Omnichannel is a multichannel approach to sales that provides customers with seamless shopping experience irrespective of the channel they choose from. It can be either shopping from online from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone, or in a brick and mortar store. Omnichannel approach is achieved by integration between distribution, promotion and communication channels on the back end. For example, a customer service representative interacting with a customer in a store can immediately reference the customer’s previous loans and credit history as easily as a customer service representative on the phone or a customer service representative on the web chat. The CSR can check the loan disbursement criteria for the individual and approve the loan in the store while the customer initiates the process online through the web portal.
Omnichannel is built on multiple methods of promoting and distributing products such as physical store, mobile devices, and web portals. Thus allowing customer to reach out and interact with the product either by a phone, desktop, email, web chat, and social media. Omnichannel overcomes the operational constraints of the multichannel into a business model. Thereby combining the channels and sharing the data between them, enabling customers to reach out their desired firms however they want and wherever they want.
Early example of omnichannel approach has been observed in the financial services. It is in response to the popularity of digital banking transactions through ATM, web portals and Mobile devices. The most popular parts of omnichannel banking include ‘zero drop rate’ channel integration, individualizing channels and marketing other channel options. This helped the banks to receive in-depth research about customers so as to build relationships and increase profitability.
The difference between omnichannel and multichannel is that the level of integration. Multichannel is a non-integrated way to approach customers while the omnichannel required coherent and absolute integration. Most organizations have realized the opportunities and advantages of integrating multiple channels by adopting an omnichannel approach. The boundaries between channels in an omnichannel environment tend to fade, giving the customer a uniform brand experience.