Thursday, February 27, 2020

Retail at Speed: Unified Commerce is Here Don’t Get Left Behind

Retail at Speed: Unified Commerce is Here Don’t Get Left Behind

Everyone’s heard of this thing called Omnichannel where you can interact with your retailer whenever, wherever and however you prefer.  Omnichannel has been in the news quite a bit and is the foundation for BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store).  Now the industry is morphing into this thing called Unified Commerce.  Over the next few postings, I’m going to take you through the journey from the concept of Unified Commerce to the incorporation of a Unified Commerce Model in your store.
What’s the difference between Omnichannel and Unified Commerce?  Omnichannel is pretty much what it says, that is, it allows selling through almost any kind of channel to which a customer has access.  Be it a web site, a mobile application, or a physical store.  Unified Commerce extends omnichannel to the whole retail value stream.  This next generation of retail brings in new capabilities like where devices can order items using the Internet of Things devices,  adds artificial intelligence to help make mundane decisions like which milk to buy, then uses robots to execute the building of the shopping cart and delivering those items to you.
Figure 1 Unified Commerce Process Flow
This Unified Commerce model starts with a group of Internet of Things devices like Echo or a Refrigerator.  For example, the refrigerator can send a notice that milk is getting low.  In addition, a channel (website) can add an item such as bread to your shopping list.  Your shopping list can be communicated to the retailer either automatically by some business rule, i.e. send list when 3 days of milk is left or manually by you.  The list can be sent to one or more of your favorite retailers, for example whichever has the best deal for the day or if no best deal, then to the retailer at the top of your favorites list.  It could even do an inventory check to make sure the item is in stock before sending the list.
Once the shopping list arrives at the store, the store’s artificial intelligence creates a path to the items.  This path starts with the customer’s brand preference.  Next a check to see if that brand item is in stock and there is sufficient quantity available.  At which point, a route is built for the picking of those items.
This shopping list and route is then sent to the robot for actual picking. The robot follows this route, avoiding obstacles along the way, picking the items on the shopping list when it goes by them.  At the end of the route, the robot looks up your payment option and submits the total with the payment option to the payment processing system.  The payment processing system processes the payment with the bank.  When approved, the payment system splits off the taxes and sends them appropriate tax jurisdiction.
Once the payment is approved, your delivery method is evaluated.  If you wish to use a Drone, the items are packaged for delivery by this technique.  Or if you wish to have the order sent to your self-driving car, the parking location of your car is found.   Then the items are taken to that parking location.  Or maybe you want to use the retailer’s done delivery automobile to bring you the order.  At which point the drone automobile delivers your order.
This is the future Unified Commerce model. 
-  My next posting will cover “I want to convert to this model; how do I migrate to this Unified Commerce Model?” 
-  Once I know what a Unified Commerce Model is and I’ve figured out how to migrate, the next step is to figure out “How to make a Unified Commerce System work?”
-  I now have a great working Unified Commerce model; the next and final posting is about “How do I buy the Unified Commerce Services?
Final Note: Migrating from a Siloed enterprise model to a Unified Commerce model must be done carefully to avoid the potential complexity where the migration fails on its own weight.
I have created an iVURM model (interactive Virtual Unified Retail Model) to help you move from where you are to the future.
If you are interested in moving to a Unified Commerce Model or are interested in seeing the iVURM model or If you want to be added to my mail list, please let me know and I will send future postings. 
Richard Halter
(405) 376-1141


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