One of the latest buzzwords in the retail vertical is “unified commerce.” There’s a lot to know about this term, so in this article, we break down the definition, benefits, and more.
What is Unified Commerce?
Unified commerce means that a retailer’s channels and systems are all interconnected. On the backend, channel data (such as data from the retailer’s website and mobile app), as well as systems data (inventory management data and more), can all be accessed in one centralized business platform.
Unified Commerce vs. Omnichannel
You may be familiar with the term “omnichannel.” Omnichannel shopping is when a retailer provides multiple channels for a customer to make a purchase - such as in-store, online at a website, or through a mobile app.
However, an omnichannel setup often uses manual processes and multiple interfaces, resulting in siloed data. Retailers may not be able to easily sync information across those different channels, or to systems such as inventory management.
In a unified commerce strategy, these systems are all connected, as shown in the diagram below. This enables the business to have accurate and consistent data across all its channels and systems.
For example, if someone sees an ad on their mobile phone for a deal on a product, when they later visit the company’s website, they should see that same deal available there as well. Or, when they go into a brick-and-mortar store location, the store should have a record of the loyalty points the customer earned from making a purchase on the website.
The Importance of Unified Commerce
Unified commerce is important because customers are coming to expect it as a part of their shopping experience. Retailers can use a unified commerce strategy to increase customer loyalty and engagement, as well as increase revenue. Findings from recent studies show the importance of unified commerce:
- 73% of consumers use multiple channels to shop.
- 61% of consumers start shopping on one device but finish the transaction on a different device.
- One study showed that omnichannel customers spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers.
- 62% of consumers expect companies to send them personalized discounts or offers based on their past purchases.
The Four Components of Unified Commerce
Unified commerce can be broken down into four main components - systems, channels, products, and interactions.
Unified commerce integrates all of a business’s systems, including both customer-facing and backend systems. Retail management systems, eCommerce platforms, and more must all work together cohesively as part of a greater whole.
Customers should find a seamless and consistent shopping experience across all of a business’s channels. If they start shopping on one channel but decide to finish their transaction on another channel, they should find the same promotions across both channels. If a customer buys a product online but decides to return it in-store, the store should have a record of that online purchase and be able to complete the return.
Product information and inventory should be up-to-date. Information should be available across all channels so that a customer who starts shopping on one channel finds consistent and accurate product information if and when they switch to a different channel. Unified commerce also allows for expanded ways for customers to receive their product, such as home delivery and “BOPIS” (buy online, pickup in-store).
With customers interacting with a business across multiple channels, it is essential that customer behavior is recorded in a unified way across those channels. This gives customers a better, more personalized experience, and also provides valuable analytics that a business can use to refine their sales and marketing methods.
The Benefits of Unified Commerce
A unified commerce strategy benefits both the business and the customer in a number of ways. It helps the business run more smoothly and also provides a frictionless customer experience.
Automated Business Processes
A unified commerce platform increases employee productivity because, rather than spending time managing multiple manual business processes, it allows them to focus on the customer experience and other revenue-driving tasks.
Employees are able to see updated inventory across all sales channels. This helps them keep more accurate inventory and reduces chances of over- or under-selling.
Unified commerce platforms give companies more data to work with. This gives them a more accurate picture of their business, which in turn, allows for more accurate forecasting.
When a business has multiple sales channels but those channels aren’t connected, this can cause costly inaccuracies and errors. Unified commerce turns those separate channels into one cohesive whole, cutting down on errors and increasing accuracy.
Unified commerce increases sales by giving customers multiple channels to use to make a purchase (as well as allowing customers to easily start a transaction through one channel and finish it through another), therefore making the buying experience easy and convenient for them.
Commerce Enablement Solutions
Independent software vendors can help their customers move toward implementing a unified commerce strategy by offering our commerce enablement solutions within their software. Innovative communication and payment functions, plus valuable data and insights, help merchants grow their business and engage with customers at every customer journey touchpoint. To learn more, contact us today.