So many need-to-have or impulse purchases are lost when retailers can’t satisfy those cravings in the moment.
Those moments are when omnichannel retailing, or unified commerce, enters the picture. Unified commerce sees each sales channel with equal value and supports them all. It’s the strategy that allows your customers to be served seamlessly across all channels — brick and mortar, mobile, and wholesale — so they can buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere, and return anywhere, if needed.
On the surface, it’s easy to assume that diving into the unified commerce strategy requires spending lots of money, but you can’t afford not to.
Successful retailers are prioritizing unified commerce. Here’s why you should, too:
It gives customers increased flexibility in their purchasing habits.
Unlike single-channel retail, which offers items only in the store, unified commerce provides customers with options. If they’re near a store, they can buy there. But what about your customer who maintains a daytime job, has to pick up the kids directly after work, has to get dinner on the table, and then maybe has a moment to surf the web after the kids have been put to sleep? The ability to locate and purchase that pair of shoes she saw in a storefront window could earn your business additional sales and repeat customers — long after daytime business hours have ended.
Efficient inventory utilization equals less product wasted.
First things first: Develop a visible inventory paired with the technology to keep track of it. Store inventory and distribution center inventory are no longer siloes and must now work in tandem to fulfill orders quickly and efficiently. Ultimately, that efficiency will reduce the amount of inactive product at any location, as product can be more easily found and moved from one location to another based on supply and demand. In the long run, your newly defined inventory utilization system can also protect margins by minimizing markdowns through the ability to redistribute among locations.
A strong order management system is a game changer for customer service and deliverability.
In addition to developing an efficient inventory system, successful unified commerce also relies on an order management system. In your efforts to provide your customers with a seamless experience, the key is to ensure consistency in the look and feel from the storefront to a mobile device. Embedded within a stellar order management system is the ability to aggregate order visibility, minimize the risk of fraud, and handle multiple payment methods.
Further, an order management system can transform the quality of your customer service. When store associates can see customers’ purchase histories, they can make additional recommendations and connect more personally. The technology will also locate inventory for in-store pickup and integrate with the delivery method to push quicker transit times.
It stimulates business growth.
According to comScore, “40% of purchases are made crossing channels, whether searching in store and purchasing online or vice versa.” That’s a powerful reality that your profit margins and the longevity of your business will benefit from. The secret to being consistent across channels is delivering the same message and user experience. Ensuring the same shopping experience across channels encourages greater customer spend and more streamlined branding.
If you’re not implementing unified commerce technologies, you can bet your competitors — if they haven’t already — will be. And they could be taking your sales along with them.
Alain Poirier is Vice President of Enterprise Sales at eBay Enterprise.