For Simon, who thought that the most important in e-commerce was the "e"

E-commerce is not a channel among others. Consumers want to buy wherever they want, whenever they want. They are looking for a Unified Commerce experience.

Definition of Unified Commerce

Today’s consumers want to buy where they want, when they want, and to get their purchases in the way that suits them best (such as delivery, store pick-up and so on).

 

 

Rather than omnichannel experiences, what today’s consumers really want is Unified Commerce, in other words sales with an inherently consumer-centred approach. Consumers relationship with a brand should be like an easy, fluid conversation from which consumers can log out and which they can pick back up whenever they feels it. When consumerd switches from the brand’s store to its website, or from its mobile app to a customer service number, they expect total continuity without having to start from scratch all over again.

 

For you Fiona, who visited two times the store and the website before eventually buying on Amazon

Fiona doesn’t care about your stock management and cash register problems. She wants a plush for her niece, without the hassle. She doesn’t know it, but she’s looking for a Unified Commerce experience.

For you Jenn, who couldn't buy that “blazing hot” blouse you saw on Instagram

Jenn doesn’t care about your ecommerce planning. She wants that blouse she’s just got to have. Even if it means picking it up in a store, or paying for delivery. She doesn’t know it, but she’s looking for a Unified Commerce experience.

For you Paul, who can't figure out your order and end up buying everything on Amazon

Paul doesn’t care about the challenges of your ecommerce solution. He wants to be able to buy any item in one click, without the hassle. He doesn’t know it, but he’s looking for a Unified Commerce experience.

These disappointing experiences demonstrate that a gap still remains between what customers want and what retailers and brands are able to offer them. There are a variety of reasons for this, one of which is omnichannel commerce. 

For further information...

The difference between an omnichannel and a Unified Commerce project

Multichannel, crosschannel, omnichannel: all these overly used terms are primarily responsible for the problems we still encounter today. Unified Commerce is fundamentally different. It is 100% customer-focused.

Omnichannel Commerce

By definition, an omnichannel strategy is focused on the business’ different channels and how to combine them. For nearly five years now, brands and retailers have been trying to create unique consumer experience as a way of maximising customer satisfaction rates and boosting sales. This approach, combined with the capacity of the information systems of the time, encouraged businesses to request the services of several stakeholders, each offering part of the solution.

To create an omnichannel customer experience, brands had to go digging three different software at a minimum and rope all the different services together which was expensive and risky.

With the number of sales channels constantly increasing like social selling, voice, video and so on, it is no longer possible for retailers to continue using different solutions to manage each channel. A 360° overview of stock, orders, customers and shops has become the cornerstone of the relationship between retailers and consumers.

 

 

Unified Commerce

Unified commerce, on the other hand, focuses on the customer experience.

Unified Commerce delivers a seamless experience on all channels used by the consumer. To achieve this goal all data (products, price, stocks, consumers, web & store history), basket and all orders & returns functions are unified and shared on all channels. Additionnal channels may appear (Social, Voice, IOT) but Unified Commerce base remain the same.

And consumers can move from a channel to another, buy articles on several channels, use the same basket, without any friction, with a single payment.

Consumers are satisfied and the company increase sales and simplify IT.

The advantages of Unified Commerce for Brands and Retailers

 By switching to Unified Commerce, brands go back to basics and achieve in making the implicit promise that any retailer wants to make: delivering a product or service under the best possible conditions for the user!

Migrating to unified commerce provides a certain number of advantages for brands and retailers:

 

Selling more

Recovering abandoned web baskets for in-store finalisation. Selling articles which are out of stock in a store and having them delivered according to the consumers preference. Selling additional articles during an in-store pick-up.

Reducing unsold items

Using the website to highlight products in stock in the store . Enabling customers to combine several delivery methods within one basket to compensate for web stock shortages.

Optimising logistics

Sending products from stores rather than warehouses when this is more convenient (and not just warehouses). Having an environmentally friendly approach by using ship-from-store for city-centre deliveries. Replacing software spread across silos enables a lower ownership cost.

In figures:

x2 Sales Conversion Rate
+15% Margins Increase
of Unsold items in Store -30%

The advantages of Unified Commerce for consumers

Offering a unified customer journey means: looking after your customers, listening to them, saving them time, eliminating confusing or contradictory information, avoiding the need for them to repeat their actions and much more….It also means offering them a personalised service, as close as possible to the single customer experience.

If we take the examples of consumer journeys referred to in our introduction, this is what their Unified Commerce experience would look like:

Fiona would not have had to buy the present for her niece on Amazon

going to the shop, she would have been able to order the cuddly toy which was out of stock from the seller equipped with a tablet and either have it delivered to the store or directly to her home address.

Jenn would have been able to reserve the blouse she spotted on Instagram,

then come and get it two hours later after her meeting.

Paul would not have had problems with the checkout process,

because, despite one of his products being out of stock online, he would nonetheless have been able to reserve it in-store and complete his purchases with a single checkout.

Unified Commerce therefore makes it possible to provide an optimal experience with the business or brand, during all phases of the journey, whether while researching, browsing, purchasing, consuming or returning a product or a service.

With Unified Commerce, Consumer is a channel.

E-commerce redesign, the first stage in Unified Commerce

Ecommerce figures are increasing year on year and many brands and businesses want to improve their online strategy in order to win market share. To get there, redesigning their e-commerce website tends to come up as the first decision

 

They often think that optimising UX, browsing and e-commerce checkout would be sufficient to increase figures, even if e-commerce represents only 5% of global sales.

That’s it! Gathering digital & stores is a number one priority when we think about website redesiging. Focusing on e-commerce only would be counter-productive because it would jeopardise 96% of  in store sales.

Trying to imitate huge e-commerce players when you have a powerful physical network is a strategic mistake. Not only you won’t succeed but also this will be done at the expense of your stores and your consumers.

Try to think in broader terms about the overall experience you want to offer your consumers: a unified experience.

The Unified Basket, a key element in Unified Commerce

In stores, customers regularly encounter out-of-stock items. This is also the case on the website. The products appear out-of-stock even if they are available. They are just not in the right place at the right time. 

To solve these problems, the Unified Basket offers the unique ability to find the right products wherever they are, in the store or the warehouse, and to make them available as the customer wishes, by pick-up or by delivery.

This promise is therefore given to the customer via the website, as well as to the seller in store via an application. They can therefore put together a Unified Basket with all the products sought, regardless of the methods of provision offered for each product.

This Unified Basket is not limited to one channel. A customer can start a basket online and finish it with a seller in-store. An in-store seller can recover an abandoned basket online in order to convert it during the customer’s visit.
Combined with a simplified checkout and a single payment, this new Unified Commerce process makes it possible to double the conversion rate on sales channels.

Adopting Unified Commerce step by step

Unified commerce empowers customers to switch effortlessly between the online world and the world of physical stores, customer service and mobile apps, online baskets and in-store reservations.

As far as the user is concerned, buying couldn’t be easier or more fluid. Behind the scenes, the brand must lay the foundations of its strategy and acquire the appropriate tools for implementing this experience.

Here are the key steps in implementing a Unified Commerce strategy:

  1. Do not change your IT
  2. Gather all your data in a frame of reference
  3. Enrich your data according to your needs and expected experiences
  4. Unify Stocks
  5. Define the Consumer Promise for each product
  6. Define orchestration rules for each order type
  7. Give smartphone to your sales representatives
  8. Train your sales representatives
  9. Let's get started!

Switching to unified commerce in seven months: JouéClub managed to do so!

JouéClub was an e-commerce pioneer when it launched its first website in 1997, followed by a “Drive” service in late 2011. It was, however, high time JouéClub reviewed its strategy. 

As a cooperative with 220 members and 300 stores, JouéClub was ready to launch a large-scale project. « Our teams in the field understand how consumers have evolved in their purchasing methods. We involved them in our project from the outset: “This is our members’ site,” explains Aurélie Cayla, marketing and digital manager. Having previously had a platform solely dedicated to e-commerce with home delivery only, and another platform, JouéClub Drive, for click & collect, linked to the 221 websites of our members, JouéClub merged all its websites into one, including all Unified Commerce functionalities.

What retail experts think of Unified Commerce

If you have made it this far, you are almost certainly convinced that omnichannel is dead and Unified Commerce should be the norm. 

Any doubts remaining? We suggest that you take a look at our press review, covering a few articles in publications such as Gartner, The Observer and Forbes.

Gartner

Walmart, The Empire Strikes Back Through Unified Retail Commerce

“With the future state of retail still evolving its important that organizations use their core strengths as a foundation...

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The Observer

The Four Pillars of New Retail

“Omni-channel was a great concept five years ago, before New Retail started to manifest from theory to reality...

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Forbes

Omnichannel Is Dead. The Future Is Harmonized Retail

“The essence of harmonized retail is accepting the truth that all the talk about different channels is not particularly...

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