce business, take inspiration from our omnichannel retailing examples and start creating your own omnicommerce store in four simple steps: research, channel selection, connection of channels, and maintenance.

To take your omnichannel to the next level, start using Outvio and connect the dots by having all of your eCommerce processes communicate with each other

Create a seamless branded shopping experience with the right messaging at the right point of the purchasing journey.

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