Retailers respond to connected consumers with unified commerce platform, Demandware reports

As changing consumer shopping habits increasingly require centralised technologies across traditional point-of-sale, e-commerce, call centre 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 and Ecommerce Foundation in partnership with Demandware – that surveyed nearly 300 US, European and Australian retail business and technology executives, 53% expect to implement a unified commerce platform in the next few years, up from approximately 50% from the year prior. Additionally, over the next 10 years, 86% 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%) foresee significant improvement to controllable items that directly impact margin, including inventory turn and returns
  • Nearly half (46%) 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%) believe significant improvements will occur in average order value, promotional redemption and conversion rates

“We are focused on our customers’ brand experience. As revealed in this Report, a unified commerce platform is the most logical approach to simplify our consumer-facing technologies and effectively serve our connected customers,” said Alex Golshan, VP of omni-channel and international ecommerce at BCBGMAXAZRIA Group. “At BCBGMAXAZRIA, we recently extended Demandware’s cloud platform into the store with endless aisle capabilities and anticipate noticeable revenue and margin improvements by increasing conversion and optimising inventory.”

“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 recognise the benefits of this technology and organisational 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.”

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%) retailers surveyed anticipate significant improvement in their ability to meet business demands faster, and another 35% 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%) retailers are currently planning the transformation to a single commerce platform, whether conducting initial research or already starting to develop the business.

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