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Omnichannel or Multichannel?

Here’s a detailed post from Bradley Taylor for GoDaddy‘s WooCommerce Wednesdays — all about multichannel selling. I was curious to see why that’s being billed as the future of e-commerce. I’ve read more about “omnichannel” as the buzzword of the future. Neither is something that WooCommerce does well without extensive customization.

The idea behind omnichannel is to focus on the customer with really smart marketing and analytics so you can recognize and interact intelligently with the same person (or repeat customer) when they switch devices, show up on a social channel (or in your physical storefront), buy something from your Etsy site, or create an account on your WooCommerce site. Multichannel is more about getting your product or service out on multiple channels. I suspect that if you do multichannel well over time, you’ll want to improve it in a more “omni” direction.

The idea behind multichannel is practical and simple — get your inventory and sales out of your site onto the other platforms your customers shop in, from Amazon to Etsy. Then your storefront serves as one channel among many — while also acting as a hub for all the other channels.

Where this gets tricky is deciding what other platforms to sell on, setting them up individually, and then integrating sales, inventory, and analytics data. Selling on more than one channel is powerful, but your channels are also silos without integrated marketing and analytics tools. Imagine being able to recognize the same customer across multiple channels, understand their purchasing path, and communicate appropriately.

To smooth out many of these wrinkles, GoDaddy is promoting their Sellbrite tool, which is new to me — and free for small businesses.

Jacque Cuisinot at WooCommerce.com recommends using Square with Woo to unify inventory and sales data in an Omnichannel strategy, but that’s just one (very important) piece of the puzzle.