7 min read
The next generation of retail is unified commerce. Here's why.
Retail is in the middle of another seismic shift in the name of unified commerce. A survey conducted by Boston Retail Partners unveiled that 81% percent of North America’s top 500 retailers will deploy a unified commerce platform by 2020 and that 28% percent of retailers have already invested in one to date.
Disruption is no stranger to retailers but technology has hastened the pace. It seems like yesterday you had to digitize your business. Then, you had to harness a mobile-first approach. Now, you’re needing to figure out unified commerce. The good news is that it’s not as complex as you may think. In fact, the leading benefit for adopting unified commerce is only needing to integrate into one, single connection which opens up a world (literally) of possibilities for your business.
We are helping globally-minded businesses like yours lead in the next generation of commerce, giving us a unique perspective on this newly-chartered territory. Our unified commerce platform is architected to help companies expand worldwide with the support of our local-market expertise in 58 countries, deploy technology easily with one seamless integration and grow their revenue across commerce channels.
What is Unified Commerce?
Unified commerce is the result of the dramatic rise of channels where your customers can transact with your brand wherever, whenever and however they prefer. It prioritizes the customer experience first and leverages a single commerce platform to deliver a seamless shopping experience.
We know from Gartner’s research, “Transforming from Multichannel to Unified Retail Commerce,” that unified commerce “provides a customer-centric experience, based on how customers approach shopping, with no limitations by channel.”
You may think this sounds a lot like omnichannel retail but there’s a key difference: the technology that powers a customer-first experience. Ken Morris of eMarketer describes the difference, “In omnichannel, you have multiple channels, but you don’t have one piece of software, one version of the truth. In the unified commerce world, it’s all connected in real time.”
Simply put, a unified commerce platform is better equipped to handle your customer’s shopping behaviors and preferences in commerce today. The path to purchase is much more complex than ever before. For example, your customers are finding what they need on a mobile device, then going to their desktop to complete the purchase online and returning it in the physical store. This example is just one of the many buying journeys that happens today.
To compete and stay relevant, you need to meet your customers’ expectations at every point and ease, not stagnate, their buying journey.This infographic by Webloyalty and Conlumnio details “the new retail purchasing pathway” and cites how the explosion of commerce channels have significantly impacted the number of touchpoints customers make before completing a purchase.
Until unified commerce came along, you had to manage these interactions and transactions in silos - one point-of-sale system for in-store, one for online, one for mobile and so on. It’s been a clunky and manual solution that has been patchworked together because the increase in commerce channels had outpaced a payments technology to bring them all together. Unified commerce simplifies the complexity of managing all of this while also making a substantial impact on your bottom line.
The Power of One
A unified commerce approach streamlines what had previously been disjointed into one consolidated integration. It offers one connection to global commerce possibilities, one backend to intelligent reporting and analytics and one cohesive picture of your customers’ purchasing behaviors. As a result, you will become smarter at delivering a seamless shopping experience across all channels which will increase ROI for your organization. A unified commerce platform enables you to do all this and so much more.
As a result, you will become smarter at delivering a seamless shopping experience across all channels which will increase ROI for your organization.
The payment landscape cross-border makes global expansion challenging. Every market has its own compliance and regulation standards, its own currencies and payment methods to enable, language considerations to build into the checkout experience and the list goes on.
With 180 currencies worldwide, not counting the expanding list of alternative payment methods like Alipay and WeChat Pay, the complexity is enormous. A global unified commerce solution makes all of this so much easier. It becomes a flip-the-switch-on scenario when you’re ready to expand into a new market rather than a disjointed process that could take months, even years to finalize. Not to mention having to increase staff across a number of commerce channels to accommodate an effort of this rigor.
The unified commerce platform at Global Payments can plug you into new markets efficiently because we have already done the legwork for you and have the local market expertise you need to expand worldwide rapidly.
A powerful unified commerce platform takes on what was being handled previously by a handful of different providers, resulting in lower fees across the board. This may include a reduction in:
- Cross-border fees
- Interchange fees
- Regulatory fees
- Service fees
- Compliance fees
- Dispute fees
Because the payment experience is managed by one rather than many providers, you are also apt to realize higher authorization rates, faster settlement and a decrease in transactions flagged as fraud.
Along with siloed commerce channels comes siloed data leaving you in a vulnerable position in a time where enabling a customer-first experience is no longer the gold standard but the industry standard.
Gartner Analyst Robert Hetu spoke to the need for a sea change in this area when he said in Gartner’s forecast for real-time in-store pricing that “retailers must focus on enabling technologies such as a unified retail commerce platform, which uses centralized data for inventory, pricing, loyalty and other information to facilitate a continuous and cohesive experience.”
A unified commerce platform rectifies this problem and brings all your customer data into one centralized place, equipping you with analytics to make smarter business moves. Some of the better insights you can derive with centralized customer information include:
- Tracking inventory in real-time across all channels to ensure you’re communicating the availability of your products accurately.
- Making more personalized online, in-store and mobile buying suggestions based on purchase history and browsing behavior.
- Offering more convenient buying and delivery options.
- Delivering personalized marketing to a buyer at the right time in the right place.
- Creating loyalty programs that your customers actually value.
The retailers that have adopted unified commerce are enjoying a simpler way to deliver omnichannel retail experiences to their customers while also benefiting from easier global expansion and improved operational efficiency. That’s why the vast majority of retailers will move in this direction by the end of next year.
It’s time to think unified.
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