Best Practices for Building Unified Commerce Experiences

Did you know that retailers boasting an exceptional omnichannel and unified commerce strategy typically enjoy an 89% retention rate? Contrast that with the mere 33% retention rate among brands lacking a robust omnichannel approach, and the rationale behind the substantial investments made by numerous brands in crafting unified commerce experiences becomes evident.

What exactly constitutes unified commerce? How does an omnichannel strategy influence brand experience? And what is the optimal way for brands to harness their technology stack in order to cultivate these remarkable customer experiences?

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of how (and why) brands are developing a seamless unified commerce strategy.

What defines unified commerce experiences? Unified commerce, also referred to as omnichannel, orchestrates seamless shopping encounters across various channels, whether online or physical. Shaped by the Amazon effect, consumers now anticipate other direct-to-consumer brands to emulate this approach.

  1. Here are several methods through which brands can foster unified commerce experiences:

    • Optimize Inventory: This involves displaying available items at local stores to shoppers and ensuring accurate inventory management, thus avoiding the discouragement of encountering an "out of stock" message when ample inventory exists elsewhere.
    • Convenient Omnichannel Fulfillment Options: In 2022, more than 30% of shoppers opted to pick up their online orders in-store—a figure on the rise with escalating shipping costs. Brands can enhance customer satisfaction and bolster their profitability by providing varied fulfillment choices such as Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS), Curbside Pickup, Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS), or Ship to Store.
    • Transparent Delivery Dates: Displaying estimated delivery dates on your website furnishes shoppers with crucial information, incentivizing them to click the "buy" button.
    • Endless Aisle: Despite the exponential growth of ecommerce, over 55% of consumers still enjoy shopping in physical stores. Brands can capitalize on this preference by integrating their online inventory into the in-store experience through apps or in-store kiosks. This enables brands to transform window shoppers into buyers by facilitating the purchase of out-of-stock in-store items from online inventory.
    • Automated Notifications: The unified commerce journey extends beyond the point of purchase, encompassing fulfillment and returns. A vital aspect of a unified commerce strategy involves keeping customers informed at every stage of their order's progression.
    • Seamless Returns: Facilitating customer-initiated and cross-channel returns, such as BORIS, contributes to a cohesive shopping experience.
    • Multiple Selling Channels: Expanding sales channels enables brands to reach a wider audience. Creating a unified experience involves meeting customers where they prefer to shop—whether it's via social media, marketplaces, apps, online stores, or physical outlets. Brands with more than three selling channels experience a 250% higher customer purchase frequency.
    • Personalization: Shoppers now expect a personalized shopping journey, influenced by platforms like Amazon. This includes product curation based on preferences, tailored marketing messages, and personalized fulfillment/return options.
    • Leveraging AI & Machine Learning: Incorporating automated 24/7 support, personalized product recommendations, and demand forecasting for inventory optimization are just a few examples of leveraging AI and machine learning. Brands that fail to embrace these technologies risk being outpaced by competitors.
  1. Examples of Unified Commerce Experiences

    Neiman Marcus:

    Neiman Marcus, synonymous with luxury, is renowned for its opulent in-store experiences. Over recent years, they've been dedicated to translating this exclusivity into their online realm. Their innovative approach includes utilizing data to tailor shopping experiences based on individual size and preferences. Geo-location technology allows customers to access local store inventory and stay informed about store events. Adding to their omnichannel strategy, Neiman Marcus introduced "Memory Mirrors," enabling customers to capture 360-degree views of themselves in-store outfits, which can be saved for future purchases via the Neiman Marcus app.

    Yankee Candle:

    Understanding the importance of choice, Yankee Candle offers a plethora of options to its customers. Through geolocation, candle enthusiasts can select and save their preferred store. The brand incentivizes in-store pickups and provides multiple payment options, including PayPal, Afterpay, and credit cards. Additionally, customers can customize candles by uploading personalized label photos and messages.

    Helzberg Diamonds:

    In the realm of jewelry, transparency is paramount. Helzberg Diamonds prioritizes providing accurate delivery and fulfillment information, recognizing that jewelry purchases often coincide with significant events. The storefront prominently displays estimated delivery dates and local store availability, including options for same-day delivery and local pickup. To enhance the shopping experience, Helzberg Diamonds offers an image search feature on their website, facilitating the discovery of similar jewelry designs.

    Native Shoes & Happy Returns:

    Unified commerce extends beyond the purchase process to encompass returns. Native Shoes, with a broad customer base beyond its physical store reach, addresses the challenge of high return rates in the shoe industry. While offering free mail-in returns, they understand the appeal of hassle-free in-person returns. Partnering with Happy Returns, Native Shoes provides US-based customers with convenient return options at over 9,000 locations nationwide, streamlining the return process at no cost to the customer.

  1. How a Composable Commerce Solution Enables Unified Commerce Experiences

    To fuel their unified commerce endeavors, brands require precise technology within their tech stack. While some opt for an "all-in-one" technology solution, often termed a "unified commerce platform," they soon discover its limitations in handling their distinct business requirements.

    Unified commerce experiences demand sophisticated solutions—something that a "unified commerce platform" or an "all-in-one" solution falls short of providing.

    Hence, many contemporary direct-to-consumer brands turn to a composable commerce architecture to drive their unified commerce strategy.

    Composable commerce solutions empower brands to construct a technology stack tailored to support the specific unified experiences they seek to create. Not every experience suits every brand, but those chosen must be flawlessly executed to cultivate loyal customers.

    Below is a quick comparison of unified commerce platforms versus composable commerce platforms:

    Unified Commerce Platforms offer a standardized solution from a single vendor.


    - Single point of contact, billing, and accountability.

    - Ideally, all products integrate seamlessly.

    - Bundled pricing often results in cost savings.

    - Suitable for merchants seeking quick deployment and simple, standardized customer experiences.


    - Limited capabilities and functionalities.

    - Each product lacks depth, aiming to cover a broad range of needs.

    - Challenges arise as merchants expand and seek to align new business expectations with the platform's standard features.

    - Composable Commerce Solutions empower brands to select and integrate the best technology platforms tailored to their unique business needs.


    - Modern technology, such as open APIs, facilitates easy technology swaps or upgrades as businesses scale.

    - Merchants only invest in essential components.

    - Each technology component excels in its respective domain.

    - Enables rapid pivoting and creation of unique experiences without significant IT overhead.


    - Management of multiple vendors and contracts.

    - May entail higher costs.

  1. Order Management Systems and Unified Commerce

    For numerous brands, the key ingredient in crafting a unified customer experience lies in harnessing an order management system (OMS). Positioned at the core of their composable commerce solution, it acts as the bridge between front-end and back-end systems.

    An OMS serves as the backbone for omnichannel operations, efficiently overseeing the complete lifecycle of orders—from sales channels to delivery and returns. It equips brands with fulfillment capabilities and visibility that would otherwise be inaccessible.

    To delve deeper into how an order management system drives brands' unified commerce strategies, contact our team today.

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