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81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020 – Retail Dive

81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020 – Retail Dive

Dive Brief:

  • By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will deploy unified commerce platforms, to support commerce across the enterprise’s stores, mobile users and the web, according to a survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP). This is seen as essential to competing in the omnichannel environment.
  • In the online survey of 500 North American retailers, BRP found 28% of respondents had implemented unified commerce, compared to 9% the previous year. 
  • This year’s BRP survey shows that retailers are making progress on implementing unified commerce platforms. Last year, BRP predicted 73% of retailers would have such a platform in place by 2019, and 22% already had one deployed.

Dive Insight:

Technology and consumer expectations are constantly moving the needle on what is expected from retailers across all channels of their operations.

BRP evaluated how retailers are doing in implementing solutions to meet consumer demands in its “2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey.” Moving forward, the top three priorities of retailers for the year ahead are customer identification and personalization of the customer experience (62%), alignment of the customer experience across mobile apps and the Web (54%) and empowering associates with mobile tools (51%).

“Customers appreciate personalized offers and recommendations when shopping online or via mobile, and now they expect the same personalization, or better, when they shop in a store,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP in a statement. “As customer expectations have been reshaped by the digital retail experience, successful retailers have shifted their focus in the physical store environment.”        

Retailers are modifying the technology used to identify customers in their stores by decreasing their use of mobile websites, which declined from 40% in 2017 to 28% in 2018, and increasing the use of Media Access Control (MAC) addresses as unique identifiers by 26%. Also on the rise are beacons (19%), and Bluetooth (16%). There will be continued increases in the use of beacon technology in the near future, according to BRP. 

There are four important customer experience trends driving technology initiatives, as identified by BRP. 


Engaging the customer through personalization and relevance is the key to attracting and keeping customers. The study found that 62% of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority, and 83% will use suggestive selling based on previous purchases within three years.


The pervasiveness and ease-of-use of mobile devices offers significant opportunities for retailers as customers take control of the retail experience across channels. The study found that 62% plan to increase their use of mobile devices as the point of sale by the end of 2019, and 42% will use customer-owned mobile devices as a POS within three years.


Retailers will follow customers’ journeys across channels as they research, shop and purchase so as to fulfill customer expectations for a personalized and seamless experience. The study found: 81% plan to offer unified commerce by the end of 2020, and 91% plan to offer order visibility across channels within three years.


Today’s retail environment requires security beyond the current focus on payments and networks. The study found that 91% will have end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by the end of 2020, and 61% will offer a single-token solution across the enterprise within three years.

“Retail and customer engagement models must transform,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP in a statement. Because legacy retail applications and infrastructure are not equipped for today’s requirements, “retail winners in 2018 and beyond need to accelerate the transformation to cloud-based unified commerce.”

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