Omnichannel is so last season. Unified commerce is hip, and it will give retailers – especially the smaller ones – a fighting chance. Read on to dwell deeper into the wonderful world of unified commerce.
Omnichannel used to be giving retailers an edge…
Omnichannel, by definition, is a multichannel approach to sales that aim to offer customers an integrated shopping experience. In essence, customers are enabled to shop anywhere by any means – seamlessly. They can visit a physical shop or online via a desktop or mobile device – or a telephone if they want to… and the whole experience would be seamless.
Now people tend to misunderstood omnichannel as multichannel; both are different worlds. Simply put, all omnichannel customer experiences will use multichannel approach, but not all multichannel customer experiences are omnichannel. In other words, if your retail store engages customers via mobile marketing, online shopping and in social media, but those are not working well together, your campaign is considered as multichannel, but not omnichannel. Got it?
Omnichannel seems like a great idea, but there’s one caveat: Managing all of those requires businesses to invest in considerable resources. Running a website, social media campaign, mobile marketing on the front-end, and order management, order fulfillment and POS system on the back-end – and try to orchestrate those seamlessly for the sake of customer experiences cost a lot of time, and obviously money.
Small retailers will be stuck at multichannel and won’t be able to offer omnichannel experience to customers effectively. If only they have the resources…
So, how retailers with a limited budget can compete with the big guys? One of the ways is through unified commerce experience.
Unified commerce for the win
Ken Morris, partner and co-founder of Boston Retail Partners (BRP) says that unified commerce experience will be the way to go in the future – thanks to the cloud technology.
The cloud – known for offering flexibility and access to technology at a fraction of non-cloud tech adoption costs – has made unified commerce possible (read: affordable.)
But what is unified commerce anyway? In short, it’s omnichannel experiences offered as a consolidated, real-time solution via a single, centralized platform.
So, instead of taking the extra miles trying to integrate different technologies for your customers, you can use a platform that lets you manage everything from sales to order fulfillment.
Here’s an overview on unified commerce – in an infographic published by Mozu:
It’s safe to conclude that the critical success factor to make unified commerce works lies in the middleware.
Now, you might assume that your biggest task should be in choosing the right middleware. You’re not wrong, but you need to see the scale of the issue here: Although the middleware is important, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath is the real barrier to unified commerce implementation. What is it?
Morris says that the biggest barrier could be the fact that retailers have made an enormous amount of investment in the technology that they currently have – which may be in the 7 or 8 figure. It’s only logical to be reluctant.
Perhaps that’s the reason why migrating to unified commerce platform is one of the goals in a the five-year plan of most retailers (78 percent of them, according to a study.)
Retailers, big and small, have set their eyes on unified commerce, given the opportunities to excite and delight customers by enhancing their shopping experiences. There are still some roadblocks ahead, but as the necessary tech matures, the commerce tech adoption would become a less painful experience.
Now over to you – are you a retailer? If so, would you consider in adopting unified commerce? Please share your thoughts with us!