By Ken Morris
Within five years 75 percent of retailers plan to identify customers when they walk in the store according to Boston Retail Partners 1st CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey. Previously you could rest easy knowing your brand had a presence in multiple channels, both online and offline. Those days are long gone. As the customer’s decision-making process has become the epicenter of retail strategy, unified commerce has emerged as the medium for a holistic customer shopping experience.
The concept of unified commerce is the evolution of both multi-channel and omni-channel retailing that provides a seamless experience in the store, on the Web or anywhere customers choose to shop. Many retailers are now focused on implementing the technologies to deliver unified commerce, but there is still a lot of work to be done to deliver these capabilities. Delivering unified commerce requires seamless execution of the right strategy, technology, and business processes.
The key unified commerce initiatives, such as enhancing customer engagement, collecting and analyzing customer behavior, and personalizing the experience, are the top priorities for retailers, as evidenced by the results from the survey.
Key survey results
- 95 percent of the respondents indicated customer experience/ customer engagement is one of their top three current initiatives
- 3 percent have the ability to identify the customer when she walks in the store, and another 72 percent plan to implement this within five years
- 16 percent currently have real-time retail from POS (which offers the “Amazon” experience in the store) and another 63 percent plan to implement within five years
- 28 percent currently use mobile marketing and another 62 percent plan to implement this within five years (56 percent plan to implement mobile marketing within two years)
- 81 percent have implemented some type of customer database, typically as part of a CRM or loyalty platform
- 22 percent of retailers have implemented real-time analytics and 61 percent plan to implement it within two years.
To deliver the seamless experience, retailers need to gather, analyze and disseminate customer, product, pricing and inventory data in real-time. Leveraging technology, unified commerce provides the platform and real-time retail is key to delivering the experience. Retailers that successfully deliver unified commerce will understand and adopt a “unified” approach for: strategic customer initiatives, technology, business processes and execution.
The 2014 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current state and planned initiatives, priorities, and future trends that relate to customer relationship management (CRM) practices associated with the retail industry’s shift to unified commerce. To download the complete 2014 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey: click here.