In this day of digital technology and online shopping, empowered shoppers want to see more from their retail experience. This is not news, however, and shoppers now carry a smartphone that has more computing power than ever before. They can browse the goods in one store while cross-referencing with another store’s website prices, and checking real-time reviews of the products they are looking to buy on social media. All at the same time.
Retailers are dedicated to their customer’s experiences
And retailers are well aware of this. They know very well the importance of customer experience and are dedicated to providing their customers with the best retail experience possible. And this is where unified commerce comes in. It is omnichannel retail at its best and is global, sustainable, and hugely profitable.
A company’s brand identity depends on the individual success of each and every transaction and customer engagement. Since brand loyalty is never static, and a customer’s affinity with a brand can change at the drop of a hat, retailers are constantly facing the ups and downs of consumer fads. But the consumer never has the downs, they only have the ups. Their constantly increasing expectations have fueled the maturity of the digital shopping channels such as Amazon, and have forever changed the way people shop. An empowered shopper is no longer bound by international borders – they have a global reach, an expanded access to international sites, and they always expect free shipping.
Omnichannel was a step towards Unified Commerce
These international shoppers expect the best customer experience at all costs. Omnichannel originally blurred the difference between digital and physical channels, but at a cost that was not sustainable. With too many systems to run and too much focus at a huge cost, it did little to address the expectations of customer experience. Omnichannel was an important stepping stone to the right system, but it is nothing more than a stepping stone. In order to improve it, retailers knew that the technology had to be able to do more, by making commerce complete. Retailers failed to address the missing scenarios such as cross-border shopping, multiple marketplaces, and intelligent shipping. And these are the simple truths that make unified commerce a possibility.
Study results make it clear that Unified Commerce is needed
Unified commerce on a global scale is a retail journey that allows merchants to exceed the customer’s expectations with a perfect combination of experience, insight, and execution. And these are all the things that are needed to ensure lasting customer loyalty and growth of profitability. According to a recent study by the Boston Retail Partners, 75 percent of retailers are planning to use a single unified commerce platform within the next three years. This same study has given retailers a realization that there is a need for urgency.
91 percent of merchants are planning to offer that cross-channel inventory and order visibility within 3 years. Moreover, 90 percent also plan to use a centralized system of inventory management, order management, and an integrated CRM within a unified commerce platform inside the same time frame. 77 percent have plans of offering a “buy anywhere, ship anywhere” ability to their customers, and 57 percent plan to offer multi-channel shared carts, giving the customer the ability to start a transaction on one site and finish it anywhere they choose. These are the bones of what makes unified commerce possible.
Retailers need to give customer what they want
Retailers need to be able to let their customers shop how, when, and where they like, and still give them the same excellent customer experience. It is expected that, by 2020, the industry will be looking at over a billion customers spending over one trillion dollars in consumer retail purchases. This means that cross-border shopping is imperative, as is the need to be able to offer the shipping options that each individual customer wants. This is a challenge for retailers since there are different shopping styles around the world. For example, in China, Japan, and Australia, the use of marketplaces is very popular, while in countries such as Canada, Hong Kong, France, and America, customers prefer to use retail websites. Any global retail strategy needs to be flexible enough to handle a unique strategy for each country. Only a correctly unified platform can deliver this to the customer while expanding and improving your existing retail systems.
Unified Commerce is set to be universal
Unified commerce is becoming a major priority for around 85 percent of retailers. It can address the increasing costs that global reach has given while reducing the limitations of the omnichannel commerce platforms. But, is this new unified commerce platform just a fad, or is it going to be a universally adopted system for retailers. Modern retailers have learned some valuable lessons from previous platforms and omnichannel systems. The unified commerce platform has been embraced in a decisive manner by retailers so far. It represents the answers to global reach, sustainability, and profitability, while still providing that all-important amazing customer experience. All it needs now is for the technology providers to make this more of a reality for the modern retailer.
Article published in E-commerce