Researchers Advocate 'Unified Commerce'

Personalization ranks front and center of the initiatives retailers are planning to add so they can improve the customer experience based on new research from Boston Research Partners (BRP) about customer engagement at the point of sale.

Among the formats this personalization will take are electronic shopping receipts offering suggestions for other things to buy. Last year 26% of retailers offered them and based on the research (now in its 18th year) 34% expect to do so this year. Within the next three years, another 48% of retailers surveyed said they plan to implement the receipts. 

Knowing the context the customer is in and basing promotions on that information is also the future of the store environment, the research authors maintain. Some 14% of stores have already put this in place and another 61% plan to within the next three years. In addition to having customer insights, contextual promotion is based on real-time environmental factors such as time of day, weather and physical location. 



More than half (55%) of the retailers involved in the research plan to have an Internet of Things capability within three years. Yes, we will be setting off sensors everywhere and making things happen. 

BRP segments the elements of the retail experience into four pillars: personal, mobile, seamless and secure. Here are the key findings regarding those topics:


Some 75% plan to use wifi to identify customers with their mobile devices in-store by the end of 2019 and 80% will offer suggestive sales based on previous purchases within three years. 

The most common personalization capabilities, according to the research, are personalized rewards based on customer loyalty. Last year, 14% of retailers offered it and this year 34% do. Suggested selling, meanwhile, increased from 14% last year to 23% this year. 


Within three years, 89% will offer mobile sales solutions for associates so they can look up inventory, for instance, on the spot and better serve a customer in the moment in the store. Fully 84% say they will use a mobile point-of-sale system.

BRP says “clienteling” and guided selling enabled by giving salespeople on-the-spot information about customers so they can personalize on the fly will also be essential to satisfy customer expectations. 

Within three years, 75% of retailers plan to use wifi and 71% plan to use mobile apps to identify customers in their store and no one technology is winning.


Some 71% plan to have a unified commerce platform by the end of 2019 and 60% plan to have a centralized point-of-sale system. Only 9% of the retailers BRP surveyed currently have a single commerce platform making a shopper’s full history visible through one window. 


Some 96% will have end-to-end encryption by the end of 2019 and 73% will offer a single token solution across the enterprise within three years. 

BRP advocates what they are calling anywhere, anytime, anyhow shopping or “unified commerce,” and BRP principal Brian Brunk defines it this way: “Unified experience goes beyond omni-channel, putting the customer experience first, breaking down the walls between internal channel silos and leveraging a common commerce platform. Retailers are moving in this direction with 71% planning to have a unified commerce platform with three years.” 

Keeping the customer’s trust is also critical as technology goes everywhere the consumer does, including the dressing room. There is a fine line between clever personalization and concern over personal data with the introduction of things like product recommendations via digital screens in the dressing rooms or facial recognition that tells a salesperson someone has arrived in the store, the research notes. 

Click here if you don’t mind giving your information to download a full copy of the BRP research.

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