By IMAGES Retail Bureau
Unified Commerce is the evolution of both multi-channel and omni-channel retailing that provides a seamless experience in the store, on the Web or anywhere customers choose to shop. The key unified commerce initiatives, such as enhancing customer engagement, collecting and analysing customer behaviour, and personalising the experience, are the top priorities for retailers, according to the results of a recent Boston Retail Partners first Annual CRM/ Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey.
The 2014 CRM/ Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current state and planned initiatives, priorities, and future trends that relate to customer relationship management (CRM) practices associated with the retail industry’s shift to Unified Commerce.
“It was impressive to learn how many retailers are now focused on implementing the technologies to deliver Unified Commerce, but there is still a lot of work to be done to deliver these capabilities,” said Walter Deacon, Principal, Boston Retail Partners. “Delivering Unified Commerce requires seamless execution of the right strategy, technology, and business processes.”
The looming challenge is that while marketing become the centre of the Unified Commerce organization, it is often still on its own with regards to developing marketing technology strategies and evaluating and selecting technology. With the importance of multiple key marketing initiatives to achieve a seamless shopping experience, retailers need to examine ways to improve the unification of marketing and IT to successfully implement these projects. Many large retailers have developed a role in the organisation that helps bridge this gap – a senior level role responsible for working with IT to develop a marketing technology strategy and evaluate and implement the technology.
To deliver the seamless experience, retailers need to gather, analyze, and disseminate customer, product, pricing, and inventory data in real-time,” said Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners. “Leveraging technology, Unified Commerce provides the platform and real-time retail is key to delivering the experience. Retailers that successfully deliver Unified Commerce will understand and adopt a ‘unified’ approach for: strategic consumer initiatives, technology, business processes and execution.”
Key Survey Results:
- 95 percent of the respondents indicated customer experience/ customer engagement is one of their top three current initiatives
- 3 percent have the ability to identify the customer when she walks in the store, and another 72 percent plan to implement this within five years
- 16 percent currently have real-time retail from POS (which offers the “Amazon” experience in the store) and another 63 percent plan to implement within five years
- 28 percent currently use mobile marketing and another 62 percent plan to implement this within five years (56 percent plan to implement mobile marketing within two years)
- 81 percent have implemented some type of customer database, typically as part of a CRM or loyalty platform
- 22 percent of retailers have implemented real-time analytics and 61 percent plan to implement it within two years
Boston Retail Partners (BRP) is a retail management consulting firm offering services including strategy, business intelligence, business process optimisation, point of sale (POS), mobile POS, store systems and operations CRM, Unified Commerce, customer experience and engagement, order management, ecommerce, merchandise management, supply chain, information technology, and private equity.