Interview • 15.02.2018

Unified Commerce: Mapping all processes in real time

Avoid "frustrating stumbling blocks in the shopper experience”

Once it was multichannel, then omnichannel and now unified commerce. With new software options, all the functions of a customer journey are supposed to be apparently invisible and run from a single source. Jean-Marc Thienpont, Managing Director POS Solutions at Adyen explains in an interview why it is important to put oneself into the customer's perspective to positively influence sales, margins and brand value.

Mr. Thienpont, what does the term “unified commerce“ mean?

Simply put, unified commerce is built on omnichannel and takes it to the next level, the next-generation integrated software solution that integrates and maps all areas of the sales and purchasing processes. Whereas omnichannel literally still involves several channels, unified commerce covers all the pertinent processes (payment, CRM, inventory management etc.) and is able to map them in real-time. Instead of using different types of interfaces, retailers only have to work with one platform, which also has great advantages in terms of payment processing. All this simplifies and standardizes the consumer’s shopping experience.

Which customer touchpoints play a part in unified commerce?

In unified commerce, stores are digitized using technology, while payment also plays a key role in this. For example, in-store kiosks can display so-called endless aisle scenarios, allowing retailers to give their customers access to the entire online inventory. If the customer at the store wants a product that is currently not available in-store, this immediately enables the retailer to give a delivery date, offer alternative choices, schedule a pickup date and present complementing options. And all of this across the entire store network. According to Drapers Multichannel Report, an endless aisle implementation can garner a sales increase of up to 14 percent. What’s more, a centralized overview of the customer payment history can also help retailers to better understand their customers and create personalized services.

How can retailers adapt their systems from a technological perspective to reflect this merger?

Major software companies are already introducing their first options in this area and many retailers are likewise planning to implement this type of solution. Payment is a key area where the consolidation of distribution channels and payments drastically shapes the implementation of a successful customer experience. Customers shop brands and don’t think about channels. Why can I only return an online item through the online channel if there is a nearby store? Why is it not possible to order an out of stock item online while I am at the store and then have it sent to my home? Many customers don’t understand the reasoning behind it and rightly so.

What are the respective benefits for retailers?

Retailers can count on their IT to be less burdened, while they also notice a positive impact on their sales, margins and brand equity.

Let’s take a quick detour to discuss the unpopular subject of customer returns. How can this process be simplified for both customers and retailers, and how does this affect sales revenue?

The most important aspect is to make returns as easy as possible for both the customer and the retailer, regardless of whether the purchase was made in-store or online. For example, this involves a platform and cross-channel returns so customers can easily return online purchases to the store and vice versa. This requires consolidated payment data. At Adyen, we offer crucial assistance in this area. After all, retailers can always review their customer’s complete payment history across all sales channels at a glance. This leads to better ways to encourage customers to make additional purchases during returns, for example, if in-store credits can also be easily applied to the online customer account. What’s more, prospective customers are more likely to make an initial purchase if they know right from the start that it’s very easy to make returns.

At EuroCIS 2018, you will give a lecture at the Omnichannel Forum. What can the audience look forward to?

The lecture will primarily highlight how retail technology supports retailers in eliminating shopping barriers and boosting customer loyalty.

Let me illustrate this point: there are many frustrating stumbling blocks in the way of a great shopping experience, ranging from long checkout lines to out of stock items all the way to high shipping costs. Successful retailers already take advantage of various technologies to address these weaknesses and give their customers the type of experience that far exceeds their expectations. Based on data from Adyen’s international retail surveys, our lecture highlights today’s obstacles in the retail sector and explains how technologies can help retailers to build and increase brand and customer loyalty. All this is illustrated by real-life retailer examples.

Lecture in the Omnichannel Forum of EuroCIS 2018 on February 28th (4:00-4:30 pm)

"From missed sales to loyal customers. How Retail Technology helps retailers to remove shopping barriers and retain customers from their brands". Original title: "Vom verpassten Verkauf zum loyalen Kunden. Wie Retail-Technologie Händler unterstützt, Shopping-Hindernisse zu beseitigen und Kunden an ihre Marke zu binden." Jean-Marc Thienpont (Managing Director POS Solutions, Adyen)

The presentation will be translated simultaneously into English.

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