Why the future of Australian retail lies in unified commerce

(Source: Shopify)

Speaking to merchants in Australia, it’s clear that the retail landscape is more competitive than ever, intensified by the influx of global e-commerce players and price-conscious consumers. The good news is that they’re also seeing customers returning to physical stores. This provides a fantastic opportunity to deliver a great customer experience, which can really set a business apart – provided it’s done right.

Successfully selling across multiple channels – including online, offline, and B2B – works best when retailers take a unified approach. Some retailers choose to use disparate point solutions that rely on middleware to connect to each other, but this can cause headaches like mismatched customer information or oversold stock if the integration isn’t perfect. Shopify’s single platform serves both online and offline commerce natively, enabling a seamless customer experience regardless of when, where or how they choose to shop. From a business point of view, unifying sales, inventory and customer data guarantees accurate reporting, with seamless maintenance being the cherry on top.

We’re seeing firsthand how unified commerce is helping retailers enhance customer experience, improve efficiency, and make decisions that drive profitable growth. Here’s why I believe the future of Australian retail lies in unified commerce:

Elevate omnichannel customer experience

In these times of increased competition and tighter consumer spending, retailers can avoid competing solely on price – and eroding profit margins – by using customer experience as a differentiator. Unified commerce platforms can help retailers provide a consistent and personalised customer experience across all touchpoints, leading to increased customer loyalty and higher sales. 

Take Australian baby retailer The Memo, as an example. It leverage unified commerce to offer customers a flexible and convenient omnichannel experience. The integration of its physical stores, online store and backend infrastructure means The Memo can offer customers the ability to check stock in store ahead of their visit, or click-and-collect to shop with speed. It’s also easier for The Memo’s sales team to help customers benefit from their loyalty program, as customer data is readily available. 

A native POS system like Shopify POS Go can further enhance the customer experience, providing sales clerks the tools and information they need to maximise every sale, like accurate inventory information, customer purchase history, and the ability to transact in real time anywhere on the floor.

Improve operational efficiency

Business efficiency issues are a big pain point for many Australian retailers. To improve efficiency, rein in operational costs, and maintain healthy profit margins, we’ve seen savvy retailers turn to unified commerce in spades.

Outdoor and camping gear wholesaler Darche taps into the same Shopify backend to sell to DTC and B2B customers. Since rolling out B2B on Shopify, many of its B2B customers have flocked to the online store to place orders. The beauty of this: it takes the pressure off Darche’s sales and customer service teams, who no longer have to manually take orders over the phone or via email, freeing up time to provide better, more attentive service to B2B customers. All of the company’s sales data is also stored in Shopify’s backend, so it can easily track and analyse both DTC and B2B sales on one unified platform.

Unify data for enhanced decision-making

We know that accurate, real-time sales data is crucial to making great decisions. A unified commerce platform gives retailers access to omnichannel customer profiles and centralised inventory data from all of their sales channels in one place. This helps teams from marketing to finance, as payments are consolidated via one platform, and one back end for reporting across refunds, chargebacks, returns, exchanges and other transaction types. 

Melbourne-based luxe lifestyle brand Elite Eleven synchronised its in-store and online stock data with its third-party warehouse management system, to improve forecasting accuracy and ensure adequate stock levels for its retail stores. This also allowed it to offer ship-to-customer services to sell items that were available online but not held in store. In-store staff gained access to the information they need to serve customers quickly and effectively.

Australian retailers are ready to do what it takes to thrive in today’s dynamic retail environment —and I’ve heard firsthand that many are focused on unified commerce innovation in the coming year. If your commerce infrastructure is lacking, there’s no better time to get started. 

  • To learn how Shopify can help your business with unified commerce, get in touch with our Aussie team. 

About the author: Erik Newcomb is director of merchant success Apac at Shopify.