Gartner predicts that by 2022, organizations with multiple digital commerce go-to-market strategies will see a 30% increase in sales.

Let’s take a brief look at the three most popular digital commerce strategies among retailers through businessman John’s journey from owning a traditional standalone store to building a multimillion-dollar unified commerce retail empire.

John is no ordinary shoemaker: he is a fourth-generation owner of a beloved shoe store. Building brand credibility and ensuring quality over the years, his forefathers had successfully established themselves as a place in the market. A couple of decades ago, John’s customers were happy to visit his four-storey retail store in the bustling shopping district, try on a few different pairs, and finally go home happy with their purchase.

However, with time, his customers’ expectations evolved. They had a taste of online shopping experience and insisted that John too set up an e-commerce site from which they could easily order shoes. The website was shortly followed by a mobile app thanks to the sudden rise in the use of smartphones. Thus, John’s shoe business went from being a single-channel store to a multichannel retail business.

Digital transformation in retail has goaded business owners like John to look for a quick transition from physical stores to online ones. Or, at least, flirt with a judicious mix of both. This meant that most simply built an e-commerce website and mobile app in their journey to becoming a multichannel retail business. But, multichannel retail comes with its own set of limitations, giving birth to the comparatively better omnichannel retail, and, finally, culminating in the far superior unified commerce.

Sounds confusing? Let’s go back to John.

With his business growing steadily thanks to the multiple avenues of sale, John was then in need of technology that enabled him to efficiently deal with order management, inventory management, and customer management systems.

Just as he thought that his business was safe, John quickly learnt the terrible drawbacks of having just a digital presence and different systems and point of sale (PoS), which—while performing fabulously—were all in silos. Without a cohesive approach, they proved to be of much lesser value to John’s business. After much research, he decided to shift to omnichannel retail. The customer-centric omnichannel commerce was able to successfully bridge the gap between physical retail and digital channels and provide a retail experience like never before.

Clearly, John was becoming smarter at this game. He soon caught on that omnichannel retail too needed upgrades to suit his business needs better. He could see the real need to scale up the platform to provide a newer and better user experience. John longed for real-time inventory visibility with flexible allocation of products for different channels. However, such a smooth retail experience was beyond omnichannel retail. Thus, with great courage, he took the leap to adopt the seamless, well-oiled engine called unified commerce.

A typical large-scale retail business has a brick-and-mortar store, a website, a mobile app, and order, inventory, warehouse, and customer management systems. Unified commerce ensures that all systems of a retail business are working coherently and in sync with each other by eliminating the need for human intervention and automatically updating real-time data in the systems.

The retail mantra for the new decade is “shop without limitations”. Digital customers are looking for an experience and the ability to truly savour the various aspects and features a retailer has to offer before making the actual purchase. This gives birth to the age of retail customer experience. Newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), virtual reality (VR) have all combined to enhance the user experience, allowing room for innovation in the retail space.

Some features that retailers must take seriously need to stand apart include,

  • Virtual try-on, which aim at 100% customer satisfaction and reduce the chances of returns and refunds.
  • Augmented reality (AR) apps, which have become a huge hit, especially for home essential products such as furniture and home decor. AR apps allow the customers to experience a product in their own space before they buy it.
  • Apps that enhance the in-store shopping experience. Customers can now check the reviews and ratings for a product by simply scanning the barcode through their smartphones and make an educated purchase.
  • AI-enabled smart apps that personalize search results leading to an increase in sales as digital shoppers don’t want to spend a lot of time browsing for products

Enabling such cutting-edge features, unified commerce leverages the existing omnichannel features and builds on them to create a mature and more evolved and futuristic common platform that seamlessly integrates all channels and departments of the business. Talk to us today to see how you can start the digital transformation journey for your retail business.

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Shifali Dumpala

Shifali is a content writer and has a passion for exploring technologies that impact everyday life. She majorly focuses on retail domain and handles various kinds of marketing content including white papers.