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Unified Commerce Guide for 2022 - Going Beyond Omnichannel in Retail

In today’s digital world, customers are demanding digital-led experiences that deliver customized and
personalized customer satisfaction. Retailers are engaging themselves in different initiatives which
deliver efficient and personalized experiences to its consumers. They are undertaking various
differentiated strategies and solutions to effectively understand what makes customer choose the
right product and what they in-turn end up buying. Retailers are thus seeking to adopt agile and
modern solution that complement excellent customer engagement and differentiation in a
competitive marketplace.

According to Forrester’s European consumer survey, 50% of European online adults are using
technology to engage with companies more than before the pandemic started. This technology often
translates into a hybrid customer experience, across digital and physical touchpoints as customers
are beginning their buying journey online and then visit stores for actual purchase i.e., confirming an
item’s stock level online prior to visiting the store or placing a click-and-collect order. Retailers are
thus expected to have visibility across every end point of the customer journey to be able to help its
customers shop seamlessly with maximum information and transparency.

Even tough, retailers have harnessed the benefits of multichannel and omnichannel solutions, yet
they are unable to fully comply with the demands of its customers. Retailers are unable to gather
insights into their supply chain and integration on the final delivery to the customer and order
feedback. Factors such as customer profiling, communications, offers, point of sale, and inventory
remain disjoint for most of the retailers.

UC is one step beyond omni-channel and uses a tightly integrated technology stack to build a
customer-driven ecosystem. It focuses on the entire customer loyalty lifecycle: from marketing, to
order fulfilment, to after-sales care. Retailers are thus shifting their focus towards unified commerce
solutions due to its various benefits of customer centricity. Further, it is expected that going forward,
UC will offer a market of $3 trillion to be captured.

Omnichannel vs UC 

Although omnichannel has its own advantages, UC is expected to be adopted by most of the retailers 
going forward mainly due to its ability to unify data across various end points and offer enhanced 
customization and personalized services to its customers. Main difference for the preference of UC 
over omnichannel are the following:
Omnichannel Platform 
All the sales channels are not connected 
All the sales channels are connected 
No real time data updates limiting 
communication across different channels
Real time data updates enable efficient 
communication across different channels 
Implemented on a traditionally coupled 
Implemented on a headless or decoupled 
Does not help gather data from different end 
points on to a single point
Helps gather insights and track data across 
different channel from a single point 
Nonlinearity of data does not allow for 
Unification of data enables effortless 

There are certain benefits of UC over omnichannel platforms which seek to attract retailers in the coming future. These include:

  • Better inventory management: UC allows for data to be present in one place enabling better inventory management and constant updates between front-end and back-end in real time.
  • Seamless communication: UC enables end-to-end connection for real time update of data. This makes data more transparent and reduces errors and miscommunications. This further enables complete knowledge within teams about what is happening at the other end improving customer satisfaction and experience.
  • Improved order fulfillment processes: UC offers a unified system which helps identify the availability of the product across multiple warehouses. This helps to have the product information at fingertips and ensures smoother order fulfillment processes and capacity.
  • Enhanced data collection: UC helps in collection of data appropriately in an organized and efficient way. This in-turn helps retailers gather insights and analyze them and understand their customers better to be able to offer more personalized services and increase customer satisfaction.

Four key components of Unified Commerce

Interactions Channels Systems Products
Refers to business
interactions with customers as well as business unit interactions within and amongst each other to deliver personalized and
satisfactory CX
Refers to customer engagement channels which provide CX that flows continually and isn’t interrupted as customer toggles between multiple channels Refers to the use of loyalty software which includes POS systems, e-commerce platforms, order and inventory management and fulfilment, and channel and marketplace management which connects all customer-facing and backend retail management systems and processes Consistent product information should be provided across in-store, social media, and website to the customers

There are a few steps which every organization should undertake for a successful UC transition. These include:

  • · Reviewing inter-department technology: The first and the foremost step includes checking for the existing technologies already deployed and identifying silos and their negative impact on the already existing operational areas.
  • · Auditing buyer journey: Retailers need to check the customer experience delivered by them and then developing strategies to improve it with the help of the right UC technology.
  • · Optimizing data management: UC enables in the interconnected of data and unifies data in one place. Retailers can use this data to analyze, forecast and predict their customer
  • behavior and be a step ahead of their competitors. These insights help retailers delight their customers and offer personalized services customized as per their preferences.
  • · Adopt the right technology: As a retailer identifies the gap and challenges related to its customer experience journey, it then needs to identify the apt UC solution which can help it establish data visibility, hygiene, and management in order to deliver a consistently satisfying experience throughout all key points within the customer journey.

Current e-Commerce and UC scenario in the UK and Europe

The UK has witnessed a potential growth in the retail industry with typically Manchester being the growing hub for retail and digital industries. The UK e-commerce market is expected to grow to GBP 92 bn by 2025 from GBP 81 bn in 2021. Also, the UK e-commerce conversion rate (1.88%) is globally third right after Germany (2.22%) and the US (1.96%). 8x8, the US UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) and ECaaS (Enterprise Communications as-a-service) service provider is expanding its operations in the UK by acquiring companies and opening regional offices.

Halfords, UK’s leading retailer of motoring and cycling services and products, selected 8x8 integrated cloud contact centre and communications product to unify its communication and contact center operations. 8x8 was selected due to platform scalability, flexibility and integrations with Salesforce and Calabrio Teleopti Workforce Management.

Mulberry, UK’s fashion brand deployed the Aptos’s Order Management solution across multiple countries in Europe, Asia, and North America for a unified view of inventory whether stock is in stores, distribution centres or warehouses.

The success of any e-commerce platform depends on the impact it leaves behind on the customers while shopping. Retailers are thus shifting their focus towards implementing a unified commerce approach, connecting all the business systems such as order fulfillment, inventory management, customer relationship management, and point of sales with one another through a single platform.

UC is one such solution which is rapidly gaining prominence and is expected to be a key to unlocking digital business transformation. The omnichannel concept, combined with unified commerce, creates a much more advanced and futuristic platform that seamlessly integrates all channels and departments of the business.

Xebia can harness the potential of this burgeoning market and offer its platforms and solutions to the retailers. It can help retailer develop agile software solutions, create a single unified source of data to enhance customer experience across all touchpoints and in-turn help retailers shorten time-to-market and maximize revenue. Talk to us today to know where you stand in your unified commerce initiatives and how we can together create a path to unified journey.


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