The recent pandemic brings the paradigm shift and forces retailers to innovate their way of business, and Unified commerce has been and continues to be the emerging trend. Modernized commerce has emerged as a fundamental need for the future of retailing. However, with prolonged wait times for entering online sites and obtaining delivery slots, e-commerce sites were choked beyond capacity. The vital features for new commerce normalcy are versatility and openness to lend themselves to new business models. Innovations are like the rise of more omnichannel channels, subscriptions and emerging payment/checkout options like Cryptocurrency, curbside pickup, scan and pay, appointment-based shopping, etc.
Enable Omnichannel Retail by Default
In providing a seamless omnichannel experience, the most significant challenge is less synchronization between the point of sale and eCommerce and disparity among checkout system for offline and online channels. To make the application landscape complex and expensive to maintain, complex point-to-point integrations between these systems are responsible. To enable omnichannel by default, retailers must find a way to de-duplicate commerce elements or else it will result in 70-80% duplication of features or capabilities, as common domains such as product, cart, payment, tax, receipt, pricing, promotion, and returns, are usually the core of most checkout platforms.
Think how cool it is to connect all platforms! Suppose they may explore the product on the website, pay through a mobile app, and collect it from the physical store. And only unified commerce can make this possible. And all we know is that the more reliable customer experience is directly proportional to the growth of a retail business.
In order to grow retail revenue, your ultimate approach as a retailer should be customer centric. You need to integrate multichannel and omnichannel in one, i.e., unified commerce to stay ahead of the game.
Let’s dive into the world of unified commerce.
What is Unified commerce?
Centralizing all the collected data about products and customers on a single platform is the prime strategy behind the concept of Unified Commerce. To help provide more insights into how to improve the customer experience (CX), unified commerce approach interconnects systems of CRM, mCommerce, and eCommerce.
The main agenda of this approach is to connect customer-facing channels with backend systems via a single platform. Companies adopting Unified Commerce are creating a unified view of inventory management systems, product details, shopper interaction, and overall CRM.
The Journey from Omnichannel to Unified Commerce
In terms of providing an omnichannel experience, retailers need to sell their products across multiple platforms. E.g., before buying in-store or adding products to the cart on the website, a customer searching products on a mobile device and likes to finish the checkout process on the mobile application as buyers usually prefer to purchase several platforms. So, retailers need to adopt a unified system to meet the customer experience gaps in omnichannel delivery.
Whether retailers are taking considerations of multiple platforms of retailers such as a mobile app, website, or even the storefronts, consumers get consistent, real-time updates regarding products, availability, pricing, and recommendations. And by utilizing unified commerce, retailers can synchronize it all in a single unified system.
Let’s how omnichannel and unified commerce differs.
Omnichannel VS. Unified Commerce
Unified commerce is just an advanced version of omnichannel approach. Both are inextricably linked. Let’s see how omnichannel is different from Unified Commerce Solution.
|Features||Omnichannel Approach||Unified Commerce|
It is a multichannel approach to sales with a focus on seamless CX irrespective of platform
This approach connects customer-facing channels with backend systems via a single platform
Traditional Coupled Architecture
Headless or Decoupled Architecture
Manually publish messages to non-connected channels
Automatically publish consistent messages to all channels.
Data Flow & Interpretation
Not able to provide consolidated data from various channels leading to less personalized customer experience
It can track across all channels to provide consolidate date to deliver integrated experience
As it is a multichannel approach to sales, customer may feel disconnected if Personalization is not done on a system-by-system rollout basis.
Since the data is unified, you can better identify and understand customer needs and provide a seamless cross-channel experiences.
Questions retailers need to ask before aiming for actual unified commerce.
Let’s see what ETG eCommerce experts suggest retailers
Q: Why is it important to think beyond omnichannel practices?
Naturally, many retailers find themselves at some stage of an omnichannel transformation as they have realized that a seamless omnichannel shopping experience is now the new normal. But the current scenario of omnichannel implementation is creating a mirage of a fluid customer experience. To enable true omnichannel retail, a mere connection between all your channels by integrating disparate systems is not enough. For an actual connected experience, you need a single dashboard synchronizing all your inventory, customer, and product data across channels. So, in the opinion of eCommerce experts, the first step to omnichannel retailing is implementing true unified commerce. The future may bring further disruptions to the retail consumer and industry, but unified commerce is the only way to respond to technological innovations. To guarantee a fluid front-end customer journey, frictionless back-end operations rank top in the priority list.
