Digital Marketing & Sales

Multichannel, cross-channel, or omnichannel: synonyms or different perspectives?

63% of large and medium-large companies responding to the survey conducted by the Omnichannel Customer Experience Observatory stated that omnichannel is viewed as a key strategic development driver.
Nonetheless, what emerges from examining application cases is that even some of the projects communicated to the market as examples of omnichannel, often are not.
Some misunderstanding and lack of alignment on the meaning of multichannel (or multiple touchpoint approach), cross-channel and omni channel do, in fact, exist.

The first term refers to the development of multiple points of contact that is in progress among companies aimed at enriching the channel portfolio available to clients. Examples include social media channels, mobile apps, chatbot, etc. added to existing channels. In these cases, though, reasoning is often silo-based, focused on optimizing performances and management of single touchpoints and excluding the adoption of integrated management of all the information, data and behaviors of users accessing the various touchpoints. It is quite frequent for contact points to be developed with different suppliers, without a common information base, and not always integrated with company backend systems.

A step forward towards evolution is what is known as cross-channel, which implies the development of services integrated across multiple channels (typically two). Some examples are click & collect services, based on orders made online but collected in a physical store. The attention in this case is on creating a gratifying customer experience that enhances two touchpoints, valorizing their respective peculiarities.

Omnichannel makes a further leap forward. Not only does it place the consumer at the center, it also aims to implement an interconnected system across all contact points. Data, therefore, is transferred between different channels and consistent content development strategies are deployed, enabling the user not only to interact with companies with access to multiple options, but also to have the same experience on all touchpoints without interruptions on the journey from one to another. This allows users to start an activity on one channel and continue on another without having to start over. The transformations required, in addition to technological, are also organizational and are key to enable to fully achieve this objective. Barriers within companies are still many: according to findings of the first edition of the Observatory only 10% of the sample of analyzed companies has already reached a fairly good level of maturity in the integrated management of contact points and in the creation of a single client view.

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