Although unified commerce is a relatively new concept, the ultimatum of a retail business remains the same. Over the years, several smart businesses have come to terms with the significance of offering a frictionless, consistent, and personalized shopping experience across every sales channel in the customer’s buying journey. Unified commerce is a strategy that takes a leap from those old-school, conventional techniques, wherein the various touchpoints of a retail store are operated in silos without a single repository of transparency into the end-to-end customer journey.
The benefits that can be reaped from unified commerce are tangible. However, there are a multitude of hurdles that comes along during the transition phase. Blindly investing on a unified commerce strategy is not going to help you on its own. To warrant a solid return on investment, businesses like yours must have to make smart use of their resources in value-added areas that will create a significant difference to their operations and meet customer demands.
So, what should smart retailers like you be looking forward to achieve this? The roadmap to an ideal unified commerce approach requires flexible retailing and merchandise planning along with effective approaches.
Indulging Your Customers
Millennial customers with smartphones prefer shopping on-the-go to experience swift shopping. As retail businesses witness a shift in customer journeys, it’s imperative for them to make mobile shopping experience seamless. Customers of late have opted to partake in a multichannel journey and if your business doesn’t offer the same, your sales and brand value are at stake.
The basic requirement for a unified approach is that you should no longer consider your sales channels as individual entities. Your e-commerce, mobile, and POS channels are all part of your customers’ experience with your brand along with new age touchpoints like marketplaces, social media, influencers, etc. Moreover, in a unified commerce approach, customers are a part of your brand even before they reach your outlets.
Retailers have also realized the value of cognitive automation to uncover smart insights around customer and product data. A single version of unifying commerce links a customer profile to their social media accounts, loyalty cards, reward cards, and website profiles. With the abundance of customer and product data, retailers can enhance sales and customer loyalty through cognitive automation.
The Unified Commerce Recipe
So, what could a unified commerce platform look like for your business and your customers? It’s time to dive into the four key areas that are essential if your business wants to make unified commerce a great success.
1. Enabling seamless communication between interconnected systems
The back-end of a retail landscape constitutes various systems and applications such as e-commerce, UI navigation, mobile payments, and POS. As these applications are interconnected to each other, it could lead to delay in business performance. Regardless of your business deploying microservices architecture or making the best use of CRM and cloud migration, a lack of applying them in a unified approach to landscape impacts customer engagement. DevOps, Automation, etc. are a good mix to the ‘enablement’ ingredient for maximizing your digital commerce channels and delivering omnichannel retail and beyond. With microservices architecture in place, you can create a unified shopping experience from social media, kiosks, physical retail outlets, and any other sales channel your business initiates.
Read more: Unified Commerce Enablemenet & Accelerate
2. Create a single version of unified data
With an abundance of data available from various retail systems, businesses are still unable to make the best use of it in omnichannel retailing. With huge chunks of voluminous data coming in every day from varied sources such as customers, warehouses, finances, products, and more, retailers must leverage the ‘data’ ingredient to unify and integrate it into two major streams as customer data hub and product data hub. By achieving this, businesses can get a 360 degree view of their customers with accurate product information.
Read more: Unified Data
3. Leveraging technology to enhance customer experience
Enhancing customer experience is one of the hallmarks of the retail industry. The ball is in your court to give tech-savvy customers what they want. The ‘enhance’ ingredient helps you leverage all those niche technologies including cognitive automation, AR/VR, smart mirrors, and voice/visual-based search to smoothen customer experience. Retailers must be equipped to readily adapt to these technologies in order to deliver a contextual, unified experience for their customers, failing which they might risk holding the wooden spoon against their competitors.
4. Discover insights from customers to make every channel count
As customer satisfaction is what every retailer yearns for, the ‘insights’ ingredient is designed to focus on discovering how to delight customers. Sales analysts in every business are having a hard time gleaning valuable insights from various parameters such as customer browsing patterns, buying preferences, lifestyle data, and purchase cycles since these data are disorganized, siloed, and raw. With a unified commerce approach, the ‘insights’ ingredient pulls out valuable product and customer focused information that would help retailers understand current sales trends. With the assistance of niche technologies, you can better understand customer journeys and chalk out personalized campaigns for customers. By tracking your marketing and sales campaigns, your business will go a long way in maximizing ROI and build healthy customer relationships.
The four ingredients discussed in this blog are an instrumental part of a seamless unified commerce transition. Based on the analysis of your business’ future readiness, you must ensure all these ingredients are mixed in right amounts to create the right unified commerce journey for your customers.
Talk to us to know where you stand with your unified commerce initiatives and how we can together create the path to unified journey.