So far in our series, we’ve covered the “endless aisle,” “omnichannel” and “virtual merchandising.” While all of these concepts are important when viewing the future of retail as it relates to interactive kiosks, we’ve saved the biggest and what we believe is likely to be the most important concept for last — Unified Commerce.
Many may perceive unified commerce as being very similar to omnichannel retail, and it’s true that there are some similarities. Both concepts look at all merchandising and marketing channels as a cohesive whole, whether it’s happening at an in-store kiosk, online or on a mobile device. However, where omnichannel stops, unified commerce continues by integrating not just the different channels, but also all of the underlying digital infrastructure, from POS to information systems.
Here’s an example of what an omnichannel experience would look like vs one rooted in unified commerce:
Company A is an omnichannel merchant, and has integrated their online, mobile and in-store merchandising and marketing so that customers can use their phones to scan QR codes to pull up information on specific essential oils and related products before making their selections and taking them to the cashwrap to be rung up. Customers can also use self-service kiosks to order items that may be out of stock in store and have them shipped directly to their homes.
Company B has invested in a unified commerce strategy. They have integrated all of their sales channels as well, but also utilize a single backend infrastructure to ensure they each channel works together to ensure a seamless user experience. Customers can not only use their phones to scan QR codes for information, but they can also add these products to their online shopping cart and pay for them right from their mobile device before walking out of the store with their merchandise, having never spoken a single word to a sales associate. They could also opt to browse the store, pick up their desired items, go to a kiosk and have out of stock items sent directly to their homes while paying for their in-store selections at the same time. Were they to have additional or more complicated questions about the products or their usage, they would have the option to be virtually connected to one of the five certified clinical aromatherapists employed by the company at its headquarters for a live video chat.
The above illustrations make it clear how unified commerce can result in a more personalized shopping experience, and therefore greater customer satisfaction. The biggest barrier to this type of integration is cost — most retailers have invested millions in backend technology. However, with a little bit of research, those companies with aging infrastructure and the cash available to make a big change may find that UC offers both a highly profitable and customer-centric opportunity to become or remain leaders in their retail categories.
Enjoyed our series on the future of retail? Convinced that making interactive kiosks a part of your unified commerce strategy is the right thing to do? RedyRef’s experienced professionals are here to help. With a wide range of fully-integrated manufacturing solutions available, we offer a one-stop kiosk solution from design to deployment, making it easy for companies of all sizes to take advantage of the latest and best interactive technologies. Give us a call at (800) 628-3603 ext 525 or submit a request for proposal online and our team will be with you every step of the way.