Q: The need for the sole source of truth is essential, yet it is quite different from retailer to retailer – How can you prioritize?
A brand’s priorities on the path to unified commerce depend on the specific shopping journey as customers are at the center of today’s demand-driven retail economy. For example, in order to provide personalized service, a brand would prioritize a solid CRM system to have customer data at their fingertips. On the other hand, other retailers want to enable delivery anytime, anywhere, and so, first aim to have a robust order management system.
In any case, in order to have the ability to orchestrate your customer journey the way you want and, ultimately, how they want, you must have all your inventory, customer and product data unified irrespective of your vertical or the size of your business. This unified commerce platform is the foundation on which you can build as sophisticated a retail structure as you desire.
For example, you can fulfill all orders anywhere when you have real-time visibility of your inventory and customers. Furthermore, you can create targeted promotions based on available inventory and customer preferences. A centralized platform gives you complete control of your operations anytime, anywhere — the same way your customers operate and equips you with current requirements.
Q: To ensure everything works smoothly, what considerations should you weigh carefully while implementing Unified Commerce?
When it comes to achieving unified commerce success, the benefits of an end-to-end platform far outweigh the points of a single integrated system, as a unified commerce platform synchronizes all the data from omnichannel sources in real-time to offer a unique shopping experience. Specifically, for a thriving omnichannel ecosystem, the three core segments of inventory, product, and customer information are the most crucial factors to lay the groundwork. So, make sure this data is consistently available in real-time. To flow key information freely across modules, without any choke points due to integration issues or miscommunication between disparate systems, the optimal way is to store everything under a single roof. Eventually, having multiple best-of-breed solutions to manage various aspects of omnichannel retailing may negatively impact your business. To allow for real-time reporting and optimal decision-making, the best possible game plan is to ensure the consolidation of your critical business data in a single system.
Q: Is legacy retail technology has been architected to handle the real-time requirements?
To deliver a next-generation customer experience, retailers must adopt the technology that supports the seamless convergence of in-store and digital experiences. Nowadays, customers’ expectations have changed, they want real-time feedback, able to navigate multiple touchpoints, and personalized buying experience.
The problem is that legacy retail technology hasn’t been architected to handle these real-time requirements and harmonize business processes across all customer touchpoints. Retailers need to evolve their thoughts and must move beyond siloed thinking.
Q: How ETG can make you market ready to adopt unified commerce?
If you’re already in the retail eCommerce business, you know the omnichannel experience has changed the game of customer experience, customer loyalty, and retention. The next step in this journey is unified commerce, which can ensure that your brand stays ahead of the competition by enabling you to deliver consistent experiences across all channels — in-store, mobile, and digital. Of course, there are some challenges like disparate legacy systems, organizational inertia, demonstrating ROI, etc.
But ETG can serve you best with a single intelligent platform, world #1 CRM Salesforce, that combines commerce with marketing, sales, service, applications, analytics.
We can help you in
- Transforming your organization to be customer centric.
- Optimizing your inventory management across all channels
- Leveraging technology to provide a dynamic storefront
- Empowering employees to work more productively and provide loyalty-building customer service.
Do you want to streamline global growth and serve your customers better? Unified Commerce is the way. Consider choosing the right Partner who are align to your business requirements to provide expert strategy and guidance to accelerate your approach. Reach ETG Commerce experts to create your unified commerce strategy today. With the proper foundation, achieving your business goals can be surprisingly simple.
About ETG Digital
ETG is a Salesforce Strategic partner. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, ETG is ISO 9001:2015 certified company with a global delivery center in Hyderabad, India. We have a dedicated team serving the business worldwide from multiple locations in the US, Canada, UAE, UK, Australia, and India. Over the last two decades, we have been dedicated to customer success through leveraging emerging technologies. We provide customized and tailor-made solutions for retailers starting their eCommerce journey.
Drop us a note firstname.lastname@example.org to start your digital transformation journey.