5 Benefits for the Customer and 5 Benefits for the Retailer
Unified commerce has gained its status as the next trend in retail due to its efficient, organized structure and the benefits it delivers for both the customer and the retailer.
By combining the sales activity conducted online with the activity of in-store point of sale transactions, the unified commerce retailer sets the foundation of one singly organized business and clears the way for faster, more efficient and accessible service for the consumer. Customers have the option to visit the retailer’s ecommerce store or nearest location with the same recognizable processes, policies, and branding they see inside their favorite neighborhood store.
A Customer Driven Shopping Experience
Retailers everywhere are moving to a unified commerce strategy as a new standard for business to serve customers in person and online. This move is driven by the customers who are developing a multi-layered approach to shopping where shoppers shift their purchasing activities between a brick-and-mortar store and the same store’s ecommerce platform. This is a trend that has been growing in recent years, fueled by the comfort level of millennials, and has grown exponentially with during the COVID-19 pandemic when shoppers looked for safe alternatives to find and receive products. In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, out of the 46,000 shoppers polled researchers found that 20% were in-store only shoppers, 7% were online only shoppers, and 73% were unified commerce shoppers who used both options.
The unified commerce retailer sets the foundation of one singly organized business and clears the way for faster, more efficient and accessible service for the consumer.
Furthermore, a Forbes study found that a growing number of shoppers check the internet before going to a physical store to purchase a product, and 82% check their phones to learn more about products and to look for deals while at the store. This leads savvy retailers to the conclusion that a selling strategy where every platform is included equally and synched with the retailer’s POS software is the best foundation for increased sales across the board.
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Unified Commerce Benefits the Customer
In the early days of online retailing, online customers searching for their favorite brands were often left with confusion when branded messages, images, and the quality of service differed online to the service they were accustomed to at their local store. Today, customers now expect to see, feel, and deal with a retail store the same way regardless of whether the business is conducted online or at a streetside store. A retailer whose selling strategy is based in the unified commerce concept can deliver on those expectations with a shopping experience that is consistent across all platforms and in all brick-and-mortar stores. This benefits the customer in several ways.
1 | Saving time and trouble
Unified commerce allows the transfer of data to happen at a faster rate, with fewer mistakes and omissions. This empowers employees with confidence when working with customers and provides accurate information for online shoppers.
2 | Putting the customer at ease
Building trust between a retailer and their customer happens at several points throughout a transaction. It begins with consistent images and messaging for in-store and online marketing that tell the customer they are at the right store. Accurate inventory counts and product information ensures the customer they will get what they are paying for, and clear and timely communication between the store and its customer will create the kind of brand loyalty that every retailer desires.
3| Preferred channel shopping
Just as every customer is unique, so are their buying habits. Some consumers prefer to go straight to the company website to make a purchase through their online account, while others may choose to purchase several products from different retailers in one transaction on Amazon’s platform. Now that social media platforms host their own marketplaces, some shoppers are attracted to the storytelling video ads featured on their favorite social media networks where they can easily share their experiences with their friends and get their opinions about the store and its product lines.
4 | A seamless shopping experience
According to a Harvard Business Review study, 73% of the buying public uses multiple sales channels to complete their buying journey. For example, they could begin their search online at a desktop computer, then drop in at their favorite store to examine the product up close before finally concluding the transaction through the store’s mobile app. Throughout the process the customer should see consistent marketing and never feel as though they have crossed over into another’s stores website.
5 | Touchless transactions
The age of social distancing may be coming to an end, but the shopping habits we’ve picked up over the last twelve months will most likely have long lasting effects. Consumers have become used to paying online and picking up their products curbside at their neighborhood store and using touchless technology and payment apps to process transaction securely and safely. They’ve set up their purchasing processes and find them a convenient and safe way to make their purchases.
Unified Commerce Benefits the Retailer
The consumer isn’t the only one to reap the rewards of unified commerce. Retailers all over the world are finding that a unified commerce strategy will empower their efforts to grow their sales online and at their brick-and-mortar stores. This is done in several ways.
1 | Real time product updates
Reliable inventory information, exact pricing and product descriptions, and order fulfillment records are only as good as their accuracy. Having a disconnected system where your inventory is kept in one database and your orders are processed through another system leads to messy accounting and a painful customer experience when things go awry.
2| Convenient exchanges and returns
When a customer comes to your store with a return or a need for an exchange, quick and friendly service assures the customer that their loyalty to your brand is more important than any one purchase. With a unified commerce strategy, your employees will be able to expedite the request quickly by accessing their purchase information and process the return in an efficient way, leaving the best possible impression on the customer.
3 | More accurate tracking of customer interactions with your brand
Having an accurate record of every interaction your employees have with your customers can be key to settling disputes and keeping your brand in good standing with shoppers. This happens automatically when communications are conducted online.
4 | Gain insight into customers’ buying habits.
The data archived through an integrated unified commerce system provides the retailer with a wealth of information about their customers’ shopping preferences. Find out what they buy, how much they spend, which channels they use, payment preferences, and who abandons their cart. Discounts, promotions, and reward programs can be tailored to target specific groups of shoppers and ultimately increase conversion rates across all your sales channels.
5 | Better employee management
Efficiency can be the difference between a profitable business and one that struggles. Unified commerce provides the oversight a retailer needs to pinpoint areas of their business that need their attention. Up to date inventory counts will tell you which products are trending, and which ones have lost their appeal. Plus, tracking the successes and challenges your employees face every day will help you find ways to streamline the fulfillment process.
Results from Unified Commerce
With an integration tool like Retail Dimensions’ RD-Ice, retailers can complete the connections that will unify their entire business This will set the stage for improved customer satisfaction and better retention rates. You’ll see your employees’ efficiency increase and be able to serve your customers better when you connect your POS software and online sales channels and create one cohesive retail business.