Cross-channel, multi-channel & omni-channel: what is the difference?

2min read - Fritz Lauer

A cross-channel experience isa customer experience that includes several channels. For example, customers identify a product on a brand website, try it in store but can’t find their size. They finalise the purchase on the brand’s responsive website from their smartphone.

There has been a rapid increase in the variety of channels offered online. Our use of the internet has changed, especially because we now use connected objects. Because of these changes, customers now have a choice of thousands of different online scenarios. Therefore, brands have no choice but to develop and adopt a cross-channel strategy. This must be a global strategy with a focus on ROI.

Multi-channel, cross-channel, omni-channel…these three terms cannot be opposed. We should consider them as strategic steps in the global promise made by brands in terms of customer experience. 

Multi-channel is a customer experience during which customers use one or more different contact points with a brand (physical store, smartphone, tablet, live chat, emails, social networks, messaging apps). These touch points are offered by the brand throughout the customer journey.

Cross-channel is a customer experience offered across all channels. In this case, all channels are complementary throughout the different stages of the customer journey. Each channel is deployed in connection with other channels to provide a smooth customer experience. Cross-channel is the next level up from multi-channel.

Omni-channel takes the notion of ubiquity into account:customers can use different channels at the same time(they can use their mobile while they are in a physical store). It suggests an even greater consistency between channels as customers navigate seamlessly from one to another.

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