Unified commerce is a concept on the mind of most of today’s retail executives. It’s a step beyond omni-channel, endeavoring to serve consumers when, where and however they prefer to make a purchase by taking systems once siloed based on different channels and merging them onto a single data set.
According to a recent IHL study published in RIS News, 86% of software spending in retail organizations is going toward the five pillars of unified commerce: store systems, merchandising/supply chain, business intelligence/analytics, sales and marketing, and e-commerce systems. Advanced organizations understand these functions must be aligned to compete in today’s dynamic and swiftly changing retail environment.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive deeper into the findings of the 2017 Unified Commerce Landscape report, which correlated sales growth against 15 various commerce strategies being used by more than 90 retailers across the U.S. and U.K. When asked about their priorities, the research found that retailers of all levels of success are focusing on three key areas in 2017: improving customer loyalty, creating a seamless shopping experience and creating a “wow” experience at the store.
The key difference between retailers that demonstrated strong sales growth and those that didn’t is the balance between those three above-mentioned priorities. Retail “winners,” as the report describes them, are thinking about these areas simultaneously and in a more balanced way. IT spend is another indication – retailers that are willing to make investments in systems to improve the overall customer experience tend to be those that are on the more successful end of the spectrum. Among general merchandise retailers, there is another area of consideration this year: providing actionable analytics to store associates to help them make better decisions at the point of customer interaction.
If we look closer at the impact IT spend has on sales growth, the report indicated that retail winners across all segments spent nearly 70% more on IT as a percentage of revenue in 2016 compared to their less-successful counterparts. IHL also pointed to differences when it comes to planning for budget growth: retail winners across all segments are increasing their total IT spend at a rate of 87% faster than the laggards. Among food, drug, convenience and mass merchant retailers, that figure jumps to a whopping 107%. Finally, retail winners across all segments are hiking up their store-level IT spend at a rate of 133% faster than the laggards.
Next time, we’ll explore the systems that constitute the building blocks of unified commerce. In the meantime, read the full report here, and contact JustEnough today to learn more about our integrated, end-to-end suite of planning solutions support many of the world’s leading retailers.