Multichannel retailers face an existential crisis. Customers’ buying behaviors and lifestyle choices are changing. Competitive pressures from disruptive, pure-play e-commerce players and new physical retailing models are causing radical changes to antiquated business models, driving down prices and driving up costs. Gartner’s retail clients are rightfully concerned about how to accomplish the herculean task of transforming a traditional, multichannel retailer into a digitally enabled provider of unified retail commerce
To combat market share erosion and take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital, multichannel retailers need to recognize that their extensive network of stores can be part of an effective, unified commerce strategy. Unified retail commerce demands that retailers of all types engage in digital business transformation built on a foundation of customer understanding.
Gartner describes unified retail commerce as providing a customer-centric experience, based on how customers approach shopping, with no limitations by channel:
- Browse — Enables customers to find what they need, as well as discover new and different products and services that will enhance their lifestyles. Provided by stores and online channels, as well as mobile, social, IoT-enabled devices, AI and augmented reality working together to deliver an immersive shopping experience.
- Transact — Enables a seamless capability for the customer to transact within and across channels, regardless of the product or the combination of products and services, without inconvenience or delays. Provided through modern, interconnected POS applications, mobile applications and the excellent customer-facing execution of processes.
- Acquire — Enables the customer to acquire goods and services with a variety of methods, including physical shopping, click and collect, in-home delivery, automated replenishment, and lockers, as well as partnerships with external organizations. This is provided by executing highly flexible fulfillment models, including traditional, in-store shopping and many last-mile delivery options.
- Consume — Enables customers’ enjoyment and enhances their consumption experience. Provided through enhanced information and services, connected devices, autoreplenishment, and voice-enabled interactions.
Illustrated here as an infinity loop, the intersection of these four customer processes is the focal point of a customer-centric experience.
Unified retail commerce involves understanding how customers are using technology in their everyday living, then deploying technology that makes their lives simpler, better, easier and safer. Unity will drive transformation when retailers, suppliers, third-party services and customers can collaborate to build an effective ecosystem centered on delivering exceptional customer-centric experiences.
Gartner clients can learn more about coverage of this important topic for retailers here:
Transforming From Multichannel to Unified Retail Commerce Primer for 2018