If you've been involved with operations for some time, you remember when omnichannel promised to solve retail's biggest problems.
But while it made things much easier for consumers, omnichannel has made it much harder on retailers. Enterprises have to spin up new channels as consumers demand them. A byproduct of this reactionary approach is a glut of siloes, redundancies and disconnected systems hidden under the surface.
This is a big reason why omnichannel was a major talking point at our recent customer conference, Aptos Engage 2023.
“Leaders are moving from omnichannel to an integrated platform strategy for Unified Commerce,” Bala Parameshwaran, Partner at Bain & Company shared at the event. “Organizations that take a holistic approach will be the most likely winners.”
This isn't a call to throw out your operations playbook, forget everything you know about retail and bet your future on the latest buzzword. In fact, that's far from the case.
Unified Commerce fulfills omnichannel's promise — according to survey results shared in Bain & Company's keynote, 68% of retailers believe Unified Commerce will be a big driver for customer experience — while solving for its biggest vulnerability: operational complexity.
In this blog post, we explore why Unified Commerce is the key to unlocking the most efficiency and productivity from omnichannel operations. And why it's more practical to put in place than you'd think.
Modern consumers demand holistic experiences. Today, this means more than offering a sales channel for every shopping preference. It now means offering a consistent experience for every shopping journey. And shopping journeys are more diverse and complex than ever before.
You can only achieve this by extending the seamlessness of your sales channels throughout every activity. Unified Commerce integrates your sales channels, systems, products, interactions and data to simplify and elevate the entire retail experience for customers and enterprises alike — with full flexibility and easy adaptability.
Omnichannel operations benefits from Unified Commerce in five key ways:
Enhanced efficiency, propelled by technology that integrates your entire retail operation
Implementing systems, processes and technology in a fraction of time and money
Empowering associates with the tools to solve problems and delight customers easily
Improved inventory productivity, supported by accurate, real-time inventory data
Differentiated, consistent and friction-free experiences that attract and retain customers
If you want to learn more about how to unlock these benefits, you can check out the chapter on omnichannel operations in our Unified Commerce Readiness Guide here.
The store is indispensable in any successful operations strategy in the Unified Commerce era.
Stores provide an unmatched degree of adaptability and access fit for today's complex customer journeys. Besides sales, stores can take on the tasks of inventory, fulfillment, marketing and more. They are an ideal source to aggregate transaction, CRM and behavior data to help you adapt to meet demand, merging all critical systems from Point of Sale (POS) to Merchandising.
Stores even make it faster and cheaper to fulfill digital orders, supporting customers even if they never step foot inside.
No wonder why the store and Unified Commerce are becoming increasingly synonymous. A recent survey we conducted with Retail Consulting Partners found that 71% of retailers say stores are part of their future growth plans. Seventy-one percent of retailers also have implemented, or plan to implement, a Unified Commerce solution.
Unified Commerce technology and stores will be the most worthwhile investments for retailers in 2023 and beyond, paying particular dividends in operational efficiency.
The purpose of Unified Commerce is to harmonize the entire retail experience for the customer and the organization. To make that work, the front office and the enterprise can't run parallel to each other. Their functions and goals must all be interwoven.
Omnichannel operations must be the connective tissue between these elements of your retail brand. Those who act accordingly will reap rewards across departments, systems and channels.
Unified Commerce integrates the front office, enterprise and stores through microservices.
These individual sets of code extend capabilities across business functions. Microservices are often referred to as the building blocks of Unified Commerce as they support retailers both within systems (e.g. store fulfillment for Order Management) and across them (store fulfillment data displayed on a POS device).
Alongside extensibility (achieved through API architecture), microservices lay the foundation for an omnichannel operations team that can easily adapt to change without disruption.
While the efforts are well worth it, the transition to Unified Commerce isn't necessarily open-and-shut. First, you must decide whether you prefer to compile a custom technology stack or invest in an out-of-the-box solution.
Then you have to map out what Unified Commerce will look like in practice. How will it integrate, improve and interact between systems? How will it bridge the gap between the front office, enterprise and store? In what ways will it solve your biggest pain points and align stakeholders?
Unified Commerce makes it easy to achieve the goals of operations, while solving previously unsolvable problems and limitations inherent in omnichannel retail.
With this approach, omnichannel operations departments become more agile, resilient and efficient. Your team can drive growth, support goals and lift KPIs across your enterprise. And you can stay competitive in a constantly changing and complex retail market.
The path to Unified Commerce can be shrouded in mystery and contrary opinions. As the leader in Unified Commerce, Aptos understands better than anyone the precise steps required to achieve this goal, from earning buy-in from stakeholders to scaling solutions across your stores — and everything in between — at a granular level.
That’s why we put together our Unified Commerce Readiness Guide. In it, you’ll learn everything you should consider, every benefit you’ll gain and every step you should take when preparing your retail enterprise for Unified Commerce.