Multi, cross or omni?

Multi, cross or omni?

Multi-channel, cross-channel or omni-channel: what does it all mean – and where is the journey heading?

Retailers have always offered consumers a variety of sales channels to meet their need for flexibility and independence – for example, the option of ordering by phone or of submitting orders from a catalogue. The prevalence of the Internet, and now smartphones, is opening up new avenues of communication and placing growing demands on merchants: customers can shop any time, anywhere, and in real time.

Multi-channel, cross-channel or omni-channel?

Most people understand the word "multi-channel" as being the option to choose between various sales channels with the same merchant. In contrast to the terms "cross-channel" and "omni-channel", multi-channel specifically means that the channels can largely be operated independently of one another.

Cross-channel goes one step further than this: the channels are linked with one another. In other words, a customer can order online and then pick their item up in the store – giving them even more flexibility. Technically and organizationally speaking, however, the channels remain separated from one another.

Nowadays, the trend is increasingly moving in the direction of omni-channel sales. Here, the channels truly do merge with one another: for example, a customer can make a purchase by taking a picture of a product from a poster or scanning the relevant QR code – turning whole billboards into a virtual shop. Or they can hold their smartphone up to the shoes the person next to them in the office is wearing and the option appears to buy the shoes online. Or they are standing in front of a shop window and can use their smartphone to purchase online what they see in front of them or arrange to pick it up at their convenience. Or, or, or....

Are high street stores a thing of the past?

No. The emergence of multi-, cross- and omni-channels does not mean that high street stores will disappear, and so far there have been no indications that things are headed in this direction. On the contrary, they offer merchants the opportunity to reach as many client groups as possible – and even to tap into new ones – by appealing to their preferences and making it as easy as possible for them to spend their money. This also includes the products for sale in stores.

However, high street stores will in future likely have to face stronger and stronger competition from other sales channels. Merchants who do not offer multi-, cross- or omni-channel services will find it harder and harder to retain their market share.


Selling via a variety of channels and merging these channels into a combined shopping experience sounds promising, but it is also extremely time-consuming and cost-intensive. First and foremost, all channels need to be professionally set up and maintained – not least when it comes to payments. SIX will be happy to assist you in your plans and has a payment solution to suit all sales channel variations.