Do you know how many sales you’ve missed out on because your customers became frustrated and ditched their cart? A recent report claims that ecommerce businesses lose out on as much as $3.3 trillion globally as a result of abandoned sales.
Enter unified commerce–not just another buzzword, but a technology approach that can help you grow sales exponentially by tightly linking many aspects of digital commerce.
Before we can dissect unified commerce, let’s take a step back.
At the dawn of ecommerce, which according to the New York Times was sometime in August of 1994 with the sale between two friends of a Sting CD, most retailers have viewed their technology stack as an afterthought. But this approach to digital commerce is now less efficient because of the constant updates in the technology components and marketing trends that make up a modern-day digital commerce experience.
Consumers today expect a single, seamless commerce experience when interacting with a brand. This requires companies to manage the lifecycles of their customers, tech stacks, and all related components in an equally seamless manner.
Choosing a unified commerce experience is one way to meet the expectations of modern buyers. Whether a customer stops by a physical location to make a purchase or browses the website at 1:00 am, your team needs the capability to interact, track, manage, and close the sale without missing a beat or breaking the customer experience.
Commerce Occurs Everywhere
According to eMarketer, people are shopping digitally more than ever before, with 83% of the U.S. population choosing to shop online. New behaviors are forming as well, with 68% of consumers saying that they will continue to use curbside pickup post-pandemic, per Global Data Retail.
And it’s not just traditional ecommerce that is central to this digital experience shift: eMarketer expects 100 million people to have bought something from social channels by 2023.
From TikTok to websites to curbside pickup, every channel is now a storefront and modern commerce takes place everywhere.
So, What is Unified Commerce?
Unified commerce consolidates your back-end systems with your customer-facing channels through a single platform. It’s a set of processes, solutions, and systems that together deliver a seamless and consistent customer experience (B2C, D2C, or B2B).
Unified commerce allows for a “unified view” of customer interactions, products and services, and internal systems. With a “consolidated source of truth,” unified commerce provides a bird’s eye view of your entire business that lets you collect relevant data insights and apply them in a more consistent fashion. These insights allow you to drive your business accordingly and meet the needs of your customers better.
Related Reading: Seamless Customer Experience: Why it Matters and How to Deliver
But Wait, isn’t That Omnichannel?
While unified commerce certainly sounds like omnichannel commerce, there are some key differences. Namely, omnichannel aims to deliver a seamless experience across all touchpoints and channels to customers by connecting mostly front-end systems to gain alignment and multichannel expansion. Unified commerce connects all the components into a unified platform. And although unified platforms are a result of acquisitions of the provider, they are mature enough today to have tightly coupled roadmaps and databases.
The Four Key Areas of Unified Commerce
Unified commerce enables your business to stay flexible to changes and growth as a result of a centralized platform that’s connected to customer-facing and back-end systems. This approach helps you save time and money spent managing different systems and providers, boosts operational efficiency, and allows for easy data collection across channels.
With the freedom to adapt and scale at will, the (ecommerce) world becomes your oyster. Expand your business to new channels and markets, and use the latest features and functionality to support your growth.
By connecting all channels to a single platform, you receive numerous benefits such as:
- Easier to fulfill cross-channel orders
- Increased security as you identify customers across channels
- Easier managing a central payment system instead of different payment systems spread across multiple channels
- Improved data capture opportunities
Product and Service Consistency
A centralized platform allows shoppers to receive consistent messaging about your products and services throughout your physical stores and various digital channels. Customers will be able to see what’s in stock online and in stores and meet employees who have all the information they need at their fingertips to make the sale.
Unified commerce enables you to safely collect all customer interactions in one location, and easily identify consumers across touchpoints. With a better understanding of your customer behavior, you can meet the needs of shoppers with the fast, reliable, and tailored experience they expect.
Allow your customers to log in to their account from any channel and use their saved payment details to quickly checkout. Make sure your in-store staff knows all about their purchase when they stop by your store to exchange their purchase. Unified commerce streamlines your business for a truly harmonized retail experience.
An Example of Unified Commerce in Action
A modern shopper may interact with American Eagle Outfitters, a major American clothing retailer, across multiple channels before buying a pair of jeans.
Their user journey may start by seeing an Instagram post by American Eagle featuring a 10% discount code that piques their interest. The shopper might jump on the website and use the discount code to purchase a pair of jeans. From there, the shopper expects to track their purchase all the way to the home delivery.
Once the shopper receives their new denim, they try on the jeans. Alas, the shopper miscalculated the size and immediately looks into American Eagle’s return and exchange policies. Noting that the store near them allows in-store returns, the shopper swings by on their way home from work instead of spending time in line at the post office.
When the shopper arrives, an employee is ready to assist, with a pair of jeans in the right size and model. Maybe the employee points out a new line of casual tees that just arrived that would pair perfectly with the new pair of jeans. The customer snags a few shirts along with the jeans and heads out the door.
This quick example illustrates how retailers must consider any unified commerce strategy holistically, realizing that commerce happens everywhere.
Your Competitors Are Investing in Unified Commerce
Many businesses birthed online, such as Amazon, find ways to tie together the retail experience. Amazon now greets online shoppers with livestream ecommerce.
Customers with bulky returns can easily drop off the return at a conveniently located Kohl’s. Grab your phone and browse Amazon’s app at 1:00 am and choose to “buy now” and bypass the entire cart checkout experience. Swing by WholeFoods on your way home and get a discount on your groceries with a Prime membership.
Retailers must keep up with the businesses currently leading in this space by aiming for a unified commerce approach.
Vaimo Offers Expertise and a Data-Backed Strategy
For retailers looking to design a more robust and customer-focused unified commerce strategy, Vaimo is here to assist. We offer experience in development, with teams that can help with everything from platform development to building a data-backed strategy.
Our team has a passion for creating a compelling digital experience that aligns with your business goals. We can help you explore unified platform solutions that are best for your team’s needs and your customer’s expectations.