Multichannel, cross-channel, omni-channel – new words for old ideas!

fruit pile isolated(by our guest author Wiljo Krechting)

One needs only to click clumsily around the web to stumble upon discussion after discussion over the importance of “multichannel” marketing, as well as its distinction from “cross-“, and “omni-channel” marketing. The greatest distinction I’ve found is that which lies between the various degrees of bullshit that cover this entire topic.

This raises the question, “Well then, why write ANOTHER article about it?”

Answer: I don’t intend to address the distinction between the terms, but rather the stinking bullshit that surrounds them.

The business world is like a big ocean, and marketing is like swimming. Some people see swimming as an activity to be done on the side, or even as a means of travel. Bullshit. Swimming is simply to keep from drowning. So is marketing.

The age of the term “marketing” as it is known today is debatable. Suffice to say, it’s pretty damn old. These new prefixes that have been applied to it: multi, cross and omni, are a new twist of another age-old concept…bullshit.

Here’s why…

“Multichannel” marketing is not new. It’s virtually impossible NOT to market in more than one channel, and has been for decades, if not longer. “Cross-channel” marketing then, is the concept of sharing information between marketing strategies. I don’t believe that using information to its full potential can be considered a good idea, simply because it’s too firmly rooted in COMMON SENSE. Being able to reach customers equally across channels with shared information is the ultimate goal of any business with a will to survive. That goes without saying.

Check the statistics, any of them. It doesn’t matter. Nothing indicates that “cross-channel” marketing has any negative affect on business. The question of whether or not to market across channels is…

(wait for it) … bullshit!

The question remains then, “Why isn’t everyone cross-channeling?”

Answer: That question will be answered when you no longer need to ask it.

Not satisfied? Then think of it like this…

We take an ancient word like “marketing” and attach new prefixes to it, in order to try and adapt the word to include all of our wonderful new technologies. The truth is, once we as a society have adapted OURSELVES to these new technologies (once “cross-channel” marketing becomes the norm) it will simply be called “marketing” again. And no one will ask why.

What about “omni-channel”?

This is a somewhat redundant word (or bullshit word, if you prefer) which marketing consultants use, in order to market the word “marketing”. “Omni-channel marketing” is elastic in that it will always include every new channel that becomes available. As the same can also be said of good old “marketing”, I really don’t think we need to have both.

(Image by istockphoto/hoch2wo photo & design)

About the author

Wiljo Krechting is an e-commerce expert and spokesman for the shopware AG. As a manufacturer of highly innovative shop systems, Shopware serves online retailers of all sizes, but has focused on small and medium-sized merchants. With currently more than 10000 customers and 400 partners, shopware AG is one of the most successful manufacturers of shop software in Germany.

8 Responses to Multichannel, cross-channel, omni-channel – new words for old ideas!

  1. Roman says:

    Unfortunately what’s pretty obvious for one person, is a totally new way of thinking for an other. Take swimming as example; there are companies who can do the butterfly stroke, don’t drown and reach the shore first. But there are also companies lying on their backs trying to get enough air and companies simply moving their arms and legs in an uncontrolled fashion.

    For these companies, obvious statements like “if you’re a webshop, don’t forget offline marketing” or “your branding has to be consistent throughout all channels” or “make your site suitable for mobile” are a red shiny lifebuoy that can help them keep afloat.

    So even if the syntax is outdated, the changing and new semantics can actually help out.

  2. Pingback: Multichannel, cross-channel, omni-channel – new words for old ideas! | secrets of management

  3. Agreed.

    These terms serve as an unstable crutch for those who are more hesitant to get on board. Time will make short work of both.

    “Only when the tide goes out, do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

  4. Operating in a multichannel environment isn’t new, that’s right, but it’s becoming increasingly sophisticated, if you will do it right.
    To create and maintain outstanding or innovative multichannel relationships across digital channels, you must deploy the right tools, like suitable and qualified communications for each channel, and rethink organizational structures. But to do this right you have to focus on the customer and NOT on the channel.
    Picking your channels well for your brand, your strategy, your product, your target group is really important when considering multi-channel marketing.
    And the best way to do this is put yourself in your customers shoes.
    http://ux4dotcom.blogspot.de/2010/08/walk-while-in-someone-elses-shoes.html

  5. Pingback: Content Merchandising Roundup #57 : content ping

  6. In an ecommerce context people talk more about multi-channel retailing rather than multi-channel marketing and there’s an important difference.
    There are plenty of retailers that only sell their goods through a single channel, whether that’s bricks&mortar, or a website, or indeed an ebay storefront. When you are using a combination of these you become a multi-channel retailer – there’s no bullshit there, it’s a useful distinction.
    To call yourself an omni-channel retailer implies that you sell your goods through every channel that’s available to the customer = pure bullshit.

  7. Pat says:

    It’s an interesting article but I besides agreeing with you that this buzzword itself is over-used I think it is important and a key feature especially for merchants to have a common strategy for all marketing channels (rather then separate messages). There are some really neat marketing actions from companies combining e.g. web., print and TV in a great and interactive way
    Also as someone pointed out another story is multi-channel commerce concepts, e.g. product showrooms with online order to the doorstep and in general different ways and strategies to attract attention to the online shop via offline stores.

  8. Amy Birch says:

    Thanks for the post Wiljo. I especially liked ‘once “cross-channel” marketing becomes the norm, it will simply be called “marketing” again. And no one will ask why.’. As with most new things, once people are accustomed it, it will revert to the norm, and I’m sure someone will come up with a new buzz word. Marketing is one large wheel that continues to move whilst adapting as it goes. Cheers.

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