Why are Retailers Laser Focused on Unified Commerce?

Retail Partners (BRP) conducted the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of top North American retailers to understand what retailers are currently undertaking to enhance the customer experience and the current state and future plans of unified commerce. This blog post highlights the key findings.

Retail is more complicated than ever! The customer journey is never a linear process – customers want to quickly and easily move across channels to research, shop, and interact with your brand and they expect their journey to be personalized. To complicate this further, the mobilization of retail has spurred the convergence of the digital and physical experience – creating the need for real-time retail. The key to meeting elevated customer expectations is to create a consistent, personalized and satisfying shopping experience wherever, whenever and however they shop. Delivering on that experience requires a different approach that sets the stage for unified commerce.

“The customer journey can be simple or complex and can be different for each customer and each individual purchase. It’s not important that what we have specific labels for these scenarios, like webrooming or showrooming, but simply that we understand that the customer journey is one that is very dynamic and as retailers we have the opportunity to optimize and enhance this experience to drive increased customer loyalty. This is why “start anywhere, end anywhere” cross-channel capabilities are so important, like enabling a unified or shared shopping cart across channels,” said Brian Brunk, principal, Boston Retail Partners.

“Over the last several months we have read stories that indicate malls and traditional in-store retail are dead; however, in reality, retailers like ZARA and Apple are thriving in many of the same mall locations,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “The key difference between retail ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ is the customer experience. Going forward, retail success will be dependent on delivering an exceptional customer experience and without it, retailers will fail.”


2016 Unified Commerce Report CoverKey findings in the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey include:

  • 51% of retailers indicate that creating a seamless and optimized experience across channels is a top priority this year
  • 44% of retailers state that increasing customer loyalty is a focus for the next 12 months
  • 75% of retailers plan to have a single commerce platform within 3 years
  • Nearly 90% of retailers plan to have as part of their unified commerce platform, centralized inventory management, order management system and integrated CRM
  • 89% of retailers indicate that within three years social media will be the predominant forum for interaction with the brand
  • At least 75% of retailers plan to have mobile apps for associates and customers within three years

Download the complete survey report:  2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey

A special thanks goes out to all of the sponsors of the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey: Aptos (platinum), Experian Data Quality (gold), Fujitsu (gold), Manhattan Associates (gold), NCR (gold), PCMS (gold), Radial (gold), and Enactor (silver).

As always, I appreciate your feedback on the this survey report.  I hope you enjoy it!


As retail thought leaders and trusted advisors, our executives’ opinions and insights are often solicited by leading publications and associations for articles and speaking engagements.

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