In today’s ecommerce, there are many great products. If you’re an ecommerce owner, we’re pretty sure you have great products that customers would be delighted to have.
However, just having great products isn’t enough. In fact, making those products easy to discover might be just as important.
To empower the right customer to find the perfect product, you need to build a great shopping experience.
Retailers now must deliver personalisation across all channels and offer an omnichannel consumer experience in order to succeed.
To operate their business more successfully, they use CRM systems, Internet of Things technology, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) among other technologies. Making different systems, apps, and solutions work together seamlessly is difficult, though.
Luckily, there's an alternative. Businesses can also choose to use only one platform to control all of their sales applications and systems, gather data, and derive useful insights from a single commerce platform. This approach is called unified commerce.
In this article, we’re explaining what unified commerce is and breaking down its advantages with the goal to help you decide whether it’s the right approach for your business.
What is Unified Commerce?
In essence, unified commerce is a single platform or piece of software that enables you to link any gap in your company. It integrates point of sale, online shopping, order processing, inventory control, customer relationship management, and many other things.
It may involve your website and mobile connections to different physical stores and marketplaces. In addition, it gives you a unified picture of all of your customers' activity, including past purchases and personal information, regardless of how they choose to connect with you.
Unified commerce represents the connection between your internal business tools and the marketing and activities you take to attract customers. This has several benefits–including better inventory management and providing a seamless customer experience as the biggest.
Omnichannel vs Unified Commerce
When you start exploring unified commerce, there’s one question that pops up: How do I choose between omnichannel and unified commerce?
Even though they are similar, the two strategies differ in some ways. Let’s break down the key differences.
System and Data Integration
In order to provide a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints, omnichannel commerce focuses on integrating different sales channels (online, in-store, mobile applications, etc.). This method involves firms using several systems for every channel, which can result in segregated data and inconsistent operations.
Unified commerce, on the other hand, takes things a step further by unifying all sales channels, customer information, and backend systems into a single, centralized platform.
This makes it simpler for businesses to offer a seamless shopping experience since they can access inventory, customer information, and order management in real-time.
To ensure that customers transition between channels without experiencing any disturbance, omnichannel commerce attempts to deliver an uniform customer experience across all channels. The customer journey may still have certain gaps or inconsistencies because of the possibility of siloed data and systems, though.
With its integrated platform, unified commerce allows a genuinely smooth and customized consumer experience. Regardless of the channel a client chooses, businesses may provide tailored suggestions, promotions, and services based on their history and preferences because to the interconnectedness of all data and systems.
As managing data from many sources and integrating multiple systems can be challenging, implementing an omnichannel approach can be challenging. This may make it difficult to maintain accuracy and consistency in inventory, pricing, and customer data across channels.
By combining all technologies and data into a single platform, unified commerce streamlines this procedure and makes it simpler to run and expand the company.
As a result, companies don't have to stress about the difficulties of connecting several systems, allowing them to more simply extend their product offerings, enter new markets, and embrace new technology.
In conclusion, unified commerce offers a more integrated, data-driven, and scalable solution by combining all technologies and data into a single platform, even though both omnichannel and unified commerce aim to create seamless shopping experiences across channels.
Unified Commerce: Key Aspects
Now, let’s see some of the key aspects that make unified commerce an effective tool for ecommerce stores.
A Unified Commerce Platform
The foundation of the whole retail operation's unified commerce is a consolidated platform. Point-of-sale (POS), inventory management, order management, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing and advertising platforms, and other systems and processes are all integrated into this platform. This enables real-time monitoring and better control over the whole retail ecosystem.
The platform is built to expand as the company expands. It can manage growing user demands, data storage needs, and transaction volumes without sacrificing performance. The platform can easily adapt when merchants grow their businesses, add new channels, or purchase other companies.
The seamless integration of various sales channels, including physical storefronts, e-commerce websites, mobile applications, social media platforms, marketplaces, and more, is a key component of unified commerce.
This makes the brand's image, messaging, and overall user impression consistent across all channels. Customers should be able to recognize and experience the same brand qualities, values, and visual aspects whether they interact with the brand in-store or online. Its reliability strengthens brand loyalty and contributes to trust-building.
The result is a consistent and connected consumer experience across all channels. Without any interruption or distractions, customers can begin a transaction on one channel and finish it on another.
