A new generation of retail processing is sweeping America and retailing everywhere.  The 2015 Store Systems Study 2015 indicated only 22% of respondents plan to purchase new PoS, the lowest percentage ever, but a full 63% plan or have already implemented Unified Commerce, a complete  integration of traditional EPoS, eCommerce, catalogue and mobile system function. 

Unified Commerce is one step beyond omnichannel and appears to largely satisfy all new technology enabled retail functions required in this age of customer centric retail, serve the consumer where, when and how they desire.  Distributed order management (DOM) is another name for unified commerce.

Omnichannel, the number one priority in the RIS Study, promises the consumer the ability to:

  • Purchase in one store ship from or pick up in another, reserving inventory
  • Select and purchase two items in a store, one from store inventory and shipped the other  from eCommerce
  • Return purchases in any sales channel
  • Order on line pick-up and pay at store
  • Track the purchase/order from inception to delivery.

To fulfil these promises requires integration or better yet a single system (Unified Commerce) to perform:

  • Sales and Returns
  • Payments
  • Pricing and Promotion
  • Clienteling
  • SKU Look-up with visibility across channels
  • Order Management, shipping and routing
  • Line Busting/Self-checkout

Are these services important to please customers?  Absolutely, let me provide a personal example: on a shopping trip last week to a major home retailer I purchased paint and asked the sales associate for the companion wall cleaning product.  He said sorry looks like it is out of stock but that there might be a similar product at the complete other end of the store. I walked, no luck and left a very unhappy customer. Armed with Unified Commerce, the sales associate could at PoS have ordered the cleaning product from another source and shipped to my home. A customer would have been saved.

Boston Retail Partners in their 'Order Management is the New PoS' available free online highlights these benefits of Unified Commerce:

  • Inventory visibility increases sales while reducing inventory
  • Simplified and reduced cost technology with fewer integrations, increase potential for lower cost cloud operations
  • Provides a single version of the truth for customer and inventory information 
  • Enables consolidate of retailer organisations to focus on the consumers not sales channels.

Fortunately software providers are responding to retailer requirements and preparing Unified solutions.  To name a few:

  • Manhattan Associates – a long time provider of order management systems recently purchased Global Bay a mobile based PoS application, clearly with Unified in mind.
  • SAP after acquiring Hybris, a leading omnichannel solution, announced it is partnering with GK Software for its new PoS application. Three successful German companies working together should smoothly unify.
  • NetSuite a successful cloud based ERP released a browser based PoS frontend this spring targeted at expanding its retail customer base by providing complete omnichannel functionality.
  • Starmount an early leader in M-PoS with clients Urban Outfitters and REI recently completed a total redevelopment of its applications to include Unified Commerce functions.
  • Epicor Retail now restructured as APTOS has historically offered PoS, mobile, cross-channel order management, and inventory management.  They have added digital commerce and now advertise a “Singular Commerce platform”.

If you want to do omnichannel successfully, I suggest you explore Unified Commerce, DOM or whatever the name, to provide seamless satisfaction to your customers and prospects.

Richard Mader, is president of Mader International Consulting and former executive director of the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS). He will be writing a regular US viewpoint article, exclusively for Essential Retail.