A few years back, m-commerce traffic surpassed desktop traffic and since then, we've been sprinting toward total mobilization. What we've failed to recognize are the residual effects that such one-dimensional thinking can have on a multichannel network of commerce.
The result: system dissonance and an intercommunication deficit that has created a giant gap between merchant and consumer. Merchants now have the technology to transition from desktop to mobile, but the dialogue between the technologies is rudimentary, making for a less than ideal user experience (UX).
The global marketplace invents and abandons trends more rapidly than the seasons change, but one trend has developed into a marketplace imperative: unified commerce.
In theory, unified commerce is the cure-all to the disharmonious IT infrastructure that is plaguing retailers and offers merchants assurance that their business will come out on top.
UX That's Out Of This World
In this era of global commerce, merchants were offered two options: raise the quality of their products to meet a new standard or accept defeat.
Consumers expect quality and they expect it at the right price. In recognizing this, merchants began closing the gaps between them and their competitors. Because brand distinctions inevitably dissipate as merchants recognize their shortcomings and take the necessary steps to eliminate them to meet the brand leader of their particular market segment.
As the brand distinctions dissipate within a heightened standard, consumer loyalty requires more than a reasonable price or a high-quality product. Consumers want an experience that evolves with their needs and demands.
Chetu defines unified commerce as: a centralized system of internal and consumer-facing software platforms seamlessly integrated across mobile, web, desktop, and POS. Unified commerce is a state of interconnectivity between all brand channels, a way to navigate the paradox that exists in providing consistent, yet personalized service. Instituting a unified commerce model requires end-to-end integration services and a little bit of luck, because although it's evident there is a deficit, there is no clear way to reverse it.
Here's what we do know about unified commerce: both customers and retailers have high expectations for this model. Consumers now expect an intelligent and interactive buying experience across all consumer engagement points.
To accomplish a unified commerce system, retailers must possess a mature platform where all facets of commerce communicate cohesively using…
A record of buying patterns and purchase history that provides personalized product suggestions
Real-time inventory management that any brand representative or customer can tap into
Commerce platform that requires little to no IT support to navigate
Seamless channel-hopping-a unified UX across all channels, mobile, online and in-store.
Intuitive and seamless checkout, POS, and shopping cart
Extensive delivery and order fulfillment options, back in-stock notifications
You may be thinking, I've heard about this before, and wasn't it called omnichannel? Omnichannel is a similar school of thought to unified commerce, but with key differences.
The unified commerce model functions as a summation of its channels, as if the channels are the organs in a body and they are all working together to keep the body healthy (the body being the retailer). Whereas, the omnichannel model of commerce assumes each channel will operate separately, often devoid of communication.
As it turns out, the saying, "alone we can do so little, together we can do so much," applies to commerce models as well. Inevitably, each channel operates with greater efficiency if it maintains a constant dialogue with the other channels, establishing unified commerce as the superior system. This certainly comes into play when a consumer enters a store in search of a shirt they first reviewed on the m-commerce channel, but the store doesn't have the shirt in stock.
Unified commerce would provide the in-store brand representative with real-time inventory information, enabling the representative to place the order and deliver the shirt right to the consumer's doorstep. In this scenario, omnichannel would fail—the representative wouldn't be able to access the inventory management system, preventing the sale and leaving the consumer unfulfilled.
Getting Ahead of the Adoption Curve
Ultimately, unified commerce is a door to consumer empowerment. If the consumer leaves fulfilled after visiting a marketplace for the first time, there is a greater opportunity for repeat business, the first step in building brand loyalty.
There is no question of whether or not unified commerce offers a superior consumer experience. It certainly raises retail standards to a new high, but why are merchants jumping at the opportunity to integrate their systems? It makes their lives easier. Merchants prefer unified commerce because the model…
Offers merchants a stable infrastructure
Provides reliable access to their inventory management system, kept in real-time
Keeps brand consistent across all channels and store-fronts
Increases inventory turnover and processing speed
Associates brand with elevated level of service, quality, and convenience
Fosters brand loyalty and brand value
Extensive bandwidth using cloud storage
As with any paradigm shift, there will be skeptics and there will be enthusiasts. Unfortunately, software providers have very little time to entertain any sort of skepticism. Within a five year period, the majority of retailers will adopt unified commerce.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.
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