Make every customer journey memorable with unified commerce
How retailers can fulfill five key customer expectations
Why unified commerce
A unified commerce strategy with a single source of truth can help retailers deliver personalized and seamless experiences.
The ability to drive value and convenience across paths to purchase is becoming a strong differentiator for retailers. However, with customer journeys becoming increasingly non-linear due to the explosion of channels from stores to online to mobile to video commerce, retailers find it daunting to meet evolving customer expectations and drive seamless experiences across touchpoints.
A unified commerce strategy serves as an antidote to retailers who had to contend with a patchwork of haphazard systems that fall short of meeting evolving customer expectations and completely revolutionizes the way customers shop. At its core, a unified commerce approach is about synergistic handoffs between channels. With a single view of past transactions, orders, inventory, and customer data, retailers can deliver a unified journey experience even as customer expectations evolve.
Let’s take a close look at core unified commerce capabilities that fulfill five key customer expectations:
Unified experiences across channels
With a universal cart, cart abandonment is no longer considered a lost opportunity but is seen as a new possibility.
Frictionless retail is not just about enabling customers to buy online and pick up in store; it is also about breaking channel silos at every step of their shopping journey. As customers shop whenever and wherever, a saved cart or a universal cart allows them to add, remove, modify, or purchase any of the items in their digital cart, irrespective of where they are—in-store, online, or on the retailer app.
While customers can add items from their digital cart to their in-store purchases, cashiers can add in-store items (that customers may want to purchase later) to the customer’s digital cart. With access to a complete view of shopping journeys and unified transaction data, retailers can make personalized promotions and contextual recommendations to maximize basket value without seeming overzealous. Let’s explore how a universal cart helps remove friction as Lhea switches between channels (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: The cart that travels with shoppers
BENEFITS OF UNIVERSAL CART
SELF-SERVE SHOPPING EXPERIENCES
Brands that don’t enable self-serve journeys risk being swiped left by Gen Z.
Having got used to ‘across-the-room’ interactions with Alexa for updates on everything from traffic to news and playing their favorites on Spotify and Netflix, modern shoppers expect their shopping experiences also to be voice-driven. This, augmented with the desire to have more control over their shopping journeys, is spurring the trend of self-serve retail solutions such as Scan and go apps. Powered by unified commerce, Scan and Go apps are now augmented with features such as visual search, item lookup, and voice assistants offering conveniences more than just payments and checkout (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Self-serve, digital shopping experiences powered by unified commerce
BENEFITS OF SCAN AND GO
Convenient returns and exchanges
At the heart of a rich customer experience is the brand’s ability to cater to typical customer behaviors, such as exchanging products they had purchased.
While retailers are adding BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) and BORIS (buy online, return in store) to their omnichannel and CX strategy roadmaps, truly customer-centric retailers are discovering that at the heart of a rich customer experience is the brand’s ability to cater to typical customer behaviors and meet their expectations. They realize that not all returns are due to ‘buyer’s remorse’ or customers agonizing over poor purchase decisions; BOPIS orders encourage ‘serendipity’ or the joy of discovering an interesting product or deal customers never set out to buy, making them change their mind about purchases already done.
Unified commerce helps retailers remove the hassle of product exchange and turn it into an opportunity to foster customer engagement, helping recover a lost sale or maximize basket value while earning customer loyalty (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Removing friction from product returns and exchanges
BENEFITS OF BUY ONLINE RETURN IN STORE (BORIS)
Easier access to product information
With customers pivoting toward mindful and healthier food choices, product transparency has become one of the top priorities for retailers.
All too often, consumers shopping for groceries and food products are not responsible for their own wellness but for that of their entire family. And with one in 10 American adult consumers and one in 13 children having a food allergy, food and grocery retailers cannot afford to take ingredient disclosure lightly.
Unified commerce offers enormous opportunities to secure customer trust and promote loyalty. By leveraging scan-and-go’s product explorer, customers now have access to product information in an easy and understandable way (see Figure 4). Unified commerce also helps retailers to pivot from a ‘product-first’ to a ‘customer-first’ promotions strategy, making customers feel the retailer is not just a product pusher but a custodian of their wellness goals.
Figure 4: Easier access to product information with product explorer
BENEFITS OF PRODUCT EXPLORER
Apart from speed and convenience, flexibility is now a baseline customer expectation.
Customers want retailers to offer them a plethora of choices for payment and order fulfillment. For instance, with safety becoming a norm, customers are seeking alternative payment methods that minimize exchange of cash. Customers are also more discrete about spending and are dipping into digital cash reserves such as loyalty points. Similarly, fulfillment is not just about speed and transparency: customers not only want to be able to shop whenever and wherever, they also want to be able to pick up their online orders from anywhere, be it in store, curbside, or from lockers.
Unified commerce empowers retailers to offer a choice of payments—from loyalty points and digital wallets to newer payment types such as crypto— as well as deliver flexible fulfillment options such as BOPIS, curbside pickup (see Figure 5), BORIS, ROPIS (reserve online, pick in-store), and lockers.
Figure 5: Flexible fulfillment is now a default customer expectation
BENEFITS OF FLEXIBLE FULFILLMENT
Making every journey memorable
At its core, a unified commerce approach is about synergistic handoffs between channels.
By having a single view of past transactions, orders, inventory, and customer data, unified commerce allows retailers to deliver a unified journey experience with contextual checkouts between online and store.
Retailers can create memorable micro-experiences by empowering store associates to offer a discount on wish-listed items or help shoppers avoid checkout lines through self or assisted checkouts on a mobile device. Shoppers can enjoy innovative omnichannel experiences such as saving items from the store to their digital cart, partial pickup, or delivery from the store.
By putting customers at the front and center and enabling commerce anywhere, a unified commerce platform can help retailers create the foundation for future retail.