Unified Commerce vs. Omnichannel

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Unified Commerce vs. Omni-channel Commerce

Unified commerce. It’s been called “the new mantra for retailers,” “the next wave in marketing,” and simply, “a must.” According to a recent survey, 78% of retailers plan to implement a unified commerce strategy within the next five years.

Most multi-channel retailers already know they should do it. So the question now is: what is it?

If unified commerce is where the bar has been set, it’s important to know what it truly means to achieve unified commerce so you can understand the direction in which your competition is striving.

However, because so many retailers today are taking a multi-channel approach, there are a ton of buzzwords floating around the industry, many of which are used interchangeably. The distinction between related approaches like unified, multi-channel, cross-channel, and omni-channel commerce may be a subtle difference in definition – but it can make a huge difference in the success of your business.

What’s the difference between omni-channel, multi-channel, cross-channel, and unified commerce?

To help you out, we provide a brief outline of each of these concepts below:

  • Omni-channel commerce is a term that is used in a variety of ways. It is often used to describe experiences in which the customer interacts with more than one channel at the same time, such as using Twitter while watching television or using your mobile device while in a store. Omni-channel also describes the consistency between channels that improves the efficiency of the call-to-action and customer experience across channels. For instance, marketing efforts aimed at customers on Amazon or via e-mail might have been created based on interests the customer expressed via their behavior on a past visit to your site. Or a customer may go into a store and have the sales associate look up the number of loyalty points they have earned during online shopping.
  • Multi-channel commerce refers to a company, activity, platform, or customer experience that incorporates multiple sales and media channels. For instance, you might sell your products on your website, a mobile app, via a call center, in stores, on Amazon, and on Ebay, all while communicating with customers via many types of devices and social media channels. You utilize multiple sales and marketing channels to sell your products and, therefore, you’re a multi-channel vendor.
  • Cross-channel commerce is the strategic maximization of customer relationships via the introduction of new channels beyond the one that originally engaged the user. Basically, cross-channel just means a customer interacted with more than one of your channels during the process of making a purchase. A customer will always come to you via one channel. Your job in cross-channel marketing and retail is to get them to plug into other channels, too. By allowing them to interact with your brand on their terms, you can increase their trust in and awareness of your brand – and, more important, the likeliness of conversions and sales.

So a multi-channel retailer might take cross-channel and/or omni-channel approaches to engaging their customers and prospects.

But the point we are trying to demonstrate here in clarifying these definitions of these terms is not so much what these terms mean, but what they don't mean.

A retailer that has read their company should strive for a unified commerce approach might think, “well, we do that” – when they don’t. They are really a multi-channel company taking an omni-channel approach with cross-channel marketing methods.

But when it comes to unified commerce, there is a big difference.

The New Standard: Taking Multi-Channel, Cross-Channel, and Omni-Channel Commerce to the Unified Commerce Level

Companies that have truly achieved unified commerce have managed to technologically integrate all of their business functions, channels, and data in a way that makes a huge difference to the customer experience – and sales and conversion rates.

After only a few instances of interaction, it’s usually pretty obvious whether or not the company has achieved unified commerce. The level of service, responsive marketing and communications, and personalized experience a unified company can deliver is simply unparalleled. This is because all actions are strategically automated based on comprehensive real-time data collected from across all channels and functions within the organization, which have been seamlessly integrated for optimum performance.

Unified commerce simply cannot be achieved by using many different systems for different business functions. This type of approach is too cumbersome and cannot give the 360 visibility of company performance necessary for unified commerce.

Companies that achieve unified commerce have an unquestionable edge over their competitors. At GoECart, we help retailers achieve that edge by providing one unified commerce platform that allows them to accomplish cross-channel marketing, advanced inventory management (IMS), strategic shopping cart functionality, high-level customer relationship management (CRM), warehousing, order management, multi-channel fulfillment, reporting and analytics, in-store POS, and so much more – all from a single, seamlessly integrated dashboard.

A unified commerce approach takes all of your company’s efforts to the next level – to an ultimate level involving flawless integration of all sales and media channels, all business functions, all people, and all locations. There are many reasons why it is better to manage all your business processes from one dashboard . . . the biggest of which is: unified commerce saves you huge amounts of time and money.

Unified commerce is the undisputed new gold standard in multi-channel retailing. And if you want to succeed, it should be your standard. We encourage you to call GoECart at 877.243.3612 to learn more. We look forward to walking you through how to establish unified commerce for your business.