What is Unified Commerce and what does it mean to your customer?
The Consumer in Today’s World
The traditional retail model has experienced significant disruption over the last decade. While businesses have been incrementally waking to this reality, the last few years have forced merchants and brands to make the transition to D2C now rather than later. This era has imparted a significant lesson that in order to gain loyalty and repeat sales, businesses need to nurture direct relationships with today’s consumer.
Tethered to their smartphones, the consumer in today’s world is always connected. Understanding evolving consumer expectations has never been more important. They begin and conclude their shopping journey on different channels and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, via mobile, online, or in-store. While shopping among channels, consumers expect retailers to recognize them and provide a secure and personalized shopping experience and disseminate product, pricing, and inventory information seamlessly across all channels. To make things more complex, shorter shipping deadlines and multiple fulfillment options have become the norm.
The cost of missing out on meeting customers’ expectations goes beyond the loss of one sale. 57% of customers have stopped buying from a company altogether because a competitor provided a better experience. And 67% of customers say they’ll pay more for a greater experience. In other words, if brands cater to customers with the precision and personalization they expect, businesses gain loyal customers and repeat sales. If not, brands lose the customer altogether.
A frictionless, personalized shopping journey is possible through the convergence of digital and physical shopping environments. The conjunction allows brands to offer convenience to customers regarding when, where, and how they want to shop, while simultaneously garnering valuable data on consumers at every touchpoint. What follows is a highly personalized experience for their customers. The key to enabling this cohesiveness is a unified commerce platform. By 2020, 81% of retailers will deploy unified commerce platforms to support commerce across channels and users.
What is Unified Commerce?
At its core, unified commerce responds to the disruptive shifts in retail by merging the front end and back end systems into a single platform. In other words, it merges the omnichannel and multichannel for a more holistic system. By consolidating into one platform, brands can gain a single view of sales, networks, and inventory across digital and physical channels. It also allows merchants to gain a single view of customer behavior at every touchpoint irrespective of the channel. Through this agile technology, retailers can offer consistent shopping experiences.
Before unified commerce, it was difficult for retailers to manage all the transactions via siloed platforms. Think of all the platforms, channels, and applications retailers have to use in order to meet the expectations of today’s shoppers: e-commerce, mobile commerce, fulfillment, POS, social commerce, CRM, PIM, and a cohort of others. Historically, these systems have always been disconnected, and therefore their data output incomplete. Making informed decisions based on inaccurate data was due to an absence of accurate information. In contrast, unified commerce connects each appendage and provides accurate data, making disparate platforms a thing of the past. Businesses can use unified commerce to connect all their stock and ensure that their customers get what they want when they want it.
In order to transition to unified commerce, businesses should sell everywhere, fulfill in any way, and manage everything in one central platform. The main components of unified commerce are interactions, channels, systems, and products, which require an intuitive technology ecosystem to make selling everywhere less laborious.