If your business is both online and in-store, it may be challenging to keep all of your operations cohesive. One tool may not communicate with another, and you’re left doing manual work. Luckily, there are solutions; one popular method is unified commerce.

Implementing a unified commerce system may seem daunting. After all, you’re taking on entirely new technology that aims to change the way you currently run your business. However, the benefits are plenty, and companies across the globe have already made the switch. 

So, what is unified commerce, and how can it help your business?

Read on to discover how it can transform the customer shopping experience. 


What Is Unified Commerce?

Unified commerce is a business strategy in which a company integrates all its sales channels into one back-end system, including online and in-store. 

The idea is to keep business processes in one seamless, easy-to-use place. This also provides customers with a fully integrated shopping experience, as there is consistency across all channels. The tools needed to keep the business running, such as a point of sale (POS) system, customer relationship management (CRM), inventory management, and fulfillment management, are all unified in a straightforward solution.

This may sound similar to omnichannel commerce, where businesses can create a cohesive online and offline customer experience. However, unified commerce is a little different because it focuses on all business processes to improve the customer experience. This includes integrating warehouse management systems and CRM applications. 

By integrating all sales channels and processes, businesses can better understand their customers — and the buying habits of those customers. In turn, they can aim to provide an even better, more personalized service. 

Single channel vs multichannel vs omnichannel vs unified commerce

Source: Mercaux


What Are The Benefits of Unified Commerce?

Let’s look at some of the benefits of unified commerce for businesses.


Enhanced Data Utilization

Customer data is gold dust for businesses, whether it’s online shopping behavior or customer service call logs. That’s why it can pay to invest in a unified commerce system that can process, store, and analyze data and call center trends effectively. 

Unified commerce is valuable for many companies because it allows them to reflect on online and in-store consumer buying patterns, allowing them to track cross-channel data. 


Optimized Inventory Management

Streamlining inventory management is a huge benefit of using a unified commerce platform. You can keep your existing inventory management solution and simply integrate it with the rest of your tools using the unified commerce software. 

Alternatively, you can choose unified commerce software with built-in inventory management. This can help prevent the chances of running low on stock or overstocking on some products. 

It’ll also ensure order fulfillment is completed as smoothly as possible. Having all your fulfillment information in one place can help when you have to fulfill orders from various locations, such as warehouses, stores, and distribution centers, both online and in-store.


Greater Flexibility

While unified commerce offers flexibility to customers, it also provides flexibility to businesses. For example, companies can offer customers various ways to pay at checkout. In-store, this is usually cash or card, but online, it can be with credit cards, loyalty points, or recurring payment options. 

In return, businesses can analyze and compare how customers make their purchases and then adapt their sales approach accordingly. 

For instance, if they see customers making more purchases with monthly payment plans, they may wish to push those more as a payment option. This allows them to adapt quickly to market changes and emerging trends, making it easier to respond to growing customer demand.


More Efficient Order Management

Unified commerce allows for a more seamless processing system, as all necessary business tools are in one place. This means they can “communicate” with each other. When an order is placed online, it can be sent straight to fulfillment within the unified commerce system. 

This can translate into faster order processing times and, as a result, improved customer satisfaction. Here’s a look at why efficient order management is important:

An Order Management System (OMS) Empowers Commerce

Source: Deck Commerce


Significant Cost Savings

Another benefit of unified commerce is that it can lead to cost savings. Businesses no longer need to buy and subscribe to various channels. Instead, they can integrate their existing system into unified commerce software so all the information can be found in one place. 

This can also allow businesses to utilize their resources better. When using a single, integrated system, companies can allocate their resources more effectively because they can cross-check their processes with other tools in the system.


Sharper Competitive Edge

Unified commerce also offers businesses the chance to gain a competitive edge over their counterparts. When a business provides a seamless shopping experience, customers are more likely to return and tell their friends. This sets retailers apart from competitors and attracts customers looking for convenience and consistency.


Should Your Business Implement a Unified Commerce Strategy?

Can every business benefit from a unified commerce strategy? This model can help most businesses with a physical store and online presence. Bigger retailers that generate huge profits each year could benefit from operating their processes all in one place. While smaller and medium businesses may feel the benefit of utilizing unified commerce, larger corporations typically have more to juggle.

This isn’t to say that small to medium businesses can’t invest in solid unified commerce software to improve their operations. In fact, a unified system can automate many company processes for smaller businesses with fewer employees, such as using an AI scheduler to set appointments with colleagues.

Retailers with multiple locations may also appreciate unified commerce. If a business operates several stores across its country (or even in multiple countries), an all-in-one solution could help them keep organized and on top of business operations. 

It would allow them to manage, track, and stay up-to-date on their prices and promotions across all their stores. Staff will also benefit from this system, as it saves any confusion and enables them to effectively assist the customers who shop in-store and on the website. The graphic below demonstrates where customers tend to purchase from when they see a product online.

Chart showing how customers shop for products

Source: IMRG


6 Ways Unified Commerce Transforms The Shopping Experience

Here are six key ways unified commerce can transform the shopping experience for customers. 


1. Seamless Shopping Experience

In today’s shopping world, it’s perfectly normal to see something in-store and then head online to make a purchase. Similarly, you may see something online but want a better idea of how it looks and feels, so you go in-store for a closer look. 

Unified commerce allows for a more seamless shopping experience. Customers can move effortlessly between online and offline channels without disruptions. Businesses are fully equipped behind the scenes to handle customers moving between buying in-store and online.


2. Consistency Across The Board

Brand consistency can be important for businesses of all sizes. Having the same messaging, tone, aesthetic, and feel across all channels is critical for businesses to remain consistent. Unified commerce helps with this as it ensures the customer gets a consistent brand experience, regardless of the channel they’re using to access the business.


3. Ability to Online Research

Many people like researching products or services online before purchasing. A unified commerce system allows them to search online in real-time, meaning customers can even access stock levels in their closest store. It can also tell them information such as shipping details, store locations, and whether local deliveries are available.


4. Retailer Empowerment

Transforming the customer shopping experience involves the employees as much as the customers. If retailers feel happy and supported in their work, they are able to offer customers accurate and personalized service

Unified commerce empowers retail staff to make key observations within the system. It also allows them to check stock levels, order the customer’s item from another store, and communicate with the warehouse team. 


5. Integrated Loyalty Programs

Types of Loyalty Programs

Source: Prosperna

Every customer likes a loyalty program. The more they shop, the more reward points they get. It’s common consumer behavior for customers to return to a store they are rewarded by.

Loyalty programs can be seamlessly integrated into most unified commerce software. This lets customers earn points as they shop with your business, in-store or online. 

Many loyalty cards are stored electronically nowadays, which allows customers to use them wherever it is most convenient. This improves customer engagement and encourages repeat business.


6. Easy Returns

Lastly, a unified commerce system lets customers return to exchange products easily. Sometimes, customers buy something online and wish to return it in-store. With a comprehensive, unified solution, they can do so easily. 

Such an easy returns and exchange system may even encourage them to purchase more from your company, as they know that any issues they have with products can be resolved smoothly.

Top Reasons for Customer Returns

Source: The Good


Making Unified Commerce Your Priority 

A unified commerce solution can truly have it all. Having a POS system, CRM tool, warehouse management solution, and much more all in one place can revolutionize the daily running of a company. Not only does it improve your customer’s shopping experience, but it also helps employees do their jobs better. 

Plus, if you already use these systems separately, combining them into one handy solution can make sense. So, if you’re looking for a way to maximize and optimize your processes, investing in unified commerce could be a smart move for your business.