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Omnichannel vs. Multichannel E-Commerce: What’s the Difference?

There is no doubt a modern shopper's journey is impossible to predict. Their typical path to a successful purchase goes through multiple channels and devices –from desktops, smartphones, and brick and mortar stores to e-commerce sites and mobile apps. Most retailers are now selling their products across more than one channel to meet shoppers where they are, and engage them with a seamless and memorable experience at every touchpoint. 

In the current overlapping world of e-commerce, omnichannel and multichannel are the most popular buzzwords, but it may not always be easy to tell the difference between them. Here’s everything you need to know about the two so you can decide which approach serves your needs better. 

Omnichannel Vs. Multichannel 

Omnichannel retail 

Omnichannel retail is shopper-based rather than channel-based. It focuses on covering all possible sales channels and is designed to interact with each other seamlessly. Its guiding principle focuses on providing a highly personalized experience for shoppers across multiple channels and devices. It achieves this through a unified message and consistent engagement. 

The main goal is to offer each shopper an easy, memorable and integrated shopping experience –no matter how or where the shopper interacts with the brand. 

Multichannel retail 

Multichannel retail is channel-based –spanning several different channels, including social, mobile, direct mail, and physical location. 

Each channel works separately and independently from others while adopting its own strategy and goals. The obvious lack of integration in a multichannel approach creates a vacuum that makes it hard to offer personalized experiences for shoppers.

Omnichannel Vs. Multichannel for E-commerce

If your business has an e-commerce presence, it is critical to provide your customers with ways to make easy purchases. The easier it is for a customer to make a purchase, the better the overall buying experience and the more likely you will earn their loyalty. Although both channels are designed to help you drive sales, omnichannel e-commerce has a clear advantage over multichannel. 

While multichannel e-commerce provides essential information to customers on purchases, omnichannel e-commerce leads them to make more purchases by encouraging them to use more channels. Ideally, omnichannel marketing integrates multiple channels and makes it easier to use all of them in a single platform, thereby enabling customers to spend more money and increase business sales.

Studies reveal e-commerce businesses that utilize omnichannel marketing and implement three or more channels have experienced an 18.96% increase in their engagement rate over single-channel strategies. Engagement rates are critical to the success of an e-commerce business. The more users that interact with your brand by clicking on links or sharing a post on social media, the more likely you’ll experience an increase in sales and make a profit.




  • Channel-based

  • Provides essential information to customers on purchases

  • Channels function separately and are not integrated
  • Shopper-based

  • Integrates multiple channels and easily rolls them into one platform

  • Encourages customers to use more channels, which leads to more purchases


Examples of Omnichannel and Multichannel in E-commerce

Multichannel e-commerce typically starts with the company and moves outwards to the channels, while omnichannel begins with the customer and how they interact between channels for a seamless experience. In multichannel e-commerce, each channel functions separately, and customers have to go to a specific channel to find the information they need. Omnichannel e-commerce enables customers to connect with a brand through any of their channels, and adapts based on the last experience the customer had from the last engagement. 

Essentially, omnichannel's versatility offers convenience that allows customers to save time and money. To understand better how the two channels work, let's take a look at the following scenarios:

 Multichannel Experience

  • Customer A visits an e-commerce business A and makes a note of an item they want to buy. However, the customer cannot find further details of the product, including where it is available, because such information is available on other channels, which the customer cannot access at the moment.
  • The customer then visits the company's local store to make a purchase of the item
  • Unfortunately, the customer cannot purchase several of their items because the local store doesn't have it in stock –the channels they visited did not have the most up-to-date information.
  • The customer leaves the store rejected and frustrated

 Omnichannel Experience

  • Customer B visits an ecommerce business B and makes a note of an item they want to buy. The product is listed as in-stock at the local retail branch. The customer can also add the item to their online wish list from a single platform.
  • The customer drives to the local store, and the service rep uses a tablet to access the customer's wish list to more easily direct them to their products.
  • The item is quickly located, and customer B finalizes their purchases and drives home satisfied with the seamless shopping experience they had.

Although e-commerce business A provides the ability for customers to engage with their brand in multiple ways, the discord between channels doesn't add any value to their overall experience. 

However, e-commerce business B has integrated all touchpoints and engagements to enable the customer to pick where they left off regardless of the channel they used. Omnichannel, therefore, makes sure the entire buying process is convenient and seamless, thus enhancing the user experience.

The Future of Omnichannel and Multichannel    

Studies reveal buyers utilize various channels to make a purchase. Customers may look at an item at a store and buy it online. They may also download the coupons online and buy the product from a store or compare prices in one channel and buy from the other. 

Omnichannel creates more channels for marketing and integrates all these touchpoints to increase purchases and enhance the customer's buying experiences. 

Considerations for Your B2B or B2C Commerce Business

Although they may appear similar at first, the two marketing channels should never be confused. Multichannel marketing is ideal for brands that need to expand their e-commerce reach. In contrast, omnichannel marketing allows businesses to maximize the opportunities created by multichannel marketing for higher sales and profits. 

It is essential to keep in mind that omnichannel operations evolve from multichannel operations, and without the latter, the former won't exist. So while omnichannel is ideal, it is always best to start with a multichannel approach before you tie them together. 

Get Help from Emporix Digital Commerce

Emporix's digital commerce solutions will help you implement your unique business processes to achieve a genuinely omnichannel approach that enables you to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience –whether the customer is shopping online from a mobile device, a laptop, or from a retail store nearby.

We invariably serve any touchpoints while integrating the best-of-breed capabilities that enable agile development. Some of the core benefits that come with our digital commerce solutions include automatic scaling with online demands, zero downtime, predictable cost, and unparalleled security. Get in touch with us and learn more about how Emporix can help your e-commerce business.

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