Unified Commerce; the Single Software Approach for Multi-Channel Retail
Today’s shoppers demand unified experience across channels. They wish to buy anywhere, receive anywhere, and return anywhere. If they bought it online, they want to return in-store. If an item is out-of-stock in-store, they want to see it on their mobile. They walk into the store and ask the in-store sales associate to order something online for them and wants to get it delivered at their residence.
In-Store shoppers are also demanding more details about the inventory – such as expiry date of the lot across the stores. They want to check it themselves on their mobile, rather than walking into the store to ask for availability.
In-Store shoppers are now looking forward to sharing feedback of their purchase online using their mobile. They expect prompt assistance and product recommendations irrespective of which sales channel was used to enquire or buy the previous product. They expect it to be relevant and timely.
Merchants are currently sync data across multiple, disparate software systems and this finds it hard to offer the experience that customer wants. Unified commerce calls for a single platform, with an advanced middleware, to replace that. The central pillar of unified commerce is a blending of data across channels in real-time, enabling a consistently seamless customer experience. The unified commerce operation is achieved by replacing the existing e-commerce software, retail POS billing software, ERP or warehouse management software, and software used to manage marketplace listings, with a single software for a consistent order management and fulfilment capability. The single software approach removes the need for syncing data completely.
If the item that customer ordered happens to be sitting in a store closest to the customer, why not leverage that store as a distribution center and redirect logistic deliveries to that store instead of the central fulfilment warehouse?
To make the most of unified commerce, retailers in addition to setting up a single unified software need to set up internal processes that enable products to be shipped from the most effective locations. The shopper could even elect to pick it up themselves if they need it as soon as possible.