Many retailers, saddled with legacy technology that is not designed to meet the demands of today’s shopper, are scrambling to cobble systems together in an attempt to deliver omnichannel capabilities, resulting in a “faux” omnichannel model that ultimately disappoints customers.

That is one of the findings of Boston Retail Partners’ 17th annual Point of Sale/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, which found that 85% of respondents named unified commerce as their top priority in 2016.

Specifically, retailers are striving to eliminate channel silos and deliver a seamless experience across all touch points by leveraging a single, unified commerce platform for all commerce, inventory, customer and transaction data.

Of course, that is far, far easier said