Today’s new class of empowered shoppers, combined with the threat of online mega-retailers, means that retailers need to transform – fast. However, choosing the right technologies to create frictionless experiences that shoppers demand can be a risky and expensive task, especially if you can’t predict the ROI.

A recent study from NCR, in partnership with global research and analyst firm IHL Group, shows that unified commerce is becoming a reality, and some leading retailers are already reaping the rewards. The research found that retailers who invest in technologies designed to create seamless, customised shopping experiences that transcend channels enjoy sales boosts of up to 100% (and in some cases, even more) over those who don’t.

How are retail winners using technology to create connected experiences for their customers and outperform their competitors? Here, we take a quick look at the key areas of investment the benchmarking study revealed as consistently reaping the biggest rewards -- full results are available in our downloadable Unified Commerce Landscape Report.

1. Order management system (OMS): The backbone of omni-channel

This is the system for any order that comes into the organisation and feeds the store, ecommerce, mobile commerce, or catalogue. It provides a single version of the truth about the inventory and order information. IHL’s research shows that those with OMS have an average 18% higher sales gains over those that do not. Many of the huge sales and productivity gains must be built on this foundation.

2. Shine the spotlight on your cross-channel capabilities

If all you do is build it, they will not come. Upon conquering the technical aspects of cross-channel fulfillment, the single biggest sales impact comes from publicising your capabilities (ship-to-store, ship-from-store, online returns at the store, etc.). Marketing your cross-channel fulfillment is essential to your customers and they will take advantage of those options. Retailers who promote their cross-channel services have an average 110% higher sales increase compared to retailers that do not.

3. Customer preferences across channels gives you the power to personalise

Being able to track, use, and benefit from customer preferences across channels is a tactic that significantly drives sales – the survey revealed an average of 107% sales increase for those retailers using these capabilities as opposed to those without such capabilities.

4. Take advantage of loyalty in real time

Traditionally, less than 50% of chain retailers have been able to use a customer loyalty profile (while the customer is in the store) to influence behaviour or increase sales at the store level. However, for those that do, the results can be powerful. In fact, sales growth figures are an average of 84% higher than for retailers who cannot use these profiles in real time.

5. Keep the conversation going with integrated marketing across channels

It’s one thing to have customer preferences across channels and loyalty profiles in real-time, but the research shows that retailers need to actively market these consistently in order to drive business in each channel. The impact of this continual conversation is powerful. According to IHL’s survey, those retailers able to drive online traffic to stores and vice versa are seeing an average 77% higher sales increase than those who cannot.

6. Don’t get caught flat footed: Cross-channel demand planning

This takes into consideration planning for demand based on what is selling fastest in each channel and delivering those orders in the most efficient way for customers by channel – a critical insight for avoiding out-of-stocks. Retailers utilising cross-channel demand planning have an average sales increase of 102% over those who do not.

7. Mobile tools arm your MVPs: Your sales associates

Retailers investing in mobile for associates – including hardware and software for sales assistance, clienteling, and inventory lookup – are seeing an average 77% higher sales increase compared with those who are not.

8. Mobile POS enables transactions anywhere in the store

Mobile POS (completing a transaction on the mobile device with payment) when done correctly is a significant opportunity for retailers. In fact, the research shows retailers who have mobile POS capabilities achieve an average sales increase 92% higher than those who do not. This increase is predicated upon the retailer also integrating sales assist and inventory look-up functions.

Discover the full results of the IHL survey and assess your current level of unified commerce readiness by downloading the Unified Commerce Landscape report today. Or contact us at green.grass@ncr.com to start accelerating your path to unified commerce and achieving next-level performance for your enterprise.