Retailers struggling to come to terms with unified commerce

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Retailers have long struggled with disparate, legacy systems that have hampered their ability to integrate true omni-channel strategies.

Yet despite the recognition that a unified commerce platform can pay dividends, little more than half of retailers (53%) expect to implement a unified commerce platform in the next few years. However over the next ten years 86% of retailers plan to implement a unified commerce platform.

The conclusions have been drawn from a survey of nearly 300 US, European and Australian retail business and technology executives, carried out by the National Retail Federation, Ecommerce Europe and Ecommerce Foundation in partnership with Demandware.

Benefits realisation

Retailers realise the benefits such a strategy can bring but are most likely struggling with the time and investment required to get there. More than two thirds said they felt that a unified commerce platform could improve margins, brand value and revenue by unifying their point of sale, e-commerce and other consumer-facing platforms.

The survey also showed that more than half of retailers (52%) said they felt they would see significant improvement to controllable items that directly impact margin – such as inventory turn and returns and that nearly half (46%) expected to see increases in brand value – particularly due to positive impact on total customer value and their Net Promotor Score.

Meanwhile more than a third (38%) believe they would see significant improvements in average order value, promotional redemption and conversion rates.

Seemless integration

According Jorij Abraham, Ecommerce Foundation director, the study show how European retailers are slowly moving towards linking all their systems together to boost revenue and customer satisfaction.

“As brands continue the battle for customer mind-and wallet-share, there is a critical need for seamless, integrated front- and back-end systems," he said.

"Winning European retailers will recognise the benefits of this technology and organisational transformation as they break free from legacy operations approach and test new concepts, bring digital capabilities into the store and change traditional point-of-sale systems - to better manage their omni-channel commerce strategy and drive the bottom line."

The challenge for retailers in implementing such a strategy however comes from the major business shifts and investment required to establish a unified single commerce platform. The study found that 72% of retailers are currently planning the move to a single commerce platform.

Of these 13% are in the exploration phase such as gathering information and monitoring trends, a further 23% are discussing its viability but have no formal plans in place. More than a third (36%) are developing a formal plan and looking at budgets but only 22% are already in the execution or realisation stage.

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