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What is the difference between Unified Commerce and Omnichannel Commerce?

Unified and omnichannel can seem like two sides of the same coin, but it’s not! We will give you the explanation here.

Even though omnichannel businesses deliver great and cohesive customer experiences across channels (webshop, app, physical store, SoMe platforms etc.), backend systems are often unconnected, complicating cross-channel adjustment, limiting the opportunity to offer excellent customer experiences and hindering operational agility across channels.

According to Ayden’s retail report from 2022, 47% of businesses say unified commerce improves customer experiences, and they choose to call it the next level up from omnichannel sales. But what are the tangible differences between omnichannel and unified commerce? Keep reading and you will find out. 

If you have never heard of the omnichannel strategy before, you can read more about it here. 

The difference between Omnichannel and Unified Commerce.

According to the retail report, 70% of consumers will not shop with organizations that offer a lousy shopping experience, either online or in-store. If you are already delivering omnichannel services, don’t worry – you are heading in the right direction. But you might be missing out on the significant number of cross-channel insights available only to truly unified commerce businesses. Because where the omnichannel approach tends to end after a multichannel expansion and frontend alignment, unified commerce is the practice of connecting your backend systems with your customer-facing channels via one single platform. This is the setup companies require to support omnichannel customer journeys and create a unified view of shopper interactions, products, and management systems. Thus, omnichannel is the strategy of aligning the customer experience across all channels, whereas unifined commerce is the practice of actually making that possible. 

Unified commerce lets payments from all your channels — online, in-app, and in-store — feed into the same system. This equals more targeted, data-driven decision-making and a more seamless, flexible customer experience.It also provides the agilityof enabling you to add new channels and support new customer journeys quickly because everything is connected. 

According to the retail report, unified commerce increases businesses’ performance by 9%, amongst other reasons, because it lets you track your business performance across channels and regions, making it possible to make more informed business decisions and prepare for future change. Unified commerce allows you to capture consolidated data insights via one centralized platform. Directly from these insights, you can serve your customers better and adapt your business as needed. 

The components of Unified Commerce.

According to our partner BigCommerce, there are four components of Unified Commerce:  

  1. Systems - Because unified commerce integrates all customer-facing and backend systems via one centralized platform. This way, the entire operation is built on one solid foundation, able to adapt and scale as your business needs, and this makes it much easier to enter new markets, expand to new channels, and integrate emerging technologies. 

  2. Channels - Unifying payments from every channel into one platform makes it easier to securely identify and link shoppers across channels and regions to fulfil better cross-channel purchases, such as click-and-collect options. 

  3. Products - Customers demand a consistent view of products across stores and online channels. At the same time, store staff should have as much knowledge of stock availability as warehouse staff do. According to the retail report, 61% of consumers would be more loyal to a retailer that allows them to buy things online and return in-store and unified commerce offers a broader range of delivery options to your customer. 

  4. Interactions - Unified commerce ensures speed, convenience, consistency, and personalization in customer interactions by securely capturing and centralizing them, making recognizing shoppers across multiple touchpoints easier. This helps build a deeper understanding of your customers'behaviour, which enables you to serve them better.   

Unified commerce is here, and it is about time to join in to avoid being left behind. Because the more channels your shoppers use, the higher their value: 47% of businesses say a benefit of unified commerce is improved customer experience, 46% say it helps increase sales, and 44% say unified commerce increases customer loyalty.

You can read more about the customer- and business benefits of unified commerce here