Giving your customers a seamless, quality shopping experience at all touch points should be the goal of all retailers in this ever-changing, customer-centric world. There has been much talk about omnichannel over the last few years but retailers need to shift their focus to unified commerce.
So what is unified commerce?
89% of all retailers compete based on the customer experience, according to a report by Gartner1. Unified commerce prioritises customers in the same way as omnichannel, but instead of relying on multiple internal channels of operation, it uses one central platform that gives you real-time operation and connection with all your customer touch points.
How does unified commerce differ from omnichannel?
In typical omnichannel scenarios, retailers rely on multiple stand-alone systems to manage each sales channel. The disadvantage in this is that much of your data becomes fenced-off, and requires further investment to integrate your systems. But even then, this shared information is not always 100% trustworthy. One in four retailers say low-quality integrations are the key problem with retail management systems.
Unified commerce removes this by uniting all your sales channels in a single, real-time platform. This makes current accurate information available to all of your customers and merchants when they need it and where they need it.
4 Key benefits of unified commerce:
By enabling you to give your customers the best customer service, you will be more competitive, drive up sales and improve customer loyalty – here is how:
1. Visibility of your inventory
Aligning your inventory is one of the most frequent issues when selling across channels. Complicating the situation is that increasingly, customers expect to be able to return purchases via different channels and buy goods, even when they are not in store.
With unified commerce, your in-store people will have access to an “endless aisle” of available stock across the business, and arrange to ship the item directly to the consumer. All inventory is visible in real-time, across all channels, and continously updated.
2. Multiple fulfilment options
Customers will judge you at the point of delivery. Not only do they want speed, but sometimes more importantly they insist on convenience. They want to choose when to deliver, where to deliver (a near by store or collection point or their home), and they want to be able to track the delivery along the way.
Unified commerce platforms draw on customer and stock information to allow you to offer multiple fulfilment options to your customers.
3. Digitising the store
We can only consider unified commerce because of the innovation of technologies over recent times. Key amongst these innovative technologies is mobile POS and clienteling. Mobile POS means your shop staff are no longer chained to one place – they can serve customers anywhere in store. Mobile clienteling puts a vast array information in the hands of your staff – whether its product, promotion or stock information, or specific customer purchasing behaviour. It enables them to offer an excellent level of customer service.
Implementing, integrating and maintaining multiple systems can be costly. There are the costs of installing the systems and keeping them all working together. But there are also the lost-sales and lost-customer costs related to poorer alignment across the systems, insufficient visibility into inventory, and failure to deliver on fulfilment promises. A single centralised, real-time platform can be far less expensive and deliver far better results.
The bottom line
A unified commerce platform brings all your systems together in a single, easy-to-use, accurate and current location which can be accessed whenever or wherever, across all your customer touch points. You will give your shoppers a superior experience always.
If you would like to know more about unified commerce, and about the difference it can make for your sales, operations and customer service, we’d love to hear from you.