Retailers Respond to Connected Consumers with a Unified Commerce Platform

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As changing consumer shopping habits increasingly require centralized technologies across traditional point-of-sale, e-commerce, call center and mobile touch points, many retailers plan to implement a unified commerce platform to consolidate those key elements historically housed in multiple systems.

According to a new study ­– conducted by the National Retail Federation, Ecommerce Europe andEcommerce Foundation in partnership with Demandware — that surveyed nearly 300 U.S., European and Australian retail business and technology executives, 53 percent expect to implement a unified commerce platform in the next few years, up from approximately 50 percent from the year prior. Additionally, over the next 10 years, 86 percent of retailers surveyed plan to implement a unified commerce platform.

“Many retailers are already in the throes of managing the critical changes necessary to keep up with existing retail infrastructure, architecture and applications, and today’s consumers will continue to shape how retail CIOs adjust their commerce and business platforms for years to come,” said NRF Vice President of Retail Technologies Tom Litchford. “Retail IT executives increasingly want a unified commerce platform to bridge the many digital and traditional touch points that customers access to better serve customers, streamline IT operations and improve the bottom line.”

More than two-thirds say a unified commerce platform could improve margins, brand value and revenue
Retailers surveyed anticipate margins, brand value and revenue will improve by unifying their point-of-sale, ecommerce and other consumer-facing platforms. Specifically, the survey found that:

  • More than half (52 percent) foresee significant improvement to controllable items that directly impact margin, including inventory turn and returns
  • Nearly half (46 percent) expect to see increases in brand value, specifically significant improvements due to positive impact on total customer value and their Net Promoter Score
  • Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) believe significant improvements will occur in average order value, promotional redemption and conversion rates

“The results of this research provide further proof of a shift we are seeing in European retailers’ operations,” said Ecommerce Foundation Director Jorij Abraham. “As brands continue the battle for customer mind-and wallet-share, there is a critical need for seamless, integrated front- and back-end systems. Winning European retailers will recognize the benefits of this technology and organizational transformation as they break free from legacy operations approach and test new concepts, bring digital capabilities into the store and change traditional point-of-sale systems — to better manage their omni-channel commerce strategy and drive the bottom line.”

“The findings in the report are consistent with many of our clients’ unified platform strategies,” said Rob Garf, vice president of industry strategy at Demandware. “A growing number of retail clients globally have extended our cloud platform into the store and anticipate noticeable revenue and margin improvements by increasing conversion and optimizing inventory.”

Additionally, retailers surveyed expect that consolidating historically disparate technologies – including point-of-sale, e-commerce, call center and mobile – into a single commerce platform would drive improvements in IT innovation and efficiency. Specifically, two in five (45 percent) retailers surveyed anticipate significant improvement in their ability to meet business demands faster, and another 35 percent say they foresee IT efficiency improvements including data security, maintenance costs and infrastructure.

Retailers are at various stages of the journey towards a fully-implemented unified commerce platform
The study found that seven in 10 (72 percent) retailers are currently planning the transformation to a single commerce platform, whether conducting initial research or already starting to develop the business.

Specifically, 13 percent identified themselves as in the exploration phase or as gathering information and monitoring single platform trends, while 23 percent are actively discussing the viability of a unified commerce platform but have no formal plan in place yet. More than one-third (36 percent) noted that they are developing a formal plan and seeking budget options, and the remaining 22 percent described themselves as already in the execution or realization phases.

Demandware to host special webinar to discuss research results
Additionally, Demandware will host a webinar on February 24 at 11 a.m. ET to dive further into the research and highlight key findings and examples from retailers regarding their unified platform strategies. During the call NRF’s Tom Litchford, BCBGMAXAZRIA’s Alex Golshan, Ecommerce Foundation’s Jorij Abraham and Demandware’s Rob Garf will discuss current trends among retail CIOs and other top research findings. Visit this website for more information.

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