Omnichannel or multichannel? Which one, why and how? By Karan Kukreja, Phygital Now

By Karan Kukreja, Phygital Now

Omnichannel and multichannel, we hear these two terms used frequently – and often interchangeably – but in the world of marketing, they are different. Two very distinct and separate strategies, even though both focus on the use of multiple channels to reach consumers and potential consumers.

First, let’s look at the definitions:

Multichannel refers to the ability to interact with prospective consumers through various channels, including social media, mobile, direct mail, print ads, landing pages, and websites. Each channel operates independently from the other marketing channels, and each abides by its own outlined strategy and goals. It allows brands to expand its reach to a multitude of channels and interact with prospective consumers who may not use the single platform that is targeted via single-channel marketing.

Omnichannel, on the other hand, is immersive and puts the consumer, not your product, at the core. It’s about communicating in ways that are aligned with why they use a given channel and showing awareness of their individual stage in the consumer lifecycle. Consumers can purchase wherever they are—rather than treating channels as independent silos, omnichannel accounts for the spillover between channels and offers consumer experiences within and between channels

Second, let’s understand which one to pick and why?

Consumers today are tech savvy, now more so than ever. They are demanding personalisation and for brands to present them with a range of product/service options. They expect the modern-day shopping experience to feel seamless and effortless. While both omnichannel and multichannel work with multiple channels, the former creates a better experience for the consumer. In my opinion, marketers must make the shift to focus on omnichannel efforts as it allows you to:

  1. Deliver a better, consumer-centric experience. As data is shared across channels, it creates an easier shopping experience and stronger brand connection, moving the consumer towards a purchase.
  2. Make smarter decisions. Analysing data from multiple channels holistically makes it easier to extract valuable insight that might get missed when viewed in isolation. You need to understand these data streams to meet your consumers’ needs and demands.
  3. Extract greater efficiencies. Integration of consumer service, sales, marketing, inventory and resource planning would mean centralised and effective communication with each other to provide on-demand information leading to increased productivity.
  4. Earn more revenue. Retargeting can adapt to suggest more relevant products, discount offers can be increased based on behaviour, and abandoned carts can trigger physical mail campaigns. In addition, promotions can be used online and in-store, via centrally connected POS systems. All leading to increased opportunities to transact.

Lastly, here are a three essential steps to get you started:

  1. Change the mindset. The biggest challenge is to change the mindset of the organisation and truly become consumer-centric. Sales and marketing teams who have been operating in silos, managing their respective channels (store, e-commerce, app) will need to collaborate towards the common goal of winning the consumer. Ideally there should be one sales target and not a channel-wise target, or else we will be back to running a multichannel operation. We must certainly look into channel wise performance to optimise but it shouldn’t be the yardstick to measure the performance of the company.
  2. Better understand your consumer. Know where your consumers are, and on which devices and platforms. Analyse the acquisition data in Google Analytics (or any other analytics tool) to have a better view of the channels they are using. Use audience behaviour data to create several personas of your consumers. Use technology to build an experience like no other for your consumer. An experience rich with content, ease of discovery and transaction following their natural path to purchase.
  3. Integrate and continuously measure. Connect all sales channels and advertising channels and analyse to unearth insights that will enable the creation of a seamless experience. Ensure that this information is shared throughout the organisation. When all channels are connected and work in harmony, consumers will get a better experience. They will have a consistent response and service wherever they interact with you. Monitor your performance regularly and keep optimising using all of the data that is being collected, thereby continuously enhancing consumer satisfaction.

With the modern consumer swinging from smartphone to Amazon Echo to smartwatch — and back again, it’s no longer enough for businesses to have an isolated presence on each device. What’s needed is a comprehensive, seamless, and enjoyable consumer experience that spans the digital landscape.