I haven’t been able to sleep well as of late. Why? Because of the excitement around all the possibilities Unified Commerce offers brands, but more so the opportunity it provides you, me, and the consumers that experience what brands have to offer daily.
For context, Unified Commerce is the strategy, implementation, and actions that allow brands to have a dialogue with their customers, within the channel of preference. Unified Commerce takes omnichannel ideologies and supercharges them to where consumers are in the driver’s seat regarding what content, products, and experiences they want to have.
Simply put, Unified Commerce tracks all behaviors that customers have – from opening an email to buying a product at a retail store front to conversations they may have with store associates and sellers to make additional purchases through digital buying channels. All these behaviors are not purchases; they are interactions. They aren’t sales, they are connections.
Based upon these behaviors, future experiences are tailored to me, the consumer, and not anyone else. Sure, I may look like other customers, but a true unified commerce approach leverages technology to serve up personalized, curated experiences, content, and products that are likely to resonate with who I am.
So, with all that said – where should you start? What technology systems are needed for Unified Commerce? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Choosing a Global Software Development Partner to Accelerate Your Digital Strategy
To be successful and outpace the competition, you need a software development partner that excels in exactly the type of digital projects you are now faced with accelerating, and in the most cost effective and optimized way possible.
Here are the four foundational technology categories that are needed to build the foundation for a unified commerce approach for your brand.
The foundation of any digital or physical experience will always be the engine that drives transactions and orders. Think of digital commerce platforms as the hub of the wheel, where everything else helps to support the ultimate goal, transactions, and revenue. When looking to venture down the Unified path, it’s critical to make sure your current commerce platform can support a composable approach, leveraging APIs and other integration touchpoints to share customer information between the systems below.
Depending on your use case, it may be beneficial to leverage a Content Management System (CMS) as the front end of your digital commerce experience, or the glass if you will. This “traditional headless” approach will still leverage the commerce engine as the back-end motor to drive revenue, where the CMS is running the front-end experiences. With this approach, you can offer enhanced personalization to your customers based on their behaviors and preferences. But (and this is a big but) to do this effectively, you’ll need to leverage the next foundational element.
CRM / CDP
Flying a plane is only effective if you have the right data and inputs to set your heading and course. The same holds when trying to personalize customer experiences. Once you’ve built your Commerce and CMS connection, you need to give this experience the data needed to know what products, content, or elements to tee up for each unique customer that shops with you. That’s where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and a Customer Data Platform (CDP) come in. You’ve likely heard of CRMs – they’re quite popular with sales associates who are meeting with your customers. It allows the sales or customer service reps to enter key information about customer needs, wants, or interests. A CDP is focused on the aggregation of customer data from multiple channels and sources, which in turn can be leveraged to tee up personalized experiences. I’ve listed these two together because though they both are similar; they complete the circle of customer data. When integrated with a commerce and CMS experience, the personalized range of features that can be built is endless.
Finally, to complete this unified approach, you must integrate your email and SMS systems to re-target customers based on the inputs they are providing your brand through the above-mentioned technologies. Email and SMS systems can be cued up with relevant content, products, and experiences that can be sent to your customers in the right channel, at the right time, and with the right message. If done correctly, these platforms help nurture customers through their buying cycles and will yield higher customer lifetime values and affinity.
Here’s the thing. On paper, Unified Commerce seems pretty straightforward, and to a degree, it is. However, getting these systems to synchronize and harmonize the buying experience for customers needs to be handled with a surgical-type focus.
It all should start with assessing your current state. What can be leveraged from a technological standpoint? Where might you need to invest to realize this unified approach? Once you have this technological inventory defined – you’ll be able to see the road you need to travel to reach the destination of unified commerce excellence.
As Confucius so elegantly put it, “Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” – the road to unified commerce is and will always be a journey. It will never be complete, there is no destination. If you can embrace the idea that this journey will never be complete, then you have embraced the idea and mindset that evolution within commerce will always be – and your customers will not only thank you for that but continue to travel the road you’ve paved for them.
To see how unified commerce could benefit your business, reach out to a commerce team member!