Manhattan Associates (credit images/Pixabay/Gerd Altmann)Manhattan Associates has formed a partnership with Google Cloud and Zebra Technologies, to publish the findings of the industry’s first real-world analysis of Unified Commerce in speciality retail. The Unified Commerce Benchmark for Specialty Retail, conducted by Incisiv, assessed 124 retailers across 11 speciality retail segments. The report covers the implementation of 286 key attributes of Unified Commerce.

The report is based on insight from real purchases, returns, and customer journeys across digital and physical channels. The benchmark reveals the common attributes of successful retailers and the opportunities for others to improve their customer value and modernise operations. Of the 124 retailers benchmarked, 15 emerged as leaders. These brands are Academy Sports + Outdoors, American Eagle Outfitters, Belk Inc., Crate & Barrel, Levi’s, Macy’s, MAC Cosmetics, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Pandora, REI Co-op, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, UGG and Zales.

Unified Commerce solutions combine a retailer’s front-end and back-end systems to establish a single view of the business. That single view informs better decision-making and enhanced customer experiences while enabling brands to identify and respond to trends quickly. The report suggests this ultimately drives stronger revenue growth by up to 6X. However, consolidating systems and building a cohesive Unified Commerce solution can be quite challenging.

Common Challenges

The benchmark identified the following common challenges in retailers’ efforts to adopt this new model:

  • Personalisation – Retailers must be able to identify shopper intent and curate a personalised experience that meets their expectations. However, only 38% of the retailers give store associates access to shopper purchase history and wish lists across all channels. Only 20% of the retailers studied provided personalized product recommendations and offers. As a category, digitally-native vertical brands (DNVBs) outperformed the broader retail cohort in this area, with 42% offering advanced personalization capabilities. This was 16 points ahead of the overall group examined.
  • Real-Time Inventory Visibility – Visibility into allocatable and saleable inventory and rich findability are critical for retailers wanting to provide a seamless omnichannel experience. Only 29% of the retailers studied provide real-time inventory statistics on their product detail pages.
  • Convenience and Flexibility – Increasingly, convenience is about more than just speed of delivery. Convenience encompasses providing multiple payment and delivery options and the ability to make changes to an order after the sale. Only 15% of the retailers studied provided the option to change the fulfilment method post-order confirmation. Only 27% of the retailers provided the ability to return store purchases online.

The importance of inventory availability

(Credit image/LinkedIn/Eddie Capel)
Manhattan Associates president and CEO, Eddie Capel

“Shoppers don’t see channels the way retailers do. Unified Commerce can only provide highly customised shopping experience expected by consumers if there is true visibility of inventory availability. In addition to the flexibility during and after the sale,” said Manhattan Associates president and CEO, Eddie Capel. “Embracing a Unified Commerce model can drive strong business growth, high revenue opportunity. Furthermore, it can lead to competitive advantage and heightened customer loyalty that every retailer covets. With the right technology and solutions, they can outperform their peers by as much as six times.”

According to Bill Burns, Chief Executive Officer, Zebra Technologies. “This new benchmark highlights the important role that real-time inventory visibility, front-line worker enablement, and fulfilment flexibility play in driving Unified Commerce. This demonstrates that we have the right solutions to deliver these benefits.”

In order to deliver on the promise of Unified Commerce, retailers must connect digital and in-person experiences, and all of the data and systems that enable them,” said Carrie Tharp, VP of Retail and Consumer at Google Cloud. “Manhattan Associates’ partnership with Google Cloud on this benchmark shows how retailers can make it easy for customers and store associates to find the right products online and instore by implementing a unified commerce strategy backed by data and AI.”

Giri Agarwal, Chief Strategy Officer at Incisiv commented: “Unified Commerce is the new battleground for retailers to differentiate themselves. Our 2023 Unified Commerce Benchmark shows that leaders who have adopted unified commerce deliver highly nuanced, seamless customer experiences across channels, leveraging technology and data to drive revenue growth. The insights from this benchmark won’t just help retailers keep up, it will help them stand out.”

Enterprise Times: What this means for business.

This is an interesting report which covers several trends in this new age of consumerism and its impact on reshaping commerce. The benchmark analysis of real purchases and returns, across digital and physical customer journeys is insightful. The report headline finds Unified Commerce leaders outperform competitors by as much as 6X in revenue growth. This is not surprising. In today’s rapidly evolving ecosystem, retailers need complete visibility on and insight into every aspect of their business, from back-end to customer-facing.

Unified commerce technology offers consumers a consistent and seamless omnichannel experience across all channels. Whether customers are shopping online, in-store, or through a mobile device. Its goal is the seamless fusing of all channels to create a singular experience for the customer. This includes searching and ordering online and picking up or delivering from a store. Engaging the contact centre directly from a ship confirmation text, giving customers control of post-purchase options from their mobile device. The problem for many retailers is that a growing variety of selling, engagement, and fulfilment expectations have made delivering those omnichannel commerce experiences increasingly more difficult.



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