Change agents, the democratization of retail

The Green Sheet – Five years ago omnichannel commerce was more an expectation-laden buzzword than reality. Major retailers were the first to jump in, learning through trial and error how to deliver seamless experiences for consumers traversing channel lines. Today the unified commerce journey still has potholes to fill, but progress inches forward.

Soaring smartphone adoption has made these devices an indispensable tool not just for communication but to connect with brands in meaningful ways at any point along the commerce journey. Many are calling it the democratization of retail, driven by the masses who now wield the mobile power to decide instantaneously whether a brand is worthy. Understanding the customer journey and how to optimize it has never been more crucial.

Unifying siloed systems, especially legacy systems, has not been easy. A recent survey of merchants by Boston Retail Partners revealed just 18 percent had implemented a unified commerce platform, and a majority felt system improvements were needed (see accompanying Unified Commerce Services chart, from the BRP Special Report: Unified Commerce is the Goal, “Faux” Omni-channel is the Reality!)

“The customers don’t think about channels,” said Brian Brunk, Principal at BRP. “When we shop with a retailer we’re shopping a brand. We’re looking for products; we’re looking for service. We’re not thinking about interacting with them online or on mobile; we’re just shopping.”

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