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Multi-Channel vs. Omni-Channel Retailing

In the e-commerce industry, most people would agree that the more channels that market or push a product, the better. However, depending on the marketing strategy, this is not always the best-case scenario for e-retailers. As a general rule, e-commerce sellers must decide whether to operate on a multi-channel or omni-channel basis. In multi-channel retailing, multiple channels work simultaneously but parallel, meaning one channel may offer different deals and inventories than another. While similar, an omni-channel distribution strategy ensures that customers enjoy a seamless shopping experience regardless of where they visit, whether in-person, online or via a mobile app.


Benefits of Multi-Channel

Multi-channel retailing is based on a simple principle: more channels will result in more shoppers, and more shoppers will result in more sales. In an e-commerce era when there are so many ways to make money, it is no surprise that multi-channel is so popular. Retail, and multi-channel retail, in particular, is constantly evolving.

Recently, companies have been finding new ways to sell their products through the growth and evolution of social commerce. It is yet another way to increase brand awareness and generate revenue. Consumers can acquire and purchase goods and services more easily with greater access to products, and companies can develop their brands and build a more extensive brand loyalty base.

If you are thinking of going multi-channel and offering your products in a particular marketplace, you should be aware that you do not have to list all of your products but rather focus on the right products for that space. The advantage of this is that it allows you to control your brand and grow your listings slowly while at the same time ensuring that these marketplaces will suit your needs. Instead of inventory or buying experience, you can focus on maintaining consistency in your brand's appearance in your packaging, email messages, and order confirmations. Once you win them over through a specific channel, you can bring these newly acquired customers to your website to gain a higher return on investment.


Overall, companies these days are expected to provide customers with various shopping options, and companies that seek to increase exposure can significantly benefit from multi-channel retailing.


Problems with Multi-Channel

Multi-channel retailing has been criticized for its inability to offer a truly integrated experience to customers due to a company spreading itself too thinly. Multi-channel marketing increases revenue potential but also means dividing assets. Additionally, depending on the size of your organization, it may not be easy to divide your time among multiple platforms. There will be a need to dedicate employees to managing particular listings on websites or marketplaces.

Simply listing your products on a marketplace does not automatically result in sales. A great deal of effort is required to market your products on various marketplaces, and, ultimately, your company has no control over what gets featured and what does not. Remember, too, due to the nature of e-commerce marketplaces, the description layout of items may differ from what your company is used to, so you may not have complete control over the shared content either.

Despite the convenience of multi-channel retailing, it can also be frustrating for consumers. For example, whenever there is a problem with an order placed online, the customer must resolve the issue online. With multi-channel customer service, employees in call centers cannot view customer communications via email or chat. Separate customer communication also means that any problems concerning in-store purchases must be dealt with in-store.

Lastly, when orders are received from multiple platforms, it is possible to encounter shipping problems. Multi-channel fulfillment involves separate shipping processes for orders coming in via email, phone, and through an e-commerce store. It can add more time and costs, mainly when combining an order to ship it. With multi-channel fulfillment, each area doesn't necessarily know when an order gets placed through a different channel. Offering a comparable customer service experience online is imperative, which often comes with a highly detailed shipping strategy. When working on too many separate channels, it can become hard to juggle delivery promises from one channel to another.


The Evolution to Omni-Channel

In omni-channel retailing, the customer is placed at the heart of the strategy. It often feels like a more straightforward method for consumers. Through this approach, businesses can understand their buyers in-depth, enabling them to tailor their advertising materials and communication strategies accordingly. That provides businesses with a competitive advantage. By connecting all products and services data through your channels, companies can use every consumer touchpoint to create targeted offers that will help strengthen your relationship with your customers and reinforce your competitive edge. Delivery methods are also more within the control of this strategy.

That being said, omni-channel is far more complex than multi-channel retailing. Teams of people from different departments and channels must work together to achieve success with this strategy. It is crucial to have an omni-channel approach that considers all possible channels for delivering seamless customer service. You must understand how your customers function and, in combination with that, be able to provide high-quality solutions at each step of the buyer's journey. Therefore, your company should be actively involved in meaningful customer communication. In the end, companies that can deliver a seamless and customer-friendly journey will reap the most significant benefits from omni-channel strategies. Consumers love omni-channel and the evolution of customer behavior over the past few decades is the primary influence on omni-channel success.



Ultimately, both of these options can be advantageous to e-retailers. Multiple businesses have benefited from their use for quite some time, particularly those that offer private-label products. Even though multi-channel retail is very effective for companies looking to reach more customers, omni-channel allows them to create a seamless brand across all platforms. Regardless of what you choose, if your business is experiencing multi-channel or omni-channel shipping challenges, consider hiring a shipping solution, such as DesktopShipper! Using a shipping solution, you can manage your orders across multiple channels such as marketplaces, your website, and social commerce platforms, allowing for easy and integrated order management and delivery.


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