The pandemic was a catalyst for new trends. It confirmed the need for businesses to put sales systems in place with the capacity to handle both growing consumer needs and economic disruption. Stock shortages, the closure of physical points of sale, changes in buying behaviors – the move towards unified commerce is increasingly becoming more than just a business priority – it’s a necessity!
Going beyond the limitations of multichannel and cross-channel selling, a unified business aims to create an entire ecosystem that consolidates sales process information in its entirety (e.g.product catalogs, stock, customer profiles, sales, returns) to offer a streamlined and personalized customer journey like never before.
A new generation of tools for unified commerce
In response to how consumer buying behaviour has evolved, most businesses are doing more than just offering physical points of sale and rushing to build an online presence.
Complementing widespread practices like Click & Collect, the tech boom is supported by a host of tools, all designed to streamline the customer journey between real and virtual points of sale and improve the flow of customer information.
A unified commerce strategy also increases sales (plus additional sales) and customer satisfaction. Thanks to the increasing presence of tablets and terminals in shops, many issues can be resolved – handling in-store stock shortages through online orders (order in store), refunding online purchases in-store, etc.
The ability to order a product that is out of stock in-store to be delivered to a chosen address, order in store not only solves the problem of stock shortages but also extends the range of products available to customers. All the while reducing the space needed for a physical point of sale and lowering related rental costs.
Making tablets available to customers reduces purchasing waiting times (and the frustration this entails!) for better conversation rates at peak times, delivering an optimized customer experience.
Cross-channel refunds are another way to remove barriers to buying in the context of a unified commerce strategy. By allowing in-store refunds of products purchased online (and the reverse), customers are offered alternative products and/or make potential further sales.
Streamlining and tailoring payment processes
Adopting unified commerce methods facilitates the payment types available to customers. The current level of inflation and economic turmoil mean there can be numerous barriers to making a purchase. These methods help with cash flow management – for customers as well as for businesses.
With prices too high for 44% of consumers and 34% experiencing a lack of available cash, the French are already using Buy now, Pay later to defer payment for their purchases to a later date – usually in the following 15–30 days – without any extra charges.
Split payments or ‘free credit’ is another method of helping payment through paying in installments. Terms are often fixed at 90 days, allowing sellers to offer payment with no charges as it is exempt from consumer credit rules. With 53% of French people already using this payment method, almost three-quarters of sellers recognize the impact this can have on their sales!
More than a simple collection of digital initiatives existing side-by-side, a unified business must see itself as a complete ecosystem where the customer experience unfolds smoothly. New customers, better satisfaction levels, an increase in Customer Lifetime Value – there are numerous and significant benefits for businesses that know how to operate in a unified way. It is no surprise that 72% of merchants are making unified business THE number one priority!