The concept of driving sales through a process of awareness to consideration to engagement to conversion to loyalty has been long embraced by retailers and brand managers alike. With the evolution of the retail industry, the view of the customer and their journey is evolving and maturing. A more circular view of the commerce equation is now in favor as single channel brands matured into multi-channel, then omni-channel and now unified commerce retailers. The idea is the same, finding customers to convert sales. However, while the customer mindset is similar, the business model and digital maturity level have drastically changed.
With digital evolution came a consumer empowerment that fundamentally uprooted the retail business model. Creating a product or offering a service, telling an audience about it and incenting purchase was once a linear sequence of steps. Now, with consumers having endless choices across multiple devices and sales platforms, retailers must adapt to a more agile way to not only enable purchases but to support the entire customer journey.
Consider the systems needed to operate a single store. Now fast forward to a chain of stores existing alongside your brand being sold through wholesale channels, marketplaces, social platforms, pop-up/event spaces, ecommerce sites, live streaming and entertainment venues, through affiliate partnerships and beyond. Everything from order management to digital experience to store experience to customer service needs to be reinvented to support an expanded multi-verse of commerce.
- BOPIS (buy online and pick-up in store) quickly evolved into BOPAC (at curb) and an array of alternate options to ship from store, from warehouse, across channels and everything in reverse.
- Customers had expectations that any engagement with a retailer/brand would be consistent and seamless.
- The new norm was to buy online, return in stores and for shoppers to get the same products, prices and offerings regardless of when and where they shopped.
- Then pile on disparate data systems and collection practices, progressing to privacy mandates and retailers facing the need to quickly adapt to stay competitive.
Defining where you are in your retail evolution is a conversation happening in every organization. Knowing where you are today and, more importantly, where your brand vision needs to be going forward, can be a complex and overwhelming undertaking. Central to it all is your customer and their journey of engaging with you. Having a single view of that customer is critical to evolving your business. Accuracy, transparency, flexibility and speed must all be part of developing a common, centralized view. While many retailers have been focused on patching their systems to allow for expanded channels and services, others have been designing a unified customer-centric platform that provides one single view of the truth. With true Unified Commerce, retailers leverage a single platform, a single view and a single process across channels.
WHERE ARE YOU ON THE UNIFIED COMMERCE MATURITY SCALE?
Due to our work with 300+ leading global retailers over the last two decades, Columbus Consulting has a process that allows us to assess our clients and determine where they are on their unified commerce path and what their next steps need to be to become more optimized. Where are you on the 5-stage commerce maturity model?
- Managed & Measurable
- Unified Optimized
WHY DOES THIS ALL MATTER?
The benefits of achieving a truly unified commerce are vast. Having a single platform and single customer view not only increases the agility of responding to product and customer needs and/or disruptions but enhances performance outcomes.
- From the shopping side, a unified model provides a fully seamless and frictionless experience across physical and digital engagements, creating brand loyalty.
- From the business side, having one common customer view and a single stream of consistent data allows for more accurate insights, greater efficiencies, enabling personalized and target customer engagement, a greater degree of investment impact and a holistic improvement across the organization.
- By connecting and uniting all backend commerce solutions and points of customer engagement into a single stream of transactional truth, retailers can be nimble, anticipate problems, scale solutions and fully embrace the customer journey across devices, channels, platforms and other points of contact. This visibility and control ultimately allow for retailers to optimize their results, scale their brand and self-actualize their competitiveness in the unified commerce market.
ABOUT COLUMBUS CONSULTING
Columbus Consulting delivers solutions that drive true value and have been transforming the retail and CPG industries for over two decades. We are a retail consulting company of industry experts. Our approach is simple, if you do it, we do it. We are more than consultants; we are experienced practitioners who actually sat in our clients’ seats. We understand the challenges, know what questions to ask and deliver the right solutions. Columbus offers a unique, consumer-centric approach with an end-to-end perspective that bridges functional & organization silos from strategy to execution. Our specialties include: unified commerce, merchandising & category management, planning & inventory management, sourcing & supply chain, data & analytics, accounting, finance & operations, people & organization and information technology. Let us know how we can help you. To learn more, visit COLUMBUSCONSULTING.COM
About Katrina Mossman
Katrina is a Managing Partner at Columbus Consulting. She has been consulting for retail clients with Columbus and worked for retail companies for 25+ years. Her responsibilities have included: executive leadership, large-scale program transformation, business and IT strategic analysis, roadmap development, interim leadership, business solution selection, process improvements, system design, Unified Commerce, Digital Transformation, OMS, Ecommerce, CRM, CDP ERP, WMS, Data and Analytics, Infrastructure and Security, HCM (HR/PR), Finance. Katrina has managed, led and provided oversight in the assessment, selection and implementation of Ecommerce, OMS, PIM, DAM, Loyalty, CDP, CRM and other key components of the Unified Commerce Experience.