Multichannel vs Omnichannel – What’s the Difference?

If you’ve begun your search to find the perfect inventory management tool, you already asked yourself some key questions to help point you in the right direction – one of them being whether or not you need a multichannel or omnichannel software system. Both types of software are effective at processing data feeds, keeping inventory up to date and helping you sell in more places, with less stress. They can alleviate inventory related issues such as stock outs, and can provide better business insights and reporting than manual processes alone. Though both can help your business accelerate its path toward success, each software has varying long-term effects. First though, lets cover the similarities and differences between both omni and multichannel inventory software.

These tools are in many ways the same. Each can,

  • Sync between multiple sales channels.
  • Connect your orders from each online venue in one, central location.
  • Automate the transfer of data.
  • Save you significant time and money by streamlining the back-end ecommerce processes.

However, only omnichannel software can sync sales orders and update inventory from transactions that occurred offline, such as at trade shows, craft fairs, physical stores, etc. Bear in mind, omnichannel is a new term in the ecommerce industry. Though many still consider omni and multichannel tools the same, not everything an omnichannel tool can do is possible with multichannel. Think of it like a rectangle vs. a square. A rectangle can be a square, but a square can’t be a rectangle. In the same way, omnichannel tools can be multichannel, but multichannel tools can’t be omnichannel.

multichannel inventory softwareHere’s what you need to ask yourself in order to choose between multi and omnichannel inventory software.

  1. What are your short-term goals?
    1. Do you want to prevent theft, mitigate the risk of overselling, and gain a real sense of control over all moving parts of your business?
    2. Do you want to free up some time you’ve been spending laboring over data sheets, trying to keep your inventory under control? Are you ready to get your life back and actually enjoy it while running a successful business?

Make a list of the top three things you want to accomplish with your inventory software. Then, make a list of your long term goals.

  1. What are your long term goals?
    1. Do you want to add a new product line, sell on more marketplaces, or try and grow your business in new ways?
    2. Do you want to try your hand selling products at craft fairs and trade shows, or even potentially open up a store front or pop-up shop one day?

If your long term goals only coincide with option 1, then you may prefer a multichannel tool. If you find yourself leaning toward option 2 when thinking about your future, then you definitely need an omnichannel tool. Omnichannel software gives you the freedom to take your shop on to go – whether that’s at a trendy pop-up boutique, a brick and mortar store, or at trade shows.

Sometimes (but not always) omnichannel tools will have more robust functions and integrations. So even if you are unsure about testing sales out ‘on the road’ or in a store, an omnichannel tool can still accomplish everything you need it to, and give you further options for growth down the line. If you’re strictly ecommerce-only and the multichannel goals appeal to you most, you may still consider looking at omnichannel options to compare lists of integrated partners. You may decide sometime in the not-so-distant future that you want to grow your business in other ways. Movement between tools isn’t always seamless, so keep an open mind to your business’ growth potential.

Today, ecomdash integrates with both Vend Point-of-sale system as well as Shopify POS. Shopify recently announced that its POS tool is free with all Shopify subscriptions, and available on the iPhone and iPad.

WebRetailer, Ecombytes, Internet Retailer and Software Advice all have extensive lists of both multi and omnichannel tools. Take a look at our post on picking the perfect inventory management tool for next steps in finding the best software for your business.

About the Author

Tiana Byers

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Tiana is a content marketer and writer. Her favorite author is Oscar Wilde and she is a self proclaimed Etsy addict.

Tiana ByersMultichannel vs Omnichannel – What’s the Difference?

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