What is unified commerce and how does it give you an edge over competition?
It’s no secret that customer experience is becoming a key brand differentiator, over price and product. But as retailers increase their selling channels to boost sales, the challenge of creating a consistently enjoyable experience becomes greater.
"89% of businesses may soon expect to compete mainly on customer experience." – Gartner report
Retailers have long recognized the need for a seamless customer experience, exploring various ways to unify the shopping experience across the different channels.
1.Unified commerce vs. omnichannel vs. multichannel
From the days of multichannel, things have evolved thanks to the technology, which has helped refine the shopping experience. What are the differences and what have changed?
The use of multiple channels such as website, social media, apps and emails, to attract shoppers. Which means if you have an online store with a Facebook page, you’re delivering a multichannel experience. The problem with multichannel is the inconsistencies across the channels – which can lead to shopper confusion, drop-offs and lost potential income.
This solves the problem of inconsistency by delivering the same look and feel, as well as messaging, across channels and devices. But because each platform needs to be managed separately via its own interface, creating and delivering the experience is expensive and difficult.
"73% of retailers plan to have a unified commerce platform implemented by the end of 2019." – Boston Retail Partners report
One single platform to manage all customer communications, allowing retailers to create one consistent experience across channels and devices – from customer interface, right through to backend technology. Which means instead of having multiple interfaces, you now need to manage only one platform – simplifying and unifying the shopping and buying experience.
This sounds great, but how can retailers achieve this?
2. Think like your shoppers
Shoppers don’t think in channels, and you probably shouldn’t think of your selling channels as individual entities either. Ecommerce, mobile and POS payments are all part of your shoppers’ experience with your brand. Plus, interaction with your brand will likely start even before the shopper reaches the store.
For example, she may discover your brand on WeChat, Instagram or other social media while checking out a KOL’s (key opinion leader) or influencer’s post. After a couple of clicks, she can either buy the item on her mobile or desktop or go to the store to get it.
Managing all channels via one platform makes it easy to track shoppers across multiple touch points and recognize them, so they don’t have to re-enter payment details every time and can check out with a single click. This can be streamlined further if you support easy payment methods such as WeChat Pay or payments via Facebook messenger, which lets shoppers check out without leaving the app environment. In this way, you are closing the sale at the moment the shopper decides to purchase – no redirects, no long payment forms, just instant satisfaction.
3. More delivery options = better shopping experience
As you can see from the shopper journey above, unified commerce gives rise to more delivery options. Whether it’s shopping online and collecting in stores, buying and collecting in stores, returning in store or other shopping possibilities, you are opening up even more delivery options to your shoppers. All of which makes for a more enjoyable experience however they choose to shop.
By centralizing your payments, it is easy to support cross-channel shopper journeys, which put your shopper in the driving seat of her experience. In this way, you fit in with her agenda, not the other way around.
4. Let customers pay the way they want
Unifying the experience also places the shoppers in the center, putting their preferences first including their preferred methods of payment.
Giving shoppers the payment method they expect not only improves the shopping experience but also the bottom lines of businesses. For example, Alipay, WeChat Pay and Union Pay for Chinese shoppers, Kombini and JCB payment for Japanese shoppers, cash-based vouchers for Indonesian shoppers, and online banking methods for European shoppers.
Our data has shown that by implementing local payment methods, many companies saw a revenue uplift of about 7%. Cambridge Satchel Company saw checkout conversions grow by 5% after implementing Alipay for Chinese shoppers.
It is crucial, therefore, to work with a payments partner capable of supporting these methods as you expand. Adyen not only lets you offer all payment methods with a single integration, you can track how each is performing in the same interface with unified reporting.
5. Endless aisles can be a reality
As you may already realize, it’s hard to keep track of your inventory if your system is a bunch of silos – and can land you in potentially embarrassing situations where orders can’t be fulfilled because of overselling.
Unified commerce eliminates that problem as it offers supply chain integration and cross-channel inventory availability, giving you greater visibility of your stock. This lets you create an endless aisles experience where you may be able to ship from the supplier to the shopper without expanding your inventory or losing valuable floor space to storage.
Not only will this increase customer satisfaction, you won’t be losing a sale to competition. Plus, companies have found endless aisles to increase sales by up to 14% – giving retailers more benefits if their payments partner can connect their online and offline sales channels in a single system.