Understanding Unified Commerce

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Today’s consumers, more than ever, demand access to the best products, the latest technologies, the coolest brands, and most of all to an amazing shopping experience that is seamless across all sales channels. However, even today, several retailers are sluggish in embracing a unified commerce strategy as a result of which their customers don’t always have access to a desirable, continuous experience while browsing, selecting, shopping, making payments for, and reviewing products of their choice as well as while returning them across retail channels.

Omni-channel Retail Strategy, popularized during recent years was supposed to address this and offer the savvy customers a consistent, superior shopping experience across every website, marketplace mobile app, and in-store sales channel. But while omni-channel made an excellent attempt at integrating a patchwork of disconnected business systems and applications, it hasn’t quite solved the complications that arise out of disconnected systems working in silos, which hinders the ability to deliver a complete, cohesive and curated customer experience.

Unified Commerce Strategy is seen as the next step in modern retail technology as it helps a retail business deliver a reliable, comprehensive experience no matter how or where its customers are shopping from.

 

What is Unified Commerce?

The retail industry has witnessed an evolution from separate offline stores and purely online sales through websites to distributed ecosystems comprising of numerous sales channels. In order to be successful, retailers today need to merge all their retail touchpoints, deliver personalization across all sales channels, and provide an omni-channel customer experience. To achieve this, they implement various software solutions such as a Point-of-Sale (POS), a Customer Relationship Management (CRM), inventory management and order fulfilment systems amongst others, coupled with technologies such as e-commerce, data analysis, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML). But getting all these different apps, solutions and systems to interact uninterruptedly with each other is a demanding task.

Unified commerce drives the omni-channel retail experience to the next level by replacing all the disconnected IT systems with a single, centralized platform, which combines the POS, CRM, e-commerce, m-commerce (mobile commerce), order fulfillment, inventory management, and other technologies.

Disconnected systems operate in silos without inherently communicating with each other. As a result, the data collected by them has limited usage and is often redundant. Consequentially, companies tend to make decisions based on incomplete data, which hinders their ability to provide their consumers the desired shopper experience. By integrating everything onto a centralized unified commerce platform, such companies can eliminate this holdup and ensure that the right systems are inter-connected and sharing data for an optimized outcome.

Unified Commerce Diagram

The Difference between Omni-channel and Unified Commerce

One of the core tenets of an omni-channel retail strategy is that it’s built to deliver an experience that unifies the diverse phygital (digital and physical) commerce into a single, cohesive shopping experience. However, this does not include ensuring that all the other systems such as order management system, order fulfilment, NFC payment devices, etc. are interfacing well with the omni-channel retail solutions and communicating freely with each other. As such, omni-channel strategy often involves complex integrations and manual processes that can create data silos, thwart efficiency, and eventually increase costs.

Unified Commerce strategy mandates that both the data and the different constituent systems are unified so that there is only one version of the truth (data) and the exact same experience across channels (unified systems) that the customers and employees can get. Retail enterprises today should hence envision unified commerce as a primary business strategy as essentially, it is about offering customers a truly consistent experience across all retail channels.

 

Benefits of a Unified Commerce Solution

Concentrating on customer-centricity is the mantra (motto) of the modern-day retail world, wherein your customer’s needs and desires are a concern above all others. The magnificence of the unified commerce approach is that it provides the right tools for making your business customer-centric.

A unified commerce platform offers the following 4 benefits by means of which retail customers will get a seamless shopping experience:

For the retailers, the benefits of implementing a unified commerce platform are:

Benefits of Unified Commerce for Retailers

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