Better Inventory Overview
A single, real-time picture of the inventory across all channels is one of the elements of unified commerce. This implies that customers should have precise knowledge of product availability, including in-store, online, and warehouse stock levels, wherever they purchase.
The single inventory view makes sure that you get real-time, continuous updating of inventory data. The inventory system is updated across all channels when a sale is completed, a return is handled, or new stock is received, giving customers and workers accurate and recent information.
By doing so, you eliminate problems like overselling and consumer disappointment brought on by incorrect inventory information
In unified commerce, order management refers to the smooth handling of customer orders across various channels and fulfillment sites. It includes everything related to an order, including placing, delivery, tracking, and customer service.
Based on inventory availability, accessibility to the consumer, and other established factors, the system may automatically route orders to the best fulfillment site, whether it's a warehouse, a physical shop, or a dropship provider. As a result, order processing and fulfillment are quick and effective.
Businesses could increase convenience and flexibility by offering consumers a variety of fulfillment alternatives, such as purchase online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), ship from store, or ship to store.
A unified order management system also makes it possible to track orders in real-time, allowing customers to keep track of their progress regardless of the channel they used to make them.
By giving reps an uniform picture of client orders, it also streamlines customer support. This allows them to rapidly access order data and offer assistance or fix any problems.
Personalization and Customer Data
Unified commerce uses client information from several touchpoints to get in-depth understanding of preferences, behavior, and past purchases. Retailers can create individualized experiences and niche marketing strategies thanks to this data.
Retailers can customize their offers, incentives, and suggestions to increase customer loyalty and happiness by better knowing their customers.
Consistent Customer Experience
The ultimate goal of unified commerce is to provide customers with a seamless and consistent experience across all touchpoints.
To facilitate smooth interactions for customers, unified commerce connects several systems and procedures. The experience should be seamless and consistent whether a customer starts a purchase in-store, finishes it online, or chooses to use click-and-collect services.
This covers uniform product details, costs, promotions, and suggestions made just for you across all channels.
Customers should have seamless access to switching between channels, maintaining their shopping cart, seeing their purchase history, and using loyalty benefits. The objective is to reduce friction and offer a consistent experience that makes it easy for customers to interact with the business.
Better Analytics for Informed Decisions
For the purpose of tracking and evaluating channel performance, unified commerce depends on powerful analytics and reporting tools. It offers information on sales, stock levels, consumer behavior, and other important indicators.
Retailers may use these insights to make data-driven choices, spot trends, streamline processes, and promote business development.
The Advantages of Delivering Unified Customer Experiences
By seamlessly integrating channels and providing a consistent and cohesive experience, retailers can:
Bigger customer satisfaction
Customers will always receive consistent message, branding, and service thanks to unified customer experiences. Consistency fosters trust, lessens friction, and improves general client pleasure.
Regardless of the channel they select, customers will have smooth interactions, get correct product information, and have tailored experiences.
Customers who are happy with a product or service are more inclined to recommend it to others, increasing customer retention and good word-of-mouth recommendations.
More efficient working
Many operational procedures are streamlined and optimized through unified commerce, which increases efficiency. Retailers can decrease stockouts, shorten delivery times, and improve overall operational performance by integrating inventory management, order fulfillment, and customer support across channels.
Retailers may distribute stock more effectively and avoid overselling and stock inconsistencies by using a single view of their inventory. Its effectiveness results in lower costs, faster inventory turnover, and better resource management.
Smart analytics for better customer experience
Retailers may gain useful information and insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns by adopting unified customer experiences.
Retailers may understand their consumers better and adjust their strategy by utilizing data analytics and segmentation tools. This will fuel their marketing efforts, hone their product offers, and give more relevant and tailored experiences thanks to these information.
Bigger competitive advantage
Retailers can exceed competitors that find it difficult to provide a consistent and integrated experience by using unified commerce to fulfill customer expectations and desires.
This will help them attract current customers, increase the satisfaction of their existing customers, and help them establish themselves as industry leaders by setting themselves apart in this way.
Unified commerce becomes a strategic essential for ecommerce businesses at a time when customers want frictionless experiences and individualized engagement. Retailers get the power to meet and exceed customer expectations by adopting this strategy, offering a seamless experience across channels, and creating enduring customer connections.
This will help them stand out in a crowded market and establish themselves as leaders in their niche by offering consistent, customized, and easy experiences to customers.