November 9th 2023

Unified Commerce: Why Companies Need to Know This Term Now

Unified Commerce

The largest PayTech company in Europe, Nexi Group, surveyed 363 entrepreneurs across five European countries to understand their perception of the term 'Unified Commerce' and its value proposition. At its core, the question revolved around whether Unified Commerce is already a reality in German retail.

For a long time, multi- and omnichannel commerce were considered forward-thinking. Unified Commerce transcends these approaches by strategically aligning towards fully integrated shopping experiences, interconnected commerce across channels, borders, and business models, all integrated within one system. The entrepreneur has a comprehensive view of all points of sale and can manage them internationally if necessary. This opens up a new world of customer-centric commerce, which consumers expect today.

More than half of the participants (51 percent) understand Unified Commerce as a single integrated technical solution for all online, in-store, and mobile channels. At the same time, 48 percent interpret it as solutions for online and offline channels, such as 'Click and Collect' and 'Scan and Pay.' Additionally, Unified Commerce means providing customers with a seamless shopping experience across all channels, including mobile, for 42 percent of retailers. Another aspect, according to 34 percent of participants, is recognizing customers and their orders across channels, for example, based on their card payments or customer number.

After the 'Click and Collect' approach (63 percent), the channel-independent linking of payments with the ordering system (60 percent) is currently the most commonly used solution in the Unified Commerce cosmos. 'This shows that companies still mostly pursue multi-channel approaches,' says Carola Wahl, CEO Nexi DACH. 'However, there is great potential for retailers in the transition towards Unified Commerce.' The surveyed retailers share this view: 90 percent stated that Unified Commerce is important or very important in terms of customer benefits, and nearly as many confirmed this regarding smooth business processes (88 percent). Reporting on orders and order management are also important or very important for over three-quarters of the respondents.

Strategic Management of Companies through Smart Data
In fact, not only consumers benefit from Unified Commerce: Entrepreneurs gain a holistic view of purchasing behavior, sales opportunities, and payment flows. Whether they distribute recurring payment models simultaneously through an app, sell products in a local store and an online shop, or operate across various distribution channels, business models, or even business units and franchises with multiple national locations, Unified Commerce consolidates value-added services, loyalty, brand loyalty, orders, inventory management, returns, and customer data. This enables entirely new opportunities in the strategic management of companies.

What previously had to be depicted through various systems and, if available at all, painstakingly aggregated data, is now automatically accessible. This is no longer Big Data; it is Smart Data. Based on this foundation, the entrepreneur can, for example, manage campaigns or inventory management. Click and Collect, digital shelf extensions, loyalty programs: All of this runs through one interface and is intelligently and effectively linked together.

Challenges from the Perspective of Retail
What are the reasons that apparently many are not yet consistently moving towards Unified Commerce? 38 percent of the surveyed retailers indicated that they are hesitant due to the perceived high costs of platforms and technical investments. 34 percent cited tight time resources and large IT projects as their biggest challenges. Nevertheless, 22 percent are planning to implement integrated solutions, and 53 percent have already implemented them.

"Retailers and service providers should perceive Unified Commerce as an attitude and not just focus on the technology, but also on the processes. Specifically, it is worthwhile to first examine whether the existing systems work in an omnichannel approach and whether interfaces are available," says Wahl. "Here, our partner Computop provides guidance with its intuitive Paygate solution."

But why do we have Unified Commerce today, and why is the omnichannel approach no longer sufficient? Computing power, algorithms, interfaces—these enable interconnected commerce on this scale. However, what is even more crucial is that society has changed. In recent years, and greatly accelerated by the pandemic, consumers have developed different expectations. Today, people naturally buy a new pair of jeans from the couch with their smartphone while streaming a movie on the TV and with a food box from the organic farm in the kitchen, delivered every month. Consumption has fundamentally changed, and so have the possibilities for holistic, interconnected commerce—namely, Unified Commerce. ''For companies, realizing Unified Commerce is now imperative in the competition. Consumers are already living interconnected commerce today. It's high time that retailers catch up,'' says Wahl.

You can download the full report here.

Select language