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Multi-channel vs. Omni-channel. What’s the difference?

We have all heard the terms Multi-channel and Omni-channel. What can these marketing strategies mean for your company? For an answer to that question, we need to know the difference between the two. In this short article, we'll explain just what all the fuss is about.

On an average day, we look at our mobile phones approximately 221 times. That's why the growing use of mobile phones comes with more opportunities. These two buzz-words are all about how to use new channels like Instagram or Snapchat, to reach your customers and potential new ones.

What does it mean?

To understand the difference, let’s start with a definition of each buzzword. 

Multi-channel marketing

“Multi-channel marketing is combining different distribution and promotional channels for the purpose of Marketing. Distribution channels range from a retail store front and a website to a mail-order catalog. Multi-channel marketing is about choice. The objective of companies doing the marketing is to create ease for a consumer to buy from them in whichever way is most convenient for them.”

Omni-channel marketing

“Seamless and effortless, high-quality customer experiences that occur within and between contact channels. Omni-channel supersedes multi-channel and includes channels such as physical locations, e-commerce, mobile applications, and social media.”

In your marketing strategy, it doesn’t have the be the one or the other, though there are some key differences to consider. Multi-channel is more about being wherever your customers are. If they are on Facebook, you should be on Facebook and if they are on WhatsApp, you’d better be reachable there too. Omni-channel is about creating one seamless experience across all these channels. So if I was looking to purchase a pair of jeans on your website, you can promote this pair of jeans on my Facebook and make it possible for me to buy them via Messenger. But that’s not all. Time to take a closer look.

The channel-challenge

These days, it is all about your presence on different communication channels. Consumers are using numerous platforms and chat apps. Where do you need to be present is the first question that needs to be answered? When you decided where your company should be, you can match the platform to the customer's expectation. Some channels are better just for informing customers and customer service, where others can help you sell your products more easily. 

This brings us to the largest challenge for omni-channel communication. How can you offer a consistent experience on all these channels? According to Emarsys “companies with a well-defined omni-channel customer experience strategy achieve a 91% higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate on average, compared to organisations without an omni-channel program in place.“ This requires more resources from a diversity of people with different skill sets. Omni-channel pushes the multi-channel strategy to the ultimate form of brand awareness.

Omni-channel or multi-channel?

All in all, you can have both, or start with a multi-channel strategy and start building on that experience. It all starts with knowing where your customers like to be and would like to purchase and/or contact your company. Omni-channel might seem best, but it is more challenging to implement, as it is not just about being present, but about a seamless experience. In the digital age, with so many social and chat apps the complexity of this case is growing. Luckily, the opportunities for your company do too. Are you ready for the next step in customer engagement?

Start with easily connecting to multiple channels: have a look at our Multi-channel and Omni-channel Solutions.

Multi-channel vs. Omni-channel. What’s the difference?
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