Consumers Expect a Unified Online/Offline Retail Experience. Are You Transforming Fast Enough to Deliver It?

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Unified commerce is set to be a dominant topic at NRF 2018 – with good reason.

While the industry's movement toward omni-channel has helped build a bridge connecting online and in-store retail IT systems and experiences, customers now expect the same speed, service, and overall convenience whether they purchase in-store, online , or on their phones. Unfortunately, what they get doesn't always align with their expectations.

Those retailers who ARE able to present a unified commerce experience gain a sharp competitive edge in sales and ongoing customer loyalty. But getting there isn't easy, and requires a commitment at the highest levels of leadership to invest in the future of the company. While omni-channel is typically implemented on a step-by-step, "band aid" basis, unified commerce means updating and/or replacing entrenched legacy systems and processes with new fully integrated applications built on a foundation of high-performance networking. The end result is designed to provide customers with a seamless online/offline experience; something you'll be seeing and hearing a lot about at NRF 2018. With many of the nation's leading-edge retailers already well into execution, and with online giants like Amazon and Alibaba moving aggressively into brick and mortar retail, this is no time for anyone in retail to be a casual observer.

Retailers set a course to deliver unified commerce

Retail management consulting firm BRP's 2017 Digital Commerce Survey clearly indicates where the industry is headed. According to the study, 54% of retailers rated creating a consistent brand experience across channels as their top priority. The remaining high priorities are closely related. The industry is clearly focused on providing an amazing customer experience.

Top 2017 Retail Customer Experience Priorities

Source: BRP Consulting 2017 Digital Commerce Benchmark Survey among 500 top NA retailers

Very tellingly though, that first priority has been at the top in BRP's annual surveys for the last three years. Retailers clearly know where they need to go, and most are on their way. Many just aren't getting there as fast as they would like. If you fall into that category, it's likely time to step up your game.

Accelerating retail transformation at NRF 2018

IT transformation encompassing unified commerce will be a key topic for our team at NRF 2018, January 14-16 at New York's Javits Center. Windstream will be there in conjunction with BRP Consulting in booth 1663. We'll have Windstream's top retail experts on hand to discuss where you are at in your retail transformation journey, answer questions regarding your path towards unified commerce, and discuss your challenges and best options for moving forward. Including, a high performance, reliable network and communications platform to present a seamless online/offline digital customer experience. 

You might also take a look at the complete 2017 BRP survey which provides insight on the topic that might spark required conversation prior to the show. Then be sure to visit Windstream and BRP at NRF booth 1663. Good luck with holiday sales until then; hope to see you at the show.