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Multichannel retailing is the merging of retail operations in such a manner that enables the transacting of a customer via many connected channels. Channels include: retail stores, online stores, mobile stores, mobile app stores, telephone sales and any other method of transacting with a customer. Transacting includes browsing, buying, returning as well as pre and post sale service.
Multichannel retailing is often said to be dictated by systems and processes when in fact it is the customer that dictates the route they take to transact. Systems and processes within retail simply facilitate the customer journey to transact and be served. Pioneers of multichannel retailing include Macy's, Next PLC, John Lewis and Neiman Marcus, though specialist businesses such as Linnworks or ChannelGrabber have made the concept the success that it is in modern e-commerce. The pioneers of multichannel retail built their businesses from a customer centric perspective and served the customer via many channels long before the term 'multichannel' was used. Recent variations of the term include omni-channel.