How Retailers Embrace Unified Commerce

placeitA loyal shopper, Kate has your retail app downloaded to her mobile device.

As soon as she walks into the store, that mobile app turns into an in-store app tailored to her interests. Kate begins to receive targeted content and coupons just for shopping in-store. Kate uses her mobile app to connect to an associate for assistance. Linda, the associate, receives a notification on her associate mobile app that Kate is seeking help, and then finds her location in the store. Linda finds Kate in store and escorts her to the fitting room.

The customer-associate interaction doesn’t end here. While Kate is trying on her items, she wants another size. So, using the in-store app, she requests Linda to provide additional sizes. Linda walks the floor, picks up the size she needs, and brings it over to Kate, thus finding the right pair of jeans. As she walks out of the fitting room, she pulls out her digital coupon and checks out on the spot with Linda.

The consumer-associate interaction, personalized content and promotions, and the use of multiple devices are what we call unified commerce.

By going beyond the customer experience and integration of systems, retailers are now beginning to embrace unified commerce in and out of store. Unified commerce leverages a single commerce platform to put the customer experience first. Every experience from in-store to shopper’s mobile device is connected in real time, enabling real-time personalization.

However, unified commerce isn’t only about the front-end experience. Integrating systems and eliminating silos to perform this type of capability requires a solid strategy, planning and flawless implementation of the right technologies working together.

So if retailers are eager to embrace this model, why haven’t they done so already?

According to Boston Retail Partner’s 2014 Supply Chain Benchmark Survey, “93% of retailers intend to adopt a unified commerce model, with 39% already implementing supply chain solutions to support it.”

There’s no doubt that the right tools and technology are necessary to fully support the unified commerce model, otherwise retailers will fail to achieve maximum efficiency and profit.  Currently, retailers are struggling to find a solution to achieve success. The biggest technical challenge is to bring different types of data and platform together to create a unified solution.

Ken Morris, partner and co-founder of BRP, said, “the most important component is a middleware layer – a piece of software that connects the dots.”

While it may sound easy to piece everything together in-house, leveraging cloud based platforms will take less time to maintain and manage the back end of these experiences. According to L2, retailers using cloud-based solutions grow 12% more than those on an on-premise platform.

As retailers, you now live in a world of continuous innovation versus rebuilding shopping experiences for your customers. Gone are the days of only having a multi-channel solution that will keep your shoppers happy and satisfied both online and offline. Shoppers like Kate want a seamless, personalized experience in and out of store and retailers need knowledgeable and connected associates like Linda to deliver the right experience to their customers.

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