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Understanding Unified Commerce Solutions

Yoav Kutner, CEO and Co-Founder, Oro Inc., looks at the technology behind unified eCommerce, the different approaches you can take in creating the unified experience and how to craft a strategy that meets your eCommerce goals.

Today’s customers discover items on their mobile device, go on their desktop to perform research, chat with a sales rep for additional information, and look for the option to inspect or return items at a physical location.

In other words, while buyers embrace eCommerce, they still value physical locations and they expect on- and off-line experiences to be connected. Virtually all buyers of big-ticket items research products online, but in-store buyers are two times more likely to pull out their wallets.

According to data by Ayden, 50% of unified commerce retailers saw transactions remain consistent during the pandemic. While eCommerce is booming, less than half of buyers are shopping online more than before the pandemic and the challenges of the last two years have highlighted the importance of connected customer experiences.

Modern eCommerce systems rarely work in isolation – they’ve become a critical business component connecting multiple business assets such as the website, mobile applications, third-party marketplaces, fulfilment providers and point of sale systems in retail locations. According to Gartner forecasts, by 2023 a typical digital commerce experience will be assembled from more than 30 integrated applications, and over half the entire cost of digital commerce platforms will be attributed to system integration.

As with any new technology, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and lose sight of your real business needs. Unified eCommerce in particular, is taking the commerce world over by storm. It’s a strategy and technology approach that’s just as applicable to B2C eCommerce as to B2B and B2X commerce brands.

What Is Unified eCommerce and How Is It Different?

As customer journeys get more complex, engaging customers with siloed or poorly connected platforms will only become more challenging. A unified commerce platform removes the complexity of disparate platforms and processes and enables data to travel where needed. The result is a frictionless shopping experience on the front end supported by efficient back end operations.

As eCommerce experiences evolve, so do the technologies enabling the experience. For example, if a business pursues an omnichannel strategy with an outdated monolithic platform, customers receive inconsistent inventory, product, and fulfilment data.

It frustrates returning customers when they are not recognized and no one appreciates receiving the wrong stock information or irrelevant promotional material.

Different Approaches to Unified Commerce Technology

Digital commerce vendors that offer unified eCommerce experiences may offer all-in-one platforms, complete with features required to match multiple use cases or microservice platforms that allow you to connect individual components built for specific needs, such as CRM, shipping, or inventory management.

Both approaches deliver a unified eCommerce experience, but they each have their own challenges. There is still another approach that has the flexibility of microservices yet lower total cost of ownership and faster time to market of all-in-one solutions, – the modular approach. 

OroCommerce Enables Unified eCommerce with Modular Architecture

Oro believes that for businesses to be truly customer-centric, they must evolve and adapt to changing customer needs. That’s why we offer our customers the flexibility to choose best-of-breed software focused on a particular task.

In other words, customers can compose and implement modules in line with their requirements or not use them at all if there’s no need.

OroCommerce is an industry-leading modular B2B eCommerce software that also supports B2C and B2X commerce scenarios on a single platform. The platform comes with up to 80% of core B2B eCommerce functionality that companies need to launch successfully, which guarantees a quick time to market.  With Oro’s open-source, API-first, and modular architecture, the other 20% is easily customised. 

Oro users can fine-tune various elements of their B2B eCommerce business to match their needs. They enjoy a shorter time to market, more resources for innovation and growth, and the ability to offer a unified customer experience across all devices and touchpoints.

With OroPlatform as a base, OroCocommerce offers the industry’s leading core B2B eCommerce functionality on a platform that is easily modified and built upon. Avoid vendor lock-in and future-proof your business with a flexible and scalable architecture that adapts to changing needs and customer demands.

How Do You Create a Unified eCommerce Strategy?

A unified eCommerce strategy requires careful research, planning, and the whole organisation must be behind the initiative. Most importantly, it requires a strong focus on unifying back-office and customer-facing processes to reach your unified customer experience goals.

Examine the Existing Customer Experience

Before using technology to design the desired customer experience, make sure you understand every detail of the experience you want to offer. Take the time to design customer journeys that work seamlessly across all touchpoints and address your customers’ unique needs.

Let’s take the retail industry as an example. It’s not uncommon for customers to look up a product on a retail website, see that it’s available in a nearby store and then find it’s out-of-stock when they come to buy it. With a unified retail commerce approach, the product database is continuously updated. This means that merchants can avoid creating bad experiences like the one described above and retain more customers.

Think Data-Centric and Vendor-Agnostic

Don’t start your unified eCommerce journey with an eCommerce platform that forces you to make adjustments and compromises in your own business processes. Concentrate on your business needs, and craft your data and technology strategy around your business.

Assess the Current Technology Situation

Unified commerce is about dismissing siloed and inefficient business processes. But it doesn’t mean you must throw everything out. Analyse your existing technology stack and craft your eCommerce integration strategy around what works. Your goal should be increased efficiency, scalability, and most importantly – the freedom and flexibility to innovate for a unified customer experience.

A Customer-Centric Approach Future-Proofs Your Business

Shoppers are looking to connect in as many ways as possible. Don’t be held back by a digital commerce platform that doesn’t extend beyond desktop and mobile when customers want to interact using physical stores, digital screens, and AR, VR, and IoT devices.

A unified commerce strategy places the customer front and centre and future-proofs your business. It breaks down the walls between internal data silos and customer-facing channels, blurring the lines between online and offline. Businesses benefit from increased agility, flexibility, and staying connected with customers. Customers complete their purchases, moving from channel to channel and avoiding friction, and enjoy the experience so much they purchase again and again. 

While there are many convincing reasons for choosing one of many unified eCommerce solutions on the market, do your research and familiarise yourself with their drawbacks as well. Review your customer experience goals, business needs, and readiness, and choose a solution that addresses today’s challenges and provides the ability to adapt to whatever tomorrow may bring.