Omnichannel vs Multichannel Ecommerce: Explaining the Difference
By Blueport Team Aug 11, 2022 1:00:09 PM
The ecommerce revolution of the furniture industry has changed a lot, including the way consumers want to shop.
Although brick and mortar stores will remain a core component of the buyer’s journey, the adoption of ecommerce strategies is crucial to providing a seamless customer shopping experience. However, it’s important to remember that not all ecommerce strategies are the same.
To keep up with industry demands and provide the best experience for your shoppers, you’ll need to understand your ecommerce strategy options. Here, we’ll discuss omnichannel vs multichannel ecommerce strategies so you can decide which one is the right decision for your business.
What Is Omnichannel Ecommerce?
The omnichannel approach is an integrated strategy that allows shoppers to move between touchpoints and pick up where they left off, even if that was on another channel. No matter how they want to shop, omnichannel strategies connect all touchpoints through data synchronization.
This allows your customers to move between your retail store, website, social media profiles, and more — all while maintaining the progress they’ve already made.
An Example of an Omnichannel Ecommerce Experience
For example, a customer may begin their research on Instagram by scrolling through your business’s page. Once they’ve clicked through to your website, they might add an item to a list of their favorite products.
Once they’ve done this, you can use your marketing and data tools to send them personalized suggestions of similar or complementary products to keep them engaged with your store. As the customer continues their research, you can improve their experience through thoughtful personalization.
After the customer has engaged with several products and done more research, they might be ready to come into the store and complete their purchase. By adding the items to their online cart and beginning the process, they can then come into the store to confirm and finalize their purchase with your sales team.
This, of course, is just one of the many possibilities. With an omnichannel experience, customers have the opportunity to create their own, personalized shopping journeys.
The Omnichannel Strategy and Integrations
Since this strategy calls for seamless transitions between channels, success depends on smooth integrations, such as with your business's ERP system. These integrations must be set up properly so that the shopping experience is not interrupted or inconsistent. There is also a need for flexibility so that your omnichannel strategy can adapt to industry trends as they emerge.
What Are the Benefits of an Omnichannel Ecommerce Strategy?
An omnichannel ecommerce strategy can benefit your furniture business in several ways, including:
A Synchronized Brand Experience
Every interaction presents the same experience, which helps your brand become unmistakable to potential and existing customers. Plus, you’ll give your customers a seamless shopping journey by connecting online and in-store experiences.
For example, a shopper will see the real-time availability of an item across channels, creating a seamless experience through all stages of the buyer’s journey.
Since furniture buying journeys are often longer than the average ecommerce journey, you have an extended opportunity to delight your customers. Each time a customer interacts with your business, you can use the data to personalize their experience.
For example, if a shopper browses for the same item on social media and on your website, you can begin retargeting campaigns for similar and complementary products. Plus, you can showcase promotions for the products the customers are viewing so they can feel confident about making their purchase for the right price.
What Are the Challenges of Implementing an Omnichannel Ecommerce Strategy?
When comparing omnichannel vs multichannel ecommerce, it’s crucial to know the pros and cons of each. With an omnichannel ecommerce strategy, it is important to select the right partners so that all channels work seamlessly together while allowing you to focus on daily operations and strategy.
A More Convenient Shopping Experience
The omnichannel experience meets your customers where they are and creates a more convenient shopping experience for them. By allowing them to customize their buyer’s journey, you can expect fewer complications along the way.
For example, if a customer is shopping at an only in-person store, they might be frustrated about having to travel to go into the store. With an omnichannel furniture business, your customers can contact you in the way that best suits their schedule.
What is Multichannel Ecommerce?
A multichannel ecommerce strategy uses multiple channels. Whereas Omnichannel often involves a single shopper making a purchase using several channels, Multichannel involves selling to different customers on many websites.
With your products on multiple websites, it is likely that you’ll expand your reach to encompass more potential customers. Additionally, you can sell specific products on specific channels for a more product-focused experience.
Additionally, customers may experience different aspects of your brand with this strategy. Since there are no integrations, your customers may have different brand experiences depending on the channel they researched, found, and purchased the product — and your business may need additional operational strategies to complete and fulfill orders across different channels.
The Multichannel Strategy Key Difference
When comparing omnichannel vs multichannel ecommerce experiences, there is a key difference. Multichannel ecommerce has separate channels that are not interconnected. For example, a shopper buys a chair on one of your websites and it is shipped to their home, without having any other touch points. The shopper did not have the option to come to the store to pick it up, and their color selection and other options may have been limited or not updated in real-time with current data.
What Are the Benefits of a Multichannel Ecommerce Strategy?
A multichannel ecommerce strategy benefits some businesses by allowing their customers to connect with them in several ways. For example, a business might sell its products online, in its stores, and on Instagram, allowing customers to choose how they want to shop.
What Are the Challenges of Implementing a Multichannel Ecommerce Strategy?
Multichannel does not allow for customers to seamlessly switch from one channel to another. This strategy requires customers to begin their experience over if they want to switch channels, causing your business to lose data and your customers to experience frustration from repetitive research.
Omnichannel vs Multichannel Ecommerce — Which Is Right for Your Business?
The omnichannel ecommerce strategy may be the better option if your business wants to focus on branding and/or the product you are selling is a more considered purchase, benefiting from both online and in-store experience to help facilitate a decision. However, you would need the right partner or internal capabilities to ensure proper setup and that everything works as intended.
The multichannel approach may work for you if the product you are selling is relatively simple to purchase and your business wants to focus solely on reaching more customers. However, these customers may be turned off if they discover inaccurate or contrasting information when they see your product across multiple channels.
How Can an Omnichannel Experience Improve Your Business?
As discussed earlier, there are several benefits to implementing an omnichannel strategy for your business. An effective omnichannel strategy can help your business:
Build Your Brand
With a synchronized branding strategy across channels, your business can be recognized more easily by customers. Unmistakable branding, marketing, and sales strategies, gives your business the opportunity to grow into an industry leader.
Improve Customer Experiences
Customizable experiences are critical to creating enjoyable shopping experiences in today’s market, so give them the option to shop how they want. By improving the shopping experience with an omnichannel strategy, your customers can know how much you value their time, energy, and research efforts.
With a better experience, you’ll be able to turn one-time shoppers into loyal customers. When customers can look back and remember the seamless furniture buying experience they had with your business, they’ll check your selection first when it’s time for them to make another purchase.
Success Begins With Proper Omnichannel Strategy Implementation
An effective omnichannel strategy is necessary to help your business stand out from the competition.
With a seamless shopping experience, your customers can create a buyer’s journey that feels like it was made just for them. If you’re ready to create this experience, Blueport can help.
Explore our Buyer's Journey Guide today to learn more about implementing an effective and unique omnichannel shopping experience for your customers.