Developing a unified commerce

BY Australian Retailers Association
20 September 2018

Retailers should no longer be adapting to change, they should be driving the future of retail

With so many international retailers setting up shop in Australia it’s important local and independent retailers are on the front foot. Adapting to consumer behaviour and technology advances is no longer an option, retailers need to be forward-thinking and pushing the retail sphere forward. The top four ways retailers should be driving the retail realm are:

1. Create meaningful customer experiences

Retailers who compete on price alone are doomed to face the race at the bottom of the pack. Differentiating product offering, range and customer experience are great ways retailers can keep up with today’s savvy shoppers. Customers want persona-based shopping experiences and the ability to shop when and where they want. With technology at your fingertips, retailers can have all channels ported into a singular view of the customer’s shopping behaviours and history. Regardless of the experience, Retailers need to provide customers with convenience. To achieve this, retailers must embrace technology.

2. Embrace technology or prepare to fail

Many retailers do not have systems in place to track inventory status and customer data. This weakness within the retail sector is significant, with more than a third of retailers don’t have the ability to track sales in real time. Put simply, there’s an incredibly large number of retailers who don’t have any technologically based equipment. Without the right systems in place, you’re not able to provide tailored and personalised messages to your customers at the right time.

The overall goal for all retailers is to achieve a single commerce platform along with efficient middleware to connect all sales channels and customer touch points into one point of truth. In effect, this also offers retailers more flexible technology architecture, by either centralising systems to a data centre or, preferably in the cloud. Since all your customer data no longer operates in silos, retailers can expect increased customer retention achieved through tailored and customer centric approaches. Once you’ve developed a single point of truth, you’re able to provide appropriate services across physical locations and digital channels. In a world where customers reign supreme, retailers must look toward to the unified commerce model.

3. Unified commerce is the key

Put simply, unified commerce gives customers options, whenever, wherever. Customers want a seamless shopping experience whether they buy from you online or offline. No more online and offline in separation, it’s all just retail. Unified commerce helps you provide that type of experience. Merchants can improve their services such as buy online, pickup in-store, return in store and ship from store. For example, a local customer is out on their lunch break and spots a dress in the shop window display. With no time to shop in store, she takes a photo of the dress on display to remind herself to purchase when she arrives home. Creating the ability to locate and purchase that dress shop window could earn your business additional sales and improved customer retention — the unified commerce world offers this opportunity to customers wherever, whenever.

4. Remember, digitally influenced in-store sales trump e-commerce

Research in 2016 conducted by Deloitte, shows that 56% of every US dollar spent in store is influence by a digital interaction or a device and is growing rapidly. For bricks-and-mortar sales Deloitte have estimated that digitally influenced physical store sales are about five times online sales.

Additionally, customers today are searching via their internet browser to get exactly what they want; the search engine is curating exact assortment they are seeking, faster than a visit to your store.

It’s important to know your value proposition, invest in the right tech, specialise, have a private label, build and define your culture and create meaningful customer experience and enhance customer loyalty.

Remember, no more offline and online separation, it’s all just retail.

James Lewis is the Digital Manager of Frontline Stores and has a wealth of experience in the retail online space and is working at the coalface with independent retailers to maximise their business online and drive customers in store. Learn more at https://www.frontlinestores.com.au/

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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