Omnichannel vs Multichannel: What are Their Key Differences?

As technology advances, so does the way we shop. Gone are the days where brick and mortar stores reigned supreme, as online shopping has become increasingly popular. 

eCommerce has revolutionized the way we shop, and there are two main approaches eCommerce businesses are taking: omnichannel and multichannel. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing so you can decide which approach is right for you. 

What is Omnichannel? 

Omnichannel refers to a business whose online operations and physical storefront work together.

Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that provides customers with a seamless, integrated shopping experience, no matter where they are or what device they’re on. 

In essence, it’s providing a consistent customer experience across multiple channels. This can include social media, websites, mobile apps, emails, and even brick-and-mortar stores. By using an omnichannel approach, companies can ensure that their customers feel valued and that their brand is always top-of-mind.

What are the Advantages of Omnichannel eCommerce?

Omnichannel eCommerce allows customers to interact with your brand through a variety of channels, including online, mobile, brick-and-mortar stores, social media, and more. 

Here are some of the key benefits:

  • It provides a seamless experience for customers, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty
  • This type of marketing meets customers where they are with a variety of purchasing options
  • Customers who shop across multiple channels are more likely to spend more 
  • It’s more convenient and flexible for busy shoppers 
  • Omnichannel marketing can give you a more accurate view of your inventory levels across channels
  • It reduces the chance of overselling and stock-outs
  • It also provides a comprehensive view of your customers’ behavior and preferences

Finally, by offering more online and mobile purchasing options, you can reduce the costs associated with operating physical stores and potentially reach new markets without the added overhead.

What is Multichannel?

Multichannel retail is the practice of selling products or services using multiple channels at the same time. These channels include online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, search engines like Google, and of course, your own eCommerce website. 

What are the Advantages of Multi-Channel eCommerce?

Unlike omnichannel eCommerce, multichannel allows you to sell on multiple platforms without the need to ensure a consistent experience across all of them. This means you save costs on developing customizations for each platform and can use the off-the-shelf solutions. 

Here are some of the other key benefits:

  • You can target different customer groups on different platforms based on their preferences, which enhances their experience
  • It allows you to reach customers through several platforms and tailor to their needs
  • It gives you more opportunity to engage on a personal level 
  • You can have a more diversified customer base
  • Your odds of SEO recognition are higher 

As an eCommerce entrepreneur, you aim to engage with as many customers as possible. The beauty of multichannel eCommerce is that it allows you to reach out to customers through several platforms, tailor to their specific needs, and provide a unique experience. 

Especially in this era, no customer wants to feel like they are one of many in the same category. Hence, multichannel provides you with the perfect opportunity to engage customers on a more personal level.

Omnichannel vs Multichannel: What is The Difference? 

Omnichannel generally refers to a business that has both brick and mortar shops and online operations, and these work in tandem. Multichannel, on the other hand, refers to a business that also has both of these physical and online storefronts, but the operations exist separately, rather than in an integrated fashion. 

Ultimately, the approach taken by businesses will depend on their goals, resources, and customer base. Regardless of the approach, the end goal is to provide customers with a shopping experience that is seamless, engaging, and tailored to their needs. 

After all, more than 80% of customers report shopping across at least three channels in the last six months – and 93% of them say they are willing to spend more on companies that don’t require them to repeat themselves. That’s significant!

Age & Budget of BusinessCan be costly and complex, requiring integration between various channelsGood for businesses just starting out, as it provides “more bang for the buck” with targeted resources
Level of PersonalizationMore easily personalized for better brand consistencyHarder to maintain brand consistency across channels 
Number of ChannelsMultiple channels, integrated togetherMultiple channels, not integrated
Storefront LocationCan be online and physicalCan be online and physical 

Is Omnichannel the Same as Multichannel?

In short, no. Omnichannel is a strategy used by businesses to provide a seamless shopping experience to customers across all channels, while multichannel is simply the process of selling using multiple channels that are not integrated. 

Simply put, it allows businesses to offer a consistent experience, whether customers shop online, in-store, or through a mobile device. An omnichannel approach helps businesses integrate their digital and physical platforms, allowing customers to move freely between channels without having to start the buying process from scratch.

In essence, omnichannel is exactly the same as multichannel, except all sales channels are connected and working together (rather than turning as separate gears in the equation).

What Are Some Examples of Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Approaches?

Are you curious about how omnichannel and multichannel approahces work in action? 

Amazon: Omnichannel Approach 

Let’s take a closer look at one of the giants of eCommerce – Amazon.

One of the ways Amazon uses omnichannel retail is by leveraging its Prime membership program. Prime members enjoy free two-day shipping, early access to sales, and other benefits. Amazon has successfully integrated its brick-and-mortar stores, online platform, mobile app, and social media presence by allowing Prime members to shop via any of these channels.

Here are a few more ways Amazon uses omnichannel marketing:

  • Its delivery and shipping options – various options to suit customers’ needs.
  • Amazon Lockers –  customers can also have their purchases shipped to secure lockers located in various convenient locations.
  • A data driven approach – used to personalize the customer experience across channels, such as via data antlyatics to recommend prodcuts based on browsing and purchase history
  • Social commerce – incorporating social media platforms like Instagram into its omnichannel strategy.
  • Excellent customer service – Amazon’s help center and customer service have been designed to provide a seamless experience, regardless of the channel used to contact them. 

Gymshark: Multichannel Approach

Next, let’s look at a company that’s been successful with the multichannel approach – Gymshark.

Gymshark is a new but quickly growing fitness and apparel brand. After a devastating Black Friday outage, Gymshark moved to Shopify Plus and found that this growth strategy resulted in a massive ROI due to its social media campaign. 

Gymshark has built a massive following across social media platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. They share their story, showcase new products, share workout routines, and create interesting content to engage with their audience. Gymshark leverages this multichannel approach to complement their retail strategy by using social media to expand their reach and engage with their customers.

Key Takeaways

Both multichannel and omnichannel eCommerce offer benefits and involve multiple marketing channels – the key difference between omnichannel vs. multichannel eCommerce is simply whether those channels are integrated and work together. 

Whether you’re doing this via a multichannel or omnichannel eCommerce approach doesn’t matter as much as it does if you are using more than one channel. 90% of customers expect a consistent experience across channels. Give them what they want!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Multichannel customer service involves using different channels of communication to reach out to your customers, such as social media, emails, or phone calls. Omnichannel customer service provides a seamless experience across these channels.

Amazon is an example of both multichannel and omnichannel customer service, depending on what part of their business you look at. For example, Amazon's customer service team is available through various channels like chatbots, emails, or phone, but when it comes to logistics and delivery, it is omnichannel.

Omnichannel is an approach to customer service that can be applied to any industry, while eCommerce refers to buying or selling goods online.


Adaline Lefe Mary John

Adaline Lefe Mary John

A great researcher and creator, Adaline is responsible for planning and managing content for all our websites. She has over 10 years of experience in creating and managing content.

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