Omnichannel Fashion Term

We now find the words Omni-channel, omnichannel and omni channel sprinkled haphazardly across the web.  Each version of the spelling is attached to prestigious brands and is being used on blog posts, press releases, and other marketing materials.  Instead of arguing about the correct spelling, we will just wait and see if one spelling emerges and becomes used most by the masses.  More important than the actual spelling of the word, it is fair to say that there are many different understandings of the term.  In truth, it is rather challenging to understand the difference between omni, multi, and cross channels.

What is the difference between Omnichannel, Multichannel and crosschannel?

Omni comes from the word Omnis which can mean all or universal.
Multichannel from the Latin word Multus, meaning multiple or many.

Crosschannel, derived from the Latin word Crux, meaning to go across.

Omni-Channel Retailing is the marketing of multi-channel retailing, but is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on.  Some people believe that omnichannel is actually cross channel being done well.  

Examples are often that a mobile app should match the responsive design of the website which should thematically reflect the look and feel inside the store. All elements of the retail environment, product information, and social discussions should be universal in every way possible.

It is important for clothing stores to understand and implement omnichannel retail methods into their business strategy.  Vertically integrated channels and faster fashion are merging to reshape the industry faster than some apparel retailers are able to respond.  How retailers overcome these challenges will be the key differentiator between those who are winning and losing market share.

Retailers are meeting the new customer demands by deploying specialized supply chain strategy software. To use all channels simultaneously, and retailers using an omni-channel approach will track customers across all channels, not just one or two. In the brick-and-mortar channel, digitally-savvy consumers are entering stores already well-informed about a product’s features and prices and expect store employees to know more than they do.  Using omni-channel retailing while working with the "Connected Consumer", all shopping channels work from the same database of products, prices, promotions, etc. Instead of perceiving a variety of touch-points as part of the same brand, omni-channel retailers let consumers experience the brand, not a channel within a brand. Merchandise and promotions are not channel specific, but rather consistent across all retail channels. The brick-and-mortar stores become an extension of the supply chain in which purchases may be made in the store, but are researched through other "channels" of communication.  With omni-channel retailing, marketing is made more efficient with offers that are relative to a specific consumer determined by purchase patterns, social network affinities, website visits, loyalty programs, and other data mining techniques.

What is  omnichannel? Omnichannel is about true continuity of your experience.  The brand you are shopping for should be a continuous experience.  We should be able to research shoes, shop for shoes, buy shoes, communicate about our favorite shoes, and do all this on any device or in a store.

Helpful Terms:

Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience (easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling) across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).

For more in-depth education in emerging multi-format retail concepts or information about other apparel industry topics, you can return to the fashion terms main page to browse our other areas of interest.