Multi, Cross and Omnichannel

For years, the digital business world has been flooded with numerous terms for cross-channel trading. They wander through the network, they can be found on a myriad of agency slides and are used differently by experts. They are referred to as multi-channel, omni-channel or cross-channel. Which term means what? They all more or less describe multichannel trade, that is the connection of more distribution channels, which is nothing new. The most common term for multichannel trade is multi-channel. It denotes a multitrack distribution in which the channels used exist side by side without interacting. A company has more channels and the customer normally cannot continue their information and purchase process in a comprehensive way because the data is saved in completely separated processes. However, this is no longer up-to-date in trading. Therefore, cross-channel is focused on integration. The main difference determined by the word „cross“ is the integration of the purchase process in all channels. Cross-channel enables designing a purchase process across channels. Customers search for information on-line and buy in stationary trade or vice-versa. They use a customer account or a customer card from the Customer Loyalty Programme to smoothly transfer customer data from the on-line channel to the stationary channel or customer service. From the viewpoint of the company, cross-channel involves the provision of a consistent and central database of products, customer data and fulfilment processes. Omni-channel implies that all channels are available. Expert media explain this term as a further development of multi-channel trade. Also, many distribution channels are applied and used in this process, concentrating on all channels at the same time. As in the cross-channel system, customers can use different channels; the term omni-channel, however, focuses on the customer’s point of view and refers to the customer’s behaviour at all contacting points with the company. Cross-channel rather describes the integration from the retailer’s point of view.

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