The digital transformation of retail is accelerating. And, because advanced retail technology has become accessible for nearly any retailer, this is a rare moment where independent chains have a window to even the playing field.

Retailers that already had sound digital strategies are pulling technology projects forward multiple years. Others are just scrambling to keep up with evolving consumer expectations. And everyone is talking about omnichannel retail and unified commerce — and often conflating the two terms.

In this post, I offer definitions of omnichannel retail and unified commerce. And, we’ll explore the crucial differences between the two retail concepts.

Omnichannel Retail vs. Unified Commerce

TechTarget Network defines omnichannel as “a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick-and-mortar store. An omnichannel approach means there’s integration between distribution, promotion and communication channels on the back end.”

Many retailers claim to be omnichannel, but because their systems and operations are not integrated at every level, they are not providing the seamless experiences that consumers demand. This presents a game-changing opportunity for independent retailers who can move quickly.

Unified Commerce is fulfilling the promise of a frictionless shopping experience that today’s consumers demand. It is enabled through truly interconnected systems and a single source of the truth – your unified commerce platform.

This platform drives a unified commerce ecosystem from one database, updated in real-time, and leverages data collection points that span operations and customer interactions. Products, stock, order status, and other data are constantly shared across channels, allowing for an exceptionally efficient and relevant shopping journey with data, analytics, and automation at the core.

Unified commerce enables the omnichannel experiences that retailers have been promising for years and more. In addition, it positions retailers with the agility to meet ever-evolving consumer expectations.

Many retailers claim to be omnichannel, but because their systems and operations are not integrated at every level, they are not providing the seamless experiences that consumers demand. This presents a game-changing opportunity for independent retailers who can move quickly

Customers are Demanding Unified Commerce

Today’s consumers shop across channels. Most sales still involve stores, and online channels influence most in-store purchases. Consumers seek a unified experience — a frictionless path through the channels of their choosing, with one up-to-date view of product information, stock positions, and purchase history. The pandemic turned these expectations into must-haves, and they are here to stay.

Yet many retailers have been challenged to deliver essential omnichannel services, such as reliable in-store pickup and return of online purchases. For example, the RIS’ 2021 Annual Retail Technology Study found that only 40% of retailers offer in-store pickup and return of web goods, and another 33% are now implementing the service. In contrast, those with unified commerce capabilities delivered such enhancements within weeks of the 2020 shutdown and have continued to innovate since.

Change the Game by Finding Your Unified Commerce Solution

Today, a unified commerce platform is within reach for almost any retailer. From pet specialty to hardware, from books to electronics, independent retailers are replacing their old cobbled software stack and implementing cloud-based unified commerce platforms. With immediate ROI and continuous enhancements included, this is positioning retailers with the agility needed for long-term success.

FieldStack’s retail management system is the unified commerce platform of choice for independent retailers who want to grow. It is built on lean retail principles and integrates point of sale, eCommerce, and loyalty with automated chain-wide inventory and analytics. I invite you to reach out for a FieldStack demonstration.

In our upcoming posts, we will continue to explore unified commerce, looking at:

  • Stories about the impact that unified commerce is having
  • The specific benefits for independent retailers
  • How you can quickly transform your chain into a unified commerce operation for immediate ROI
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Data Driven Retail in 2021benefits of unified commerce for independent retailers