People often confuse multi-channel retailing with Omni channel. Although these terms are not new, has been around for quite long. Most retailers are now selling their items across multiple channels, while some of them offer Omni channel experience to customers. However, both multi and Omni channel retailing depends on selling across various digital and physical stores. The main difference lies in customer experience across those multiple channels. From traditional multichannel retailing, one can have both website (with its available stock), and brick-and-mortar store selling directly to customers with their own stock. If customers prefer to buy product in stores they can, but the purchased items can only be exchanged or returned in store. Likewise, the same approach applies on online stores. The essence of whole multichannel retailing is that online and offline channels are considered as separate businesses of the same retailer.
The customer of today is more likely to have various touch points with seller and want a seamless customer journey across those touch points. They don’t see the same retailer’s website and physical stores as separate businesses. Yet they experience differently on various channels provided by retailers. Customers look for a unified user interface where they can interact with brand online whether they’re using social media, mobile phones or in stores. For customers, their journey across multiple channels matters. Keeping them confined to single channel is not going to work. Or, making the whole switching process so annoying that will result only friction and influence the overall experience.
The key difference between multichannel and Omni channel retailing is that Omni channel has ability to join these various touch points together in a way that it creates consistent and unified customer experience. Implementation of Omni channel across business requires significant investment, vision, commitment. This is the reason many retailers would like to have few elements of Omni channel in their business, but only few will fully implement it throughout their enterprise.
Luckily, there are a number of companies who offers many ecommerce solutions that help retailers to move their business onto Omni channel retail. When implementing Omni channel, one of the biggest challenges a physical retailer will face is resistance from in-store staff. As store staff will consider this retailer’s digital business as competition. The obvious reason behind that is selling in store bring them commission from sales than selling online.