In the retail world, customers have multiple options for buying the products they need. Well-known online retailers such as Amazon, Wayfair, eBay and others sell primarily by their websites, without physical stores.

While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, omni-channel and multi-channel are two distinctly different methods.

Omni-Channel Vs. Multi-Channel Retailers?

Multi-Channel Marketing

This simply means that a retailer sells in multiple channels: in a physical store, marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, social media, etc.

However, multi-channel marketing also means that the different channels aren’t connected and have little to no interaction. They are separate entities, meaning that even though it’s the same company, each touch point is with a different organization under the company name. Most companies use this model, with a great website, blog, and social media designed for customer interaction. But if they don’t work together, the messaging isn’t consistent for the customer.

Think of it this way: When you buy online, you’re buying from one division. If you need to return something, you can’t return it to a physical store (if they have one.) You’ll have to send it back, unlike buying something in the store. It’s the same if you buy something from a vendor’s website versus buying it on their Amazon or eBay store. This can disrupt a customer’s buying experience, and potentially limit their future purchases.

Omni-Channel Marketing

Instead of separated touch points, omni-channel strings these touch points together so that a customer’s journey is seamless and consistent. Hubspot’s definition:

Omni-channel experience is a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.

Your online presence should be continuous across all platforms, and use each customer’s device and browsing to connect and engage with customers. This means that you can sell anywhere that your customers are buying, including desktop and mobile devices and increases your touch points for product discoverability.

Hubspot offers a free download on omni-channel personalization and how it can benefit your company.

Why Do This?

Customers are already shopping multi-channel, across different sites and platforms to discover the best product, the best price, and search for available discounts.

Omni-channel lets the channels work in tandem to make the customer journey and buying process simple and seamless, creating an engaging experience for customers.

Omni-Channel In Practice

Target is one example of an omni-channel retailer.

You can shop in a physical Target store or order online from either the Target website or the smartphone app. That order can shipped to your home or office, or shipped to a nearby store for pickup. Need to make a return? You can do that at any Target store.

For shoppers in a hurry or with small children, Target’s Drive Up service lets you order, list your arrival time, park in the Drive Up spot, and notify the store with the app. An employee brings everything right to your car, free.

Target’s buying flexibility increases with Same Day Delivery (a fee service through Shipt.)

All of these functions are seamless across the Target website, mobile website and smartphone app. Target’s significant social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram, increases their online presence and customer engagement.

Multi-Channel? Omni-Channel? 3PL WorldWide Is Available To Help

When you work with 3PL Worldwide, you’re working with a wide network of suppliers, logistical providers, warehouse facilities and other companies that come together to provide all the services you need with one phone call. Our call center services can add to your omnichannel marketing.

3PL also offers warehouse space on the east coast and the west coast, and transport to points in-between. We’re located right here in Southern California, so contact us today at (877) 444-0002 or use our online contact form.


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