Have you heard of Unified Commerce?

Just when many retailers feel they more or less have the implementation of their omnichannel strategies and systems in order, a new buzz-word comes along: Unified Commerce.


Are we all faux-omnichannel?

Unified Commerce was launched in 2016 by Boston Retail Partners in a survey report on Customer Engagement. The results of this survey showed that although retailers did their best to become omnichannel retailers in terms of strategies, processes, systems, and people, in reality there was very little evidence of it to be seen. Hence, faux-omnichannel.

Some examples of where things often go wrong:

  • Being able to return online purchases to the store is a standard option with most retailers. Of course you need to bring proof of purchase with you because in many cases, the employee cannot easily find your online order. So check carefully that you are refunded correctly.
  • The more advanced omnichannel retailers do offer real-time views of stock levels in their shops. These views often have large buffers because the underlying systems do not allow real-time communication.
  • Central CRM systems that ensure that the digital communication is correctly personalised, based on offline purchases, is still too ambitious for almost all retailers. 

The full list of cross-channel retail services that retailers themselves considered problematic follows below. 


Although the survey dates from 2016, it is doubtful whether retailers made substantial investments in 2017, a crisis year for the retail sector, to tackle these problems.

Unified Commerce to the rescue?

The problems arise because separate channel solutions are still being used internally. Therefore, Unified Commerce’s solution for tackling these issues is technological in nature: retailers only need to install one centralised commerce platform where information flows in real time across different channels and customers.

There are countless advantages:

  • Availability of the entire stock maximises sales while the cost of inventory management falls.
  • Retailers will have more opportunities for order processing and delivery, which will allow them to make new propositions.
  • Personalisation can be applied immediately to all channels.
  • A more straightforward, scalable IT architecture allows for a best-of-breed approach that will grow with revenues.
  • Management becomes more transparent with real-time information about the entire chain that is always up-to-date.

Want to know more?

The Reference has applied this approach several times already. Register for our exclusive lunch session on March 7th and we'll tell you all about it.



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