Customer experience has become the pivotal point in marketing. Businesses have understood this and 89% of them expect to be competing with each other on this basis, as customer experience positions itself as a key brand differentiator, outrunning price and product. With the advent of numerous digital innovations, selling channels are being diversified, making management of customer experience rather difficult for retailers. To avoid the backlash that may be entailed with the adoption of multiple channels, brands are seeking to adopt a unified commerce platform, and 2017 has already been tagged as the year of unified commerce.
What exactly is unified commerce?
Unified Commerce positions customer experience as the top priority. Through this strategy, brands and retailers seek to offer a seamless customer experience by leveraging every transaction, experience, and management on a single platform. As such, independent internal channels operating in their own silos are broken down, leading to every single manipulation being converged towards a single, centralized and real-time platform.
Every time information is updated, for example, the change is done in real-time across all existing channels, not requiring manual administration. Already, according to a survey carried out by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), 73% of retailers are planning to embrace unified commerce by the end of 2019.
Unified commerce is not the same as omnichannel
Many marketers may have a first thought that unified commerce sounds very similar to omnichannel. However, such is not the case. Essentially, in omnichannel, there are multiple channels. Yet, they do not converge on one unique software or platform. Generally, every channel has separate, stand-alone operating systems that make a bigger disparate system with various silos. Obviously, inconsistent data is shared across as there is no single unified data crossing the channels.
On the other hand, everything is related in real-time in unified commerce. The web, the mobile apps or site, the physical store are all connected and operate in symbiosis in real time. Consistent data is shared across platforms, avoiding inaccurate information.
Unified Commerce boasts a range of advantages
Unified Commerce represents a set of advantages both for customers and retailers, with the focal point being an enhanced customer experience that in turn, generates a series of positive impacts.
With regards to customers, the latter want extreme convenience: they want to buy anywhere, receive anywhere and return anywhere. Moreover, the level of expectation goes even beyond this bubble as channels are crossed. For example, if a customer buys online and is not satisfied with a product, he would want to return the product in a physical store. Or, if a product is out of stock, the salesperson may be able to order it for the customer online.
Customers can make easier online purchases
When making purchases online, customers need to have accurate product information easily. Here is some basic but crucial information that retailers should think of providing and that is easily possible with a unified platform:
- Inventory availability across stores
- Detailed product descriptions across channels
- Relevant product recommendations and timely
- Past purchased history
Unified commerce gives better inventory visibility
When a brand is selling across multiple channels, keep inventory quantities updated across all the channels in real-time is crucial. Having a unified platform avoids overselling and having frustrated customers. A unified commerce allows merchants to perform endless aisle, that is, allowing customers to buy products that are out –of-stock in physical stores. Inventory visibility supports inventory management and you can ensure that your customers have the products to buy.
Customers have a range of delivery options
Customers want a seamless shopping experience. They do not bother whether the product is being made online or offline as long as it suits their convenience. Subsequently, retailers should stop dissecting sales channel into stand-alone ones. A unified platform offers this seamless experience and allows merchants to improve services by offering options such as buying online, picking up in-store, returning in-store etc.
Businesses can use a more simplified platform
A unified commerce can be brought down to a simplification of multiple channels. The technology needed itself is simplified as brands and retailers no longer need separate systems to run separate channels. With a unified platform, a single advanced middleware is needed to replace everything. This single operating software makes it easy in terms of integration.
Article published in E-commerce
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