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The complete guide to unified commerce

Discover everything about unified commerce and how it helps businesses create flexible cross-channel experiences.

March 21, 2024
 ·  8 minutes

Unified commerce is omnichannel payment experiences at the next level. Pushed by ever changing consumer preferences and expectations, offering flexible omnichannel experiences is no longer enough. Businesses need to stay ahead of trends and competition and give their customers enhanced experiences.  Whether it’s buying a product in store or ordering at a restaurant, customers want cross-channel experiences consisting of a flexible mix between digital and physical. Some businesses have set a new standard. This standard that consumers have come to expect is crucial if you want to provide a consistent experience to customers, wherever they are. Businesses need a deep understanding of their customers to offer experiences that exceed expectations. To get this understanding, they need to connect every payment, channel, and operation in a single platform. This allows them to activate cross-channel customer insights,  provide customers flexible experiences, and drive deeper engagement with customers to build loyalty.  This article will guide you through the world of unified commerce and provide all the information you need to gain a deeper understanding of your customers and offer them the experience they want. In this article, you'll discover:

  • What is unified commerce?

  • Omnichannel vs unified commerce

  • Advantages of unified commerce

  • How does unified commerce work?

  • Who is unified commerce for?

  • Unified commerce examples

  • Adyen’s Unified Commerce solution

What is unified commerce?

Unified commerce is one step up from omnichannel. With unified commerce, data from all your channels and systems feed into one centralized platform for a more unified view of your stock, customers, and payments. This gives you better insights which ultimately leads to better decisions.

Omnichannel vs unified commerce: what’s the difference?

Omnichannel means connecting all your customer-facing channels so shopper journeys can flow between channels. By connecting different channels, shoppers can start their journey on one channel and finish on another. For instance, buy a product online and return it in store. This creates more personalized, tailored experiences that stretch across channels.  Omnichannel businesses are already delivering great cross-channel experiences to their customers, but systems behind the scenes are often unconnected. The main difference between omnichannel and unified commerce, is that unified commerce also integrates all customer-facing and backend systems.  With unified commerce, the data from all channels feed into one platform, making it easier to spot your customer’s needs and embrace emerging technologies that help you scale your business quickly.

Advantages of unified commerce

With a unified commerce solution, all data flows into one system. This allows businesses to increase efficiency and enhance the experiences for their customers. 

These are the main things businesses can accomplish by taking a unified approach. 

Increase customer flexibility

Consumer behavior has undergone a seismic shift in recent years. Traditionally, shopping meant going to a store, finding the product you’re looking for, and paying at the cash register. 

Even before the pandemic, technology had changed traditional shopping experiences tremendously. We were already shopping on our phones, and an item being out of stock was no longer the end of the story. Brands had already started to embrace flexible experiences that span online and offline channels to provide a better experience. 

With unified commerce, businesses can offer flexible cross-channel experiences that allow customers to shop on one channel and pick up on another. Better insights allow businesses to offer payment innovations such as endless aisles, references refunds, click and collect, self-checkout kiosks, and preferred payment methods.

Another example of how brands are creating flexible experiences is through mobile point-of-sales terminals (mPOS). Mobile terminals let employees accept payments in-store the moment their customers are ready to buy, reducing queues and the risk of customers abandoning their purchase.

New payment methods are emerging that facilitate cross-channel experiences, such as pay-by-link. With pay-by-link, you can let customers pay when they are ready using a secure payment link. You send a link, your customer pays, and you get paid. This allows you to make any channel a checkout, whether it’s on the phone, through email, or even on social media.

Improve customer loyalty

A key driver of loyalty is loyalty programs. Leveraging them to their fullest potential can be difficult if you can’t recognize your customers across channels. One solution is to connect your loyalty program to your customer’s payment method, which can only be achieved if your payment data is connected.

With unified commerce, it’s easy to track customer behavior and assign loyalty points, whether they’re buying online in Singapore or in a store in New York. With tokenization, a unique shopper reference number is attributed to the payment card. This is captured during an initial purchase and used to connect subsequent purchases to the same customer.

Discover more ways to drive customer loyalty with unified commerce.

Connect data to power growth

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that businesses have to be able to respond and pivot fast. It’s a lot harder to be agile if your operations are scattered across multiple systems and channels. Each one needs updating in turn, and older systems might not be compatible with the changes.

Streamline operations  

Offering premium payments online and in-person requires you to have the right expertise for each channel across regions. Finding a payments platform that can do both is difficult since most rely on technology from third parties. And multiple providers means multiple points of failure. 

With a unified setup, everything is connected in one solution. This makes it easier to streamline operations. If your payments are centralized, expanding to another sales channel is much easier. 

By streamlining operations, you free up time for your employees to focus on what’s important instead of having to continuously troubleshoot. It also makes financial reconciliation easier thanks to consolidated reporting. Since everything is connected in the backend, it’s easy to reconcile payments, regardless of where they were made. Discover more about how unified commerce can streamline your operations.

How does unified commerce work?

The chart below illustrates Adyen’s approach to unified commerce. Essentially it’s a series of building blocks that can be mixed and matched to create smooth experiences across different touchpoints.

The graph consists of three sections:

  • Order: On what channel a customer places their order. This could be at home, on the move, or in-person.

  • Receive: Where the good or service comes from or is returned to. This could be a store, a warehouse, or a combination of the two.

  • Pay: How a payment is done. This could be online, in-app, in-store, or via a payment link shared by text or email.

Unified commerce allows consumers order a coffee on the app, pay through the app, and then pick it up in person in one effortless experience. 

Unified commerce also enables endless aisles. This is when a product isn’t available in store but the customer can order the product in store and have it delivered to their home, which is only possible when systems and inventory are connected.

Who is unified commerce for?

Unified commerce is valuable for any business that wants to streamline operations and provide customers with cross-channel experiences. Let’s have a look at how unified commerce works for different industries. 

Unified commerce retail

If you’re in retail, unified commerce can take your customer experience to the next level so that you can deliver tailored retail experiences. You can combine a mix of digital and physical while keeping convenience and simplicity central at point of payment. A key aspect of unified commerce in retail is being able to recognize your consumers across channels and tailoring the experience according to their preferences. 

Discover more about how retailers can benefit from unified commerce.

Hospitality five-star experiences 

Hospitality businesses often have separate backend systems and payment providers for each payment channel. This is a significant problem for their payment setups as while guests engage with the hotel on premise and through mobile apps, the payment journeys remain separate and feed into disconnected systems. This often leads to operational hassle, costs, and lost insights for the business, and inconsistent brand experiences for guests.

By unifying all systems into a single platform, hotels can provide their guests with five-star experiences, with data from different departments and properties flowing into one place. This makes it easier to add new channels and connect them to all their payment systems.

Discover more about hospitality businesses can benefit from unified commerce

Food and beverage

From bars and pubs to quick service and delivery, the food and beverage (F&B) industry is using unified commerce to enhance the experience for their customers. Businesses take a unified approach to get a better understanding of their customers so that they can offer them the experience they want, whether it’s busting queues through table service or offering them their preferred payment method.

Unified commerce examples

Let’s have a look at how businesses across different industries have succeeded with this.


As customer preferences were changing, HUGO BOSS strived to deliver a seamless shopping experience while ensuring robust security measures across all sales channels.

HUGO BOSS solved this challenge by creating more flexibility in terms of payment options, secure online payments with Visa Network Tokens and 3D Secure, and shopping experiences everywhere through pay-by-link.

Learn how HUGO BOSS is setting a new standard for shopping experiences

B&B Hotels

B&B Hotels wanted to grow their business and expand to new markets without compromising on guest experience. 

To accomplish this, they first needed a payment partner that could connect all their systems in one platform. With Unified Commerce, they were able to centralize all their systems in one platform and get a unified understanding of their guests. This allowed them to identify their guests’ preferences, recognize them across channels and locations, and offer personalized payment experiences.

Discover how B&B Hotels are driving business growth through payments

On Running

On Running were struggling to understand their customer preferences in the Japanese market. With Adyen’s Unified Commerce solution, On was able to fully integrate their online and offline channels via one platform, delivering a forward-thinking customer journey unique to Japan.

Access more insights into how On is maximizing multi-channel retail potential in Tokyo


In a fast-paced industry where efficiency is paramount, quick-service restaurants (QSRs) such as Domino’s require a payments platform to streamline operations and adapt to evolving customer needs.

By integrating both online and in-store payments into a unified platform, Domino’s can offer a level of service that goes beyond omnichannel sales. This enhancement extends to operational efficiency, decision-making processes, customer loyalty, and staff empowerment.

Understand how Domino’s perfected operational agility with unified commerce.

Adyen’s Unified Commerce solution

Many businesses looking to adopt a unified approach are held back by a technology setup that relies on multiple legacy systems, patched together without having the entire customer experience in mind. This results in a lot of inefficiency, lost revenue, and a compromised customer experience.

Offering omnichannel payments while managing multiple, semi-integrated solutions is complex, expensive, and doesn’t allow for seamless unified customer journeys.

Adyen's Unified Commerce payment solution enables omnichannel retailers to offer connected shopping experiences and improve operational efficiency with a robust and dependable platform. 

Rather than working with multiple providers, we offer one platform that connects all your channels and operations. This allows you to get deeper insights into your customers so that you can provide them with flexible cross-channel experiences.

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