You’ve probably heard the word omnichannel because it is a buzzword that has been around for the last few years. Nevertheless, many people still confuse its meaning with another popular word – multichannel. In this article, we will explain the difference between the two and dig into the challenges you may face when implementing an omnichannel approach in your ecommerce business.

Omnichannel vs Multichannel: What’s the Difference

Nowadays, companies are investing a great deal in the development of an omnichannel experience. This happens because consumers’ lives have changed. People usually own several devices capable of reaching the internet. But they do live real lives and drop into brick and mortar cafes, restaurants, and stores. That’s why businesses adjust themselves to the latest requirements of the market and not only become bricks and clicks but also transform the way they interact with customers.

By the way, our team of engineers has recently faced the challenging task of creating an online cooking course marketplace for the French chain of restaurants to help them widen opportunities, reach new audiences both online and offline and provide a seamless experience for users. Check out our case study!

Omnichannel means a cohesive and seamless customer experience through a variety of integrated channels. This term is frequently confused with multichannel but they are quite different.

Multichannel means providing multiple independent channels where a consumer can interact with your product and buy itImagine that you sell goods through an online store, social media, catalogs, marketplaces, and retail. All these channels exist equally and offer the same product. They differ only by the way they are sold.

An omnichannel strategy refers to making these different channels connected, forcing them to work in a team together. As a result, customers get a unified experience where the online and offline presences of business are interrelated and flow through each other.

Fortunately, there are tools such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager that enable business owners to manage all of these channels painlessly. They help to track multichannel funnels, different attribution models, etc. This is impossible for brick-and-mortar stores. An online presence allows businesses to personalize data on the highest level. 

Omnichannel Best Practices

You already know how to distinguish an omnichannel strategy from its younger brother, multichannel. Now, let’s see some inspiring examples of the already implemented omnichannel experience.

Disney’s omnichannel solution starts from the website, where you can get access to all of the content produced by the company as well as plan your vacation and find out relative costs. The entertainment giant also allows customers to use the mobile app to map a route of their trip, book hotels, define attractions to attend, fine eateries, manage reservations, add friends to a list, etc. Using the app, visitors to Disney’s amusement parks can even see the wait times for rides and activities. In the park, people get wristbands and cards which serve as both hotel room keys and meal charging tools. They also help to connect photos to the particular account to make the pictures taken by Disney’s photographers visible to those who are depicted in them. 

Disney’s omnichannel solution

Oasis is a fashion retailer that has combined its e-commerce website, mobile application, and brick-and-mortar stores into a single omnichannel experience. First of all, sales representatives in the stores hold tablets and are ready to give you comprehensive and up-to-the-minute information about a product. The devices are also enabled to receive payments to be bought from anywhere in the store. If something is out of stock, a salesperson can immediately order a product to be delivered right to your door.

Oasis omnichannel solution

Orvis has won the Retailer Innovation Awards 2017 for its omnichannel solution. First, this sporting retailer discovered that the majority of its clients are wealthy seniors. Since this group of people shows an ever-growing interest in digital devices, the merchant has decided to benefit from this peculiarity. The sales assistants were provided with tablets packed with the preinstalled POS system and the ability to search, compare, and order products right from the device. Since then, customers can use assistants’ tablets to buy goods both from online and offline stores simultaneously. While filling checkout information in a store, the technology saves the user’s data to enable the marketing team to work later. The data gathered this way is used by Orvis to provide a more relevant customer experience.

After implementing the solution, Orvis observed a 10% lift in enterprise sales and a 14% growth in customer engagement.

Orvis omnichannel solution

Shopify

If you are still hesitant about the benefits of implementing an omnichannel marketing & sales approach, you should consider these figures. The coronavirus pandemic has forced brands to radically change their e-commerce strategies for 2020 to cope with ever-changing consumer behavior. Here are some of the most recent statistics:

12% More Digital Time This Year (Merkle).

10% More Time on Mobile This Year (Merkle).

79% of consumers will continue to spend more conservatively in the coming months (Merkle).

11% of advertisers expect COVID-19 to significantly impact their ad spend in Q4 (Influencer Marketing Hub).

68% of advertisers expect COVID-19 to affect their ad spend in 2021 (Influencer Marketing Hub).

62% of consumers shop online more than before the pandemic (Bazaarvoice).

3.5% less UK store traffic in the week of October 17 (Reuters).

Challenges You May Encounter When Implementing Omnichannel

It’s much easier to put a multichannel strategy into practice because everything you need is to broaden the number of channels people can interact with your brand. The case turns out to be much harder regarding omnichannel. This is about incorporating the different ways consumers buy and then making them part of a sole, consistent customer journey. Such an approach frequently requires organizational changes within your business.

The first challenge you may face is the cost of adopting the omnichannel strategy. Many store owners have a POS system that has been highly customized for their business. As well, there are order management and ERP systems. All of them have to be customized all over again in case of omnichannel implementation. Depending on your vision of future customer experience, you may even need to replace older technologies with new ones. This complicated work takes a huge investment to be done well.

If you already have a brick-and-mortar store and want to create a website, you will probably encounter the following barrier. Sales representatives who cash in on commission for in-store purchases will be resistant to letting people buy online. They’d rather sell something available there and then to a customer who doesn’t need it than encourage them to order a product on a website. Imagine how it can affect the shopping experience you provide.

To overcome this challenge, you should provide your staff with the ability to track those people who drop into the store first and then make a purchase online. You should implement such technology and pay commission for every online transaction to the sales reps who had a hand in it.

The third challenge you may face is a necessity to reorganize your business. You probably have different departments (marketing, IT, etc.) that have been successfully working for years, but when it comes to omnichannel, old methods break. The ever-changing global market requires an immediate response to its trends and tendencies. You can provide it only if you remove silos between the company’s divisions and make them cooperate with high transparency.

Final Words

More and more companies are moving to omnichannel and getting huge profits out of it, but it’s a complicated issue that can take a significant amount of time and money. If you decide to change the way you interact with a customer make sure you do it carefully. Every detail has to be pondered, and if you need some advice contact us. We will be happy to help you.