To Anya’s mother, shopping meant getting into her car and driving to the mall or store she wanted to buy from. For her daughter, Zoya, shopping isn’t confined to a brick-and-mortar store. From the laptop on her desk, the phone in her bag, the personal assistant in her living room – every device is a retail destination.
In the digital age, retail is everywhere.
Reason enough for the retail industry to change track from the traditional format to a unified experience. A Boston Retail Partners report said 28% of retailers had adopted unified commerce by 2018, with 81% aiming to deploy it by 2020.
We’re now into 2021, and interest in unified retail is growing among companies and brands.
According to Gartner, unified commerce is “the practice of providing flexibility, continuity and consistency across digital and physical channels to deliver a superior customer experience”.
The growing interest and continuing evolution necessitate the use of new metrics. In this article, we showcase how the advancement of unified retail experiences needs new metrics:
- To learn about the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter
- To ensure efficient business ops and offer a frictionless experience
- To gauge performance and improve conversion rates
The shift to unified commerce is a matter of time for almost every retailer. 80% of business say they’ll soon need to compete mainly on CX. This channel customer experience is set to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator.
Analyzing performance over time in different parts of your business and tracking the right metrics can help improve conversion rates and increase sales – the ultimate aim of every brand. The rules of the retail game have changed and the old scorecard no longer seems to be in play. The continuing evolution demands new metrics to measure success in an era when the simple single-channel strategy has given way to multichannel and then an omnichannel and now to a unified commerce approach.
The massive number of metrics to track and measure can be overwhelming. But all metrics are not created equal, and it’s vital to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that you must track to boost performance.
KPIs are metrics that are most relevant and valuable to your business. Common KPIs exist across industries, but each business has unique KPIs that need to be tracked and analyzed regularly to improve the product, service, or customer engagement.
Retail focuses on a range of KPIs, under four main categories:
- User experience
- Customer support and satisfaction
Compared to earlier shopping experiences, be they in-store or online, retailers today need to create a cohesive brand experience. This involves numerous aspects: point of sale, supply chain and inventory management systems, CRM, e-commerce, mobile channels, social commerce, fulfilment systems, cross-channel return systems, and others.
It was believed that an omnichannel approach could best combine all these back-end functionalities and create a seamless customer experience across channels. But the effectiveness of omnichannel performance can only be measured with linked and systematic KPIs, which encapsulate the performance of the business on all channels.
An omnichannel strategy generates massive amounts of data, which needs to be analysed to extract meaningful insights. Using updated omnichannel KPIs to measure performance and progress can help track efficiency.
From omnichannel to unified commerce
The evolution of retail has taken us from an omnichannel strategy to a unified experience, an approach that supports all kinds of commerce – stores, mobile, and web – by melding the front-end experience and back-end applications.
Unified commerce has forced retailers to rethink their idea of retail and how to deliver the best brand experience. Organizing and analysing data in a specific manner ensures efficient business operations while offering a frictionless experience – whatever the touchpoint maybe – leads to happier customers.
Traditional Retail vs Unified Commerce metrics
As consumers adopt cross-channel shopping behaviours, retailers need to align systems, people, and processes to get a unified view of stock and a unified view of the customer – this alone can drive performance across all sales channels.
The ability to align depends on how a retailer uses technology to measure and reward performance in each channel. With consumers no longer making distinctions between channels, retailers need to accurately track metrics that matter to keep growing.
It must be remembered that the pathway to unified commerce is a linear one, and needs to cross the omnichannel platform. Getting omnichannel and the related KPIs right is the first step towards a successful unified commerce platform. Skipping a step in evolution won’t lead you anywhere. While you’re at the task of creating the right metrics for your organization, it would be prudent to keep these pointers in mind:
Holistic Channel-agnostic to allow a more complete view of the organization
Inclusive All business models, retail formats, channel approaches, fulfilment methods
Value driving Incorporate all parts of the business that drive value
Operational Reflect business operations, not just financial ratios
Balanced Between growth and profitability, and focus on recent performance
As the future of retail moves from transactions to interactions, sales to connections, and monologue to dialogue, new comprehensive metrics can help retailers determine their strengths and weaknesses, and take all essential steps to go from strength to strength.
It’s an accepted fact that convergence in retail is here – and here to stay. Putting in place and staying true to a new set of relevant metrics is essential to assess drive value, assess value creation, and ensure market share acquisition.