4 key capabilities enabled by unified commerce

Dec 06, 2023

Key takeaways

Implementing unified commerce enables retailers to unlock significant value  

There are four stages involved in adopting unified commerce

Start by building a solid foundation and then adding capabilities 

Business applications Retail Microsoft

To provide a positive customer experience and unlock value, retailers need to move toward unified commerce. Retailers should prioritize which unified commerce capabilities to adopt first based on their potential impact. In this article, we have identified four stages of adoption to help retailers start with a solid foundation and gradually add capabilities. 

Stage 1: Understand your customers

To achieve unified commerce, your company needs a complete picture of your customer. That starts with establishing the ability to collect and organize customer information. This data will drive a better understanding of the lifecycle, segments and journeys of your customers.

As your understanding of your customers grows, you can improve personal interactions and deliver the type of experiences that your customers expect and want. Orienting your operations around them can result in higher conversion rates, increased customer spend and greater customer lifetime value.

Stage 2: Increase service levels

Unified commerce provides your company with the ability to ship from your stores and partially align your online and store payments. Shipping from store allows you to benefit from a higher fulfillment rate without an increase in inventory.

Moreover, aligning online and in-store payment capabilities—such as a shared token vault—allows your customers to create transactions in one channel and complete them in another. This can reduce shipping times and costs, improve service levels of inventory and lead to greater opportunities for your customers to interact with local stores.

Stage 3: Remove friction from the customer experience

Look for ways to make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with your company. Start with real-time inventory visibility across channels. This visibility will increase store traffic and lead to higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Next, enable online returns in-store and allow customers to buy online and pick up from a store. This is operationally challenging but can greatly improve customer satisfaction and loyalty if done correctly. 

Last, expand your channels of customer communication. Along with phone and email, consider offering instant messaging, text and chat. Online chat is especially valuable given the increasing ability of bots to interact with customers and quickly provide information.

Stage 4: Fully merge channel interactions

This final stage may require rethinking how your company’s systems interact with each other. Instead of an interface process where data is moved between systems on a schedule, consider real-time API-driven interactions. Having this capability can reduce operational costs, such as the expensive cost of maintaining product information across channels.

Using APIs, retailers can move away from lowest capabilities interface strategies. For instance, using a pricing and promotion API can simplify pricing and promotion management and provide capabilities to other channels that they previously didn’t enjoy.

What happens next?

Take the time to establish a roadmap that works for your organization. For help with preparing a custom unified commerce roadmap for your organization, contact us below. If you would like to understand the business case for enabling these capabilities, please ask about our business value assessment based on RSM’s unified commerce ROI calculator.  

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