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Retailers prepare for unified commerce

News, 28 September 2015

BOSTON: Nearly four-fifths (78%) of leading North American retailers expect to have a unified commerce platform, or a seamless customer experience across channels, up and running within the next five years, a new report has revealed.

Unified commerce tracks consumers' interactions across all channels, both physical and online, and is designed to enhance the customer experience through personalisation and effective use of data.

According to the 2015 E-Commerce Survey conducted by Boston Retail Partners, it appears that a significant majority of top retailers in the region recognise that such a platform is crucial and are taking steps to implement one in the near future.

As the industry adapts to heightened consumer expectations, the survey confirmed the trend with 43% of retailers saying that providing a consistent brand experience across channels is one of their top priorities.

A similar proportion (45%) regard mobile websites as their most important ecommerce capability while a full 85% anticipate their ecommerce revenue to increase next year.

In addition, almost two-thirds (63%) of retailers plan to accept Apple Pay within two years in recognition that flexible payment options and security are essential.

Commenting on the report, Brian Brunk, principal at Boston Retail Partners, said: "Retailers realise that that they can no longer operate from within silos, and the convergence of digital and physical commerce is now a retail imperative.

"Unified commerce transcends channels and enables store associates to personalise the experience to a customer based on her digital footprint.

"It is encouraging to see that so many retailers have implemented or will implement a unified commerce platform within the next five years.”

However, he told Luxury Daily that some retailers are still missing out on opportunities to boost sales by improving their personalised service.

Product reviews, for example, are underused on retail ecommerce sites. Citing a survey by UPS, he said 73% of consumers found product reviews to be influential, but the survey by Boston Retail Partners indicates that 39% of retailers still do not offer them on their websites.

"Guided selling represents another great opportunity for immersive customer engagement and a brand distinguishing experience," he said.

Data sourced from Boston Retail Partners, Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff