Retailer interest in unified commerce exceeds implementation

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
BOPIS concept
Retailers want to support ominchannel activities like BOPIS with unified commerce.

Most retailers are pursuing a unified commerce strategy, but many are not that far along.

That according to a  survey of more than 300 retail executives in the U.S., U.K., and Canada from Bain and Aptos which indicates that 45% of respondents lack a strategic roadmap to guide their investments in unified commerce and ensure that their organization is creating value from the changes implemented.

However, 75% of respondents said they consider investing in unified commerce important or very important. As defined by the survey, unified commerce involves deploying retail technology to provide a seamless customer experience across all sales channels and customer touchpoints.

Almost all (99%) respondents believe a well-executed unified commerce strategy has an impact on overall profitability (73% cite a large to significant impact), and 100% see an impact on overall sales revenue (with 76% citing a large to significant impact).

Nearly 100% of respondents also believe that a well-executed unified commerce strategy has an impact on increased purchase sizes, reduced operating costs, preserved margins in the last mile, higher customer conversion rates, the ability to attract new customers, higher customer loyalty, improved cross-channel customer experience, improved employee experience, more reliable inventory management, more reliable supply chain operations, increased upselling and cross-selling, and reduced lost sales.

More than 60% of respondents said they have implemented in-store technologies to enable unified commerce. Among the technologies they cited as contributing most to the in-store experience were POS technology (with 70% of executives attributing significant impact), inventory management (70%), and order-management solutions (65%).

Looking at individual in-store unified commerce technologies respondents have implemented or plan to implement, popular solutions include ship from store (75% have implemented/12% plan to implement), BOPIS (74%/14%), buy online return in store (BORIS – 72%/16%), endless aisle (71%/17%), reserve online pick up in store (ROPIS – 65%/18%), and in-store mobile checkout (60%/22%).

However, only 42% of respondents said they believe their physical stores are prepared to support unified commerce. According to Bain and Aptos analysis, this represents a significant disconnect between the investments retailers are making and their ambition to deliver on unified commerce.

The survey also found that 75% of respondents have ambitious unified commerce strategies, but only about 55% consider those strategies clear and well-defined. Most respondents have instituted some unified commerce use cases, but only about 45% believe they have the tools and resources to execute on unified commerce, and only half believe their current technology is adequate to support their unified commerce ambitions.

[Read more: Marks & Spencer unifies enterprise omnichannel operations]

Surveyed retailers’ annual revenue is no less than $150 million. Most respondents cited earnings between $150 million and $50 billion in annual revenue.

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