Multichannel vs Omnichannel Marketing










AICEX: Il discorso fila bene in ambito Digital, ma quando parliamo di interazioni fisiche il discorso è meno immediato.

posted in Customer Journey, Digital, Marketing

Under the impact of digital advancements and technological opportunities, consumer decision-making journey has been rapidly changed towards higher level of complexity and cross-channel options. During recent years, while researchers have still been trying to map and explain multi-channel journey (Wolny and Charoensuksai, 2014), relatively new term “omni-channel” has appeared with the support of latest technology and widely discussed in marketing practitioners around the world (Rigby, 2011; Fluss, 2014). Both terms lead to corresponding marketing approaches of multi-channel and omni-channel marketing. In an effort to understand the difference between these approaches, I started wondering whether it is necessary for marketers to separate two terms anymore in the context of constantly evolving technology because multi-channel marketing will soon disappear and be completely replaced by the more valuable omni-channel marketing.


Understand the approaches

Multi-channel marketing illustrates companies’ approach to the combination of online and offline channels in decision-making route of consumers from those companies’ operational viewpoint. This term was visually described as a “race track” (Pophal, 2015) or “swim lanes” as Schwartz’s comparison (cited in Pophal, 2015). In which, companies try to optimize engagement of customer through each channel as known as each touch point of the route.

In contrast, omni-channel marketing is defined as “seamless, integrated and consistent experience” of consumers across all channels (Bowden, cited in Stocker, 2014). This means that consumers are at the centre of all communications channels and they can choose any route or a complex integrated route to clarify any concerns in their decision-making experience with a product or service. Pophal (2015) compared omni-channel journey with a “spider web” in which consumers as the spider stay at the centre of their experiential web.

Will omni-channel marketing completely replace multi-channel marketing?

Schwartz (cited in Pophal, 2015) claimed that the core difference between multi-channel and omni-channel marketing is company’s approach to digital channels. Companies using multi-channel marketing consider each engaging channel with customers as separate point, highly possible causing inconsistency.  Omni-channel marketing with its principle to stand from the customer’s viewpoint, on the contrary, emphasizes customer experience right at the beginning of their decision-making journey. Data will be collected and quickly examined to ensure an effortless fluid to next touch points. To be concise, while multi-channel marketing uses inside-out approach to customers, omni-channel marketing is outside-in understanding customer experience to create a better smoother one (Gerscovich, cited in Pophal, 2015).

While there is still effort of marketing practitioners to differentiate multi-channel and omni-channel marketing, Houchin (cited in Pophal, 2015) suggested that such separation is indeed not necessary. He argued by pointing out that at the end of the day, all our marketing efforts are to “create a fantastic customer experience”.

Personally I agree with Houchin’s viewpoint as what marketers should focus on is understanding customer behavior and providing them with personalized values. To acquire those targets, outside-in approach of omni-channel marketing is obviously more valid and should be implemented. Technological advancements allow marketers to record and understand complex analytics and access various tools to approach customers individually. I assume that multi-channel marketing soon disappears because it is already out-of-date and customers nowadays are savvy enough to stop trusting in inconsistent brand.

Do you think that multi-channel marketing will still be applicable?

Do you imagine a new marketing approach towards customer decision-making journey that can replace omni-channel marketing?


  1. Fluss, D. (2014). Buzzword Battle: Omnichannel Versus Multichannel. CRM Magazine, [online] p.8. Available at: [Accessed 15 Nov. 2015]
  2. Pophal, L. (2015). Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing: Is There a Difference, and What Does It Mean to You?. EContent, [online] (March 2015), pp.15-20. Available at: [Accessed 28 Oct. 2015].
  3. Rigby, D. (2011). The Future of Shopping. Harvard Business Review, 89(12)
  4. Stocker, M. (2014). The Definition of Omni-Channel Marketing – Plus 7 Tips. [online] Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. Available at:[Accessed 28 Oct. 2015].
  5. Wolny, J. and Charoensuksai, N. (2014). Mapping customer journeys in multichannel decision-making. J Direct Data Digit Mark Pract, 15(4), pp.317-326

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SOURCE: Is It Necessary To Differentiate Multi-channel And Omni-channel Marketing? –


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