Unified commerce is the next big opportunity for retailers globally.

This practice can deliver consistent customer journeys across multiple channels and connects retailers’ backend systems with their customer-facing channels via a single platform.

The result is a frictionless experience for customers.

Retailers are asking us now more than ever: “Why and how do we achieve unified commerce?”.         

Consistent customer experience across all channels

Rising customer expectations, the desire for value matching, and fierce global competition have made the shift to unified commerce more important than ever. This is necessary to retain and grow customer loyalty and market share.

If you have multiple brands, unified commerce can help you cross-promote via a single authentication, allowing customers to move between your brands seamlessly. If your products have crossover relevance, then unified commerce will allow you to better propose combined offers – e.g., sneakers and backpacks, or camping equipment and tire chains, for higher value interactions.

Hypercharged customer 360

By integrating data from various touchpoints, retailers can gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers’ preferences, behaviours, and purchase histories. This will enable personalisation when it comes to promotions, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Unified commerce provides customer facing and internal teams with consolidated data insights to better understand their customers preferences and behaviour. If your business has given customers a reason to authenticate, unified commerce will allow IP and further details to be more readily shared safely – which is ideal for high-involvement purchases such as electronics and technology purchases. Unified commerce can also provide access to key buying triggers and enable team members to better understand what will drive a specific purchase to secure a sale.

The API advantage

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) serve as the backbone of unified commerce, enabling seamless integration, interoperability, data exchange, customisation, scalability, and innovation across an entire retail ecosystem.

For technical teams, API-led systems make it easier to achieve compliance, overall data accessibility, integrations of customer service, marketing automation and the addition of channels. This leads to better utilisation of these services and reduces the amount of time spent by the IT team on removing technical debt and maintaining systems.

A unified commerce system will also allow retailers to remove the hardcoded services and bottlenecks, replacing them with services that integrate via APIs.

How unified commerce will encourage technological and organisational cohesion

As expert and experienced technology solutions providers, at Fujitsu we see unified commerce as a two-pronged journey involving not just a technical transformation, but an organisational transformation.

We challenge retailers to break down entrenched data silos, because when we modernise the technology, this also requires new ways of working.

Achieving success in delivering a seamless and engaging customer experience through technology transformation requires the following steps:

  1. Unify operations, ecommerce, and store under the sales function. This requires working towards a single set of targets, without focusing on where the point of conversion is in the customer journey. In this model, the key focus is on conversion and not the platform/channel, for example, in store, online or via social media. This involves a shift in mindset on the attribution of sales and working cohesively towards one goal of satisfying the customer and achieving a better bottom line result via cost efficiencies.
  2. Combine marketing, customer service and merchandising under the customer experience function. This enables retailers to better understand the customer, providing a 360 view, when key specialists across merchandising, customer service, and merchandising are together looking at the same data on a customer and using your various owned platforms to react, anticipate and excite your customers.
  3. Consolidate design, production and logistics under supply chain. This enables retailers to leverage insights from operations and sales, and understand how customers are responding to products to drive efficiencies and environmental outcomes across the supply chain.

We acknowledge there will be an initial investment in budget and time to set up a unified commerce system. But the advantages that this type of architectural strategy provide are foundational to all other benefits we have outlined here. The ROI is well worth it when done with the right advice, partner, and organisational support.

The benefits and scale of opportunity are immense. Unified commerce provides retailers with the capability to deliver a consistent and context-specific experience across all their channels, so their customers can enjoy a frictionless experience. This in turn assists in stimulating repeat business and an improved bottom-line for the retailer – the ultimate win-win-win.

Anthony Mittelmark is chief technology officer at Fujitsu Retail.