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Making a case for unified commerce


Centralized operating platforms help retailers become digitally competitive, according to Jimmy Duvall, chief product officer of BigCommerce. Duvall told Chain Store Age that integrated platforms are key for brands that want to deliver exceptional, targeted customer experiences.

What trends are changing the game for omnichannel retailers — especially those that are not digitally native?

The last several years brought a shift in consumers’ shopping mentality and buying habits. Today’s online consumers are far more mobile, and they demand more streamlined site experiences and simplified payment options that make shopping on smart devices easier.

Meanwhile, the impact social media has on today’s digital shopper cannot be understated. A BigCommerce survey showed that 75% of SMBs found platforms like Facebook and Instagram have the highest potential for generating sales, making it clear that consumers are receptive to brand messaging within social networks if they are perceived as a value-add rather than a disruption.

What are the top capabilities that retailers need in order to be an omnichannel destination?

To stay competitive, retailers must adapt to the shopping preferences of their customers. Increasingly, customers want personalized shopping experiences across channels, which is only possible by understanding their buyer journey. To enable this, retailers need functionality that extends beyond single transactions so they can deliver targeted touches along the buyer journey.

On the back end, it’s crucial to have integrated systems for customer data, inventory levels/locations, and orders as the transaction could happen anywhere (marketplaces, online store, social channel, physical store).

On the front end, delivering branded experiences across these channels is key. Serving ads based on shopping history, targeted videos from product pages, abandoned-cart emails with discount codes, and even direct mail are all touchpoints along the shopper journey that embody and deliver a true omnichannel experience.

What are the biggest challenges facing retailers in their quest to be omnichannel and integrated?

Retailers need a broad presence in order to maximize brand visibility and sales potential, but getting started as an omnichannel retailer today remains too complex. Beyond set-up, there’s an increased level of planning that accompanies omnichannel selling in order to define the company’s approach on each channel.

The most successful brands define this early on to achieve differentiation through pricing, merchandising, expert curation, and more. This allows them more time to focus on overcoming the additional obstacles that selling on marketplaces can present, including limited control over the customer relationship, company branding and access to consumer data.

How can BigCommerce help in the retailer’s omnichannel journey?

Rather than avoid omnichannel altogether, retailers should look for an e-commerce platform that has native omnichannel capabilities, and can minimize onboarding time and eliminate complexity.

Platforms like BigCommerce can reduce the time required to get started on other channels from days to minutes. Through native integrations with eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, BigCommerce has made it easy for merchants to list and sell cross-channel while managing listings, orders and inventory through a central console. This alone saves countless hours wasted switching between disparate systems and interfaces.

If you had to give advice to retailers looking toward a unified commerce experience, what would it be?

With 55% of consumers beginning product searches on Amazon, retailers should consider selling on marketplaces (including Google Shopping and eBay) to build brand visibility with a new audience. Leveraging technologies like BigCommerce, retailers can now easily test product listings across a variety of sales channels without adding financial or operational costs, helping them better understand customer preferences.

Each shopping channel attracts a unique set of shoppers, so retailers should also look for tools that can customize merchandise’s presence to accommodate each channel’s specific requirements. This includes capabilities that enable you to tweak the product’s name, price, options and description based on channel best practices.

Retailers should also focus on delivering exceptional and targeted customer experiences. Since this cannot be achieved by using separate tools, merchants need a single platform that provides a unified view of shoppers across all channels they are using to discover and buy products.

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