Multi-channel, Cross-channel and Omni-channel are sometimes used on the front page of digital news. The constant evolution of communication interfaces multiplies the points of contact between businesses and consumers. In a digital marketing strategy implementation or optimization process, it seems essential to define these concepts.

What are the differences?

First of all, multi-channel marketing is a strategy that consists of developing and proposing various points of contact with means of communication that are compartmentalized from each other.

On the other hand, the cross channel is a strategy that tends to cross and integrate the different distribution channels of the company in the customer path. Thus, catalog, physical shops and online go hand in hand.

As for omnichannel, it puts the consumer at the heart of all sales channels. As it is everywhere at the same time, the physical world and the virtual world are literally connected to meet its needs. All available channels are solicited and mobilized simultaneously.

The multi-channel

Today, it is unthinkable for a company to be accessible via a single interface. Indeed, consumers demand attention and interaction, they are more and more demanding. Faced with this change in behaviour, multi-channel communication forms the basis of a digital strategy.

To be able to send “the right message to the right person at the right time”, you now need the right distribution channel. Individuals have their own preferences. In addition, campaigns are more or less effective depending on the channels chosen. Social networks, website, physical store, online store, email, mobile application… the more, the better!

It is then necessary to define a marketing plan and design scenarios for each channel. However, even if they are autonomous, it is necessary to ensure that the information is uniform across all contact points.

The benefits of a multi-channel strategy

Multi-channel undeniably expands the market, and therefore, it is a strategy that increases visibility and sales. Thus, it helps to create and cultivate proximity with the public.

Depending on the profile of each customer, it is possible to communicate with him via the channel where he will have shown the most reactivity. We talk about tailor-made customer relations.

This solution automates many processes such as content generation for each channel. Resources can also be significantly optimized with multi-channel, since multiple channels can use the same content. The economy will be there.

Example of a multi-channel strategy

Now let’s look at a multi-channel strategy, through Pizza Hut. Indeed, Pizza Hut is a successful example of a multi-channel communication strategy. Mobile, web, social media and restaurants, each channel has found its place in the customer journey. Thanks to this approach, the brand offers a permanent presence on all media to the delight of its consumers.

The cross channel

In this concept, we must take into account the fact that the consumer goes from the web to the store, from one medium to another, before making his purchase.

The ambition of the cross channel is to make this navigation more fluid for an innovative customer experience. The complementarity and coherence between the different channels are its real strength and at the same time its complexity.

The cross channel gives a unique vision of the customer allowing the company to guide him by bringing him the best suggestions. Thus, it is necessary to create a mechanism to organize and coordinate actions and information gathering. Some of the most used digital channels are: mobile web, desktop web, mobile applications and marketplaces.

The advantages of a cross channel strategy

The compulsive and demanding consumer finds satisfaction there, because the cross channel allows the seller to be present where desires are created. Illustration: the consumer leaf through a catalogue or a magazine, he comes across a product he likes, thanks to a QR code on the page, he flashes with his smartphone. The order is placed, and the item is delivered to him a few days later. It represents real freedom.

The company is necessarily a winner, since with such a strategy, it contributes to customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Example of a cross channel strategy

Let’s now analyze an example of cross channel strategy: La Fnac. French chain of stores specialising in cultural and electronic distribution to the general public, it now follows a cross channel strategy. The distribution channels it uses are: the Fnac mobile application (in stores, customers can scan a product’s barcode to find out more), interactive terminals (to order an item that is unavailable in another store), the loyalty card and the Facebook page that acts as an after-sales service.

The omnichannel

In this strategy, physical shops are an extension of the website or vice versa. The consumer is plunged into a universe where two worlds have merged. Above all, it is a real logistical and technological challenge. The development and proper use of omnichannel devices have a preponderant place.

The omnichannel is based on a series of tools, including :

  • The web-to-store (e-reservation, online order with in-store pickup, consultation of store stocks, additional in-store service after an online purchase).
  • The web-in-store (interactive terminals that give information, a demo video, product reviews, etc., personalized support in store thanks to web data…).
  • The store-to-web. Consumers are fond of showrooming (in-store tracking). With an application or other tools to memorize the products found in the store, the journey continues and is finalized on the web.

In omnichannel, each channel has its specificity and role. They are therefore not in competition with each other.


The advantages of an Omni-Channel Strategy

First, the multi-channel strategy becomes a competitive lever for a company. We are therefore witnessing the massive creation of digital solutions, especially online applications, to stimulate consumers and make successful transformations.

Secondly, it is a customer loyalty factor in every respect. The fusion of physical commerce with e-commerce makes it possible to accompany the consumer through both worlds. Some brands even organize data catching plans, in order to obtain the most qualitative information from customers to better target them.

Example of an omnichannel strategy

L’Oréal is among the companies that have succeeded in adopting an almost perfect omnichannel experience. To let consumers know if they have chosen the right make-up before ordering, L’Oréal has created two applications: Makeup Genius and True Match. The first allows the user to upload photos to see the effect of makeup after application. The second offers to buy the appropriate shade in a store.

In summary, the implementation of a multi-channel strategy is not an end in itself. This is only the first step. Technology has changed habits, and has given birth to the cross channel and the omnichannel. If multi-channel seeks to multiply independent contact points, cross-channel aims to establish complementarity between broadcasting channels. The omnichannel, on the other hand, focuses on the customer’s overall journey via the simultaneous use of physical and digital points of sale. Technology is thus at the heart of these marketing strategies of the digital age. The budget allocated to development, maintenance, innovation and training is an important investment.



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