Many brands are today considering their channel strategy. Some companies deploy different models for the initial sales and the after sales processes where any of these could be a direct channel or indirect. Traditional B2B-sales through distributors and resellers is now challenged by the combined will of the brand and their customers to establish a direct relationship.
A known fact for all companies today is that the number of customer touchpoints continues to pile up. The physical store, online, mobile, native apps, social media, market places...the list goes on and on. This is nothing new, we are now in 2021 and the subject of Multi channel vs. Omni channel or Unified Commerce is so 2016. However, many companies still struggle to get this to work, trying to keep up with customers' demands and ever changing behavior by adding new touchpoints. Covid-19 as a catalyst for new behavior boosting conversion into online sales and forcing physical experiences to merge with digital to stay relevant and open for business accelerate this transformation.
That is why this subject, even if this is like a used old sweater, has now been converted into the latest vintage fashion.
Multi channel - vs. Omni- vs. Unified commerce
Thousands of blog posts and wikipedia articles have already explained and defined these terms during the years. In this article, looking back at the development since they were first conceived we try to view these terms from an evolutionary perspective;
- Multi channel = the understanding that customer interaction happen in more channels than one
- Omni channel = the strive to connect and support the customer journey through multiple channels by providing the same experience
- Unified commerce = the execution of meeting the customer as one through out all touchpoints
To understand whether your current state is Multi-, Omni channel or Unified could be a measure of your digital maturity and how far you have come on your digital journey. But that definition is perhaps irrelevant by now as we all understand that the technical set up of a company should never come in the way of a superior seamless customer experience through all touchpoints.
To add some complexity to this mix many companies also support multiple customer journeys and segments, sometimes separated. Perhaps you have B2B + B2C segments, sales toward distributors and direct to consumers, multiple brands with separate target groups and experience etc. Delivering this unified and seamless experience in all touchpoints but separated for certain customer segments could be described as multi unified commerce. Wow, a new buzzword for the 20-ties just invented ;-)
To unify, to separate and at the same time be able to manage and control this experience from the same backend taking advantage of your already made investments and scaling your capabilities to deliver great experience requires a platform with extensive width and breadth.