Single vs. Multi vs. Omnichannel Commerce

With the boom of e-commerce, there are a lot of terms flying around out there to describe different ways of selling and communicating with your customers. Never fear, this definitions […]

With the boom of e-commerce, there are a lot of terms flying around out there to describe different ways of selling and communicating with your customers. Never fear, this definitions article is here! Let’s clear up the confusion around these similar terms, and see what the benefits of each type of commerce brings. 

Single-channel Commerce

When you sell your product through a single sales channel, you’re doing single-channel commerce. A single channel can be digital or physical. For example, if you only have an Instagram shop, that’s a single channel. If you only have a brick and mortar store, that’s another example of single-channel commerce. The main benefits of single-channel commerce are: 

  • You can keep costs low. In some cases you might be able to easily manage a single-channel set up by yourself. 
  • You can focus your efforts to optimize sales more easily. When you have only one channel to sell from, you can focus on making that channel perfect. 
  • If you’re strapped for resources, this is the best choice since you likely don’t need many employees to manage a single channel. 

Multichannel Commerce

It’s easy to confuse multichannel commerce with omnichannel. The big difference between the two is that multichannel is not integrated. You may be able to communicate and sell by phone, website, social media, mobile app, and a physical store, but the channels are separate. Frequently, small business owners and some enterprise level organizations offer a multichannel experience. You can talk to their support team through a website, write their sales team an email, and interact with their Facebook or LinkedIn account. However, the company will not necessarily be aware of how you made contact with the different channels. That’s because for multichannel, the different channels are operated in a decentralized manner. The benefits of this are: 

  • You can reach customers through multiple avenues. 
  • You can compare metrics from each channel to see which channels do best and which need work (or aren’t worth your time). 
  • Multiple channels can increase brand awareness and recognition. 

Omnichannel Commerce

Omnichannel is like multichannel, but everything is integrated for you and the customer. If something happens in one channel, you know about it by looking at one, centralized location that provides your customer data and metrics. And for the customer, everything integrates to provide a seamless shopping experience. One of the best omnichannel experiences from a buyer perspective would be Disneyland. A customer can go online and buy tickets to Disneyland from their website. When they arrive at Disneyland, if they want, they can go to a brick and mortar stand for help with the tickets they bought online. They can download an app that offers them benefits and discounts as they walk around the park. If a customer goes on a ride, at the end of the ride, they can purchase a photo of themselves screaming during the ride. Purchases can all be made using the Disneyland app, which the customer was probably already using to get information about attractions in the park. The experience is seamless because it makes everything convenient for the customer, and continually encourages them to buy things they may be interested in. The benefits of omnichannel are:

  • You get all the benefits of multichannel, but they are integrated.
  • You can potentially achieve higher sales because the customer finds it easy and convenient to move from using one channel to another.
  • You know what’s happening everywhere, and can make good marketing decisions based on the integrated data.

Omnichannel Statistics 

Omnichannel can be incredibly powerful when done right. And what’s more, there’s mounting evidence that customers expect seamless omnichannel experiences. They’re starting to be everywhere you look. For example – have you ever ordered something online, then picked it up at the store? That’s an omnichannel experience. You used a website to place the order, which is one channel, and you went to the store for pick up. The store is a second channel. Here’s another example – you call for technical support and you are connected with general support. You describe your problem, and the support technician says they need to connect you with another group that specializes in handling the problem you described. When you are connected with the specialist support technician, this counts as a separate channel. If the specialist already knows your problem, that’s an example of a great omnichannel experience. If the specialist asks you to repeat your problem, that’s an example of a not so great multichannel experience – because the information ended up siloed. 

The power of integrated omnichannel experiences comes across in these incredible statistics: 

  • “Businesses that adopt omni-channel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to business that don’t.” – Loyalty 360
  • “Companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement. – Cybra
  • “50% of consumers expect to buy online and be able to pick up in-store.” – Cybra
  • “71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.” – invesp

Build Your Omnichannel Experience with Mitto

You can start building a beautiful, custom omnichannel experience with Mitto right now. We offer no-code solutions like our Conversations app which allows you to integrate all your communication channels in one place. Or, build your own solution using our APIs or easy integrations with popular products like Hubspot, Shopify, PrestaShop and more. To find out what solution is right for your company and budget, you can talk with a dedicated omnichannel expert today