In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, retailers are frantically searching for the holy grail of success. It was once Omni-channel, but today’s consumers need, want and expect more. A more strategic path to success is via Unified Commerce, which is active, growing and evolving. The Omni-channel path lacks key success components in the buying journey that the Unified Commerce path provides, and retailers should take action now or be left behind.
Retail is complicated, with countless marketing apps, increasing social media impact, expanding global competition, government regulations, tariff challenges, and an ever-changing customer mindset. As such, our focus has been heightened toward flawless execution of the consumer purchase journey. Today’s reality now includes operations, third-party integrations, diverse staff configurations, real-time inventory and much more.
To survive and thrive in this complex retail world, our focus must be Unified Commerce. Omni-Channel and Unified Commerce do not mean the same thing. Omni-Channel is simply a purchase journey where products can be bought via any channel, anytime, but does not unify the interactions. Unified Commerce uses a single platform, eliminating internal channels & corresponding silos, creating a frictionless, seamless, consistent buying experience.
Still confused? Think of Omni-Channel Commerce as a music jam while thinking of Unified Commerce as a symphony orchestra. The music jam, comprised of excellent musicians, is almost a free-for-all lacking strongly defined components, precise mapping, and consistent processes, yet with a specific end result. A symphony orchestra, with all components strongly defined, purposeful and synchronized, provides a unified, seamless experience, resulting in the end product you were expecting, and the manner in which you were expecting to get it!
Regardless of complexity, Zimmerman tackles these Unified Commerce challenges head-on, to establish retail and commercial leadership for our clients. As complex as they may be, there are still basic, yet essential components we require for all of our Unified Commerce strategies to succeed.
Integration is the primary component. Complete integration is essential, as customers know when their shopping experience is disconnected, resulting in frustration and a search for a better journey. We place a strong value on constant iteration, as buying habits and marketing technologies can change in the wink of an eye. We strive to constantly improve and adapt to the needs of our clients to meet ever-changing consumer demands. We innovate, researching and pursuing the latest marketing tools to fulfill client-specific requirements. If necessary, we create them on our own, as demonstrated by our successful proprietary Hyperlocal and Consumer Acquisition (CAM) applications.
Today, Unified Commerce includes retailers, suppliers, agency partners and any vendors that contribute to a flawless purchasing journey. Done right, customer needs are met or exceeded, enabling current and future successes. Smart, successful retailers are anticipating the future needs of consumers and are laying the groundwork to meet those needs.
Lids Sports Group, a former client of Zimmerman and my last post before joining Zimmerman, understood what customers wanted and was awarded (for the second year in a row) a first-place ranking as an Omni-Channel leader in Total Retail’s Top 100 Omni-Channel Retailers Report. I look at this achievement fondly, but can’t help asking – had we been anchored in Unified Commerce more than we were in Omni-Channel Commerce, just how big, could big have been? I invite you to provide your customers with a seamless, streamlined buying experience that will keep them coming back, by exploring the Unified Commerce possibilities with the Zimmerman team.
Don’t think your customers won’t realize that all of your touchpoints aren’t completely unified in their customer journey. They are more educated, incentivized, with more choices than ever. They won’t hesitate to go elsewhere if their purchase journey isn’t perfect.