Omnichannel promised to integrate physical and digital channels, allowing retailers to deliver a seamless shopping experience. But in reality, because of stand-alone, legacy systems, many of these channels operate in silos, making it difficult to achieve full transparency and causing missed opportunities.

Unified commerce unites an organization’s backend systems through a cloud platform so data flows between channels in real time – breaking down barriers and, as its name implies, unifying the shopping journey. This strategy will provide customers with the single, transparent view of the retailer they desire, from inventory to pricing to promotions and beyond. Instituting a fully integrated unified commerce platform requires time and financial investment, but is critical for retailers looking to remain competitive. Most retailers recognize this and according to a Boston Retail Partners survey, 71% plan to have one within three years.

But just as the backend technology needs to be integrated, business processes also need to be aligned across all channels for a successful unified commerce experience. Here are some suggestions to help retailers look beyond the technology implementation:

Accurately Reflect Store Performance

Because most retailers separate brick-and-mortar sales from store-generated web sales, many associates view the company website as competition. If the store does not get credit, there is little incentive to spend time with customers that plan to make their purchase online.

Similarly, items purchased online and returned in the physical store can chip away at sales goal achievement. The store does not get credit for the sale because it was purchased online, and the store can be penalized for the return if the sales is made in-store. These two practices can drive a wedge between channels and undermine the sales associates.

Another approach is to create two different reporting measures. The first accurately tracks financial performance, but is not used to evaluate the store. The second report draws correlations between the store’s performance and pre-established goals set by the corporate office.

For instance, a goal might be that a certain percentage of buy online/return in-store should result in a subsequent sale. Penalizing the store for returns would dis-incentivize associates from using it as an opportunity to re-engage customers. Instead, the store should just be credited for sales they make during the return transaction and not take the hit for the returned merchandise.

Credit Associates for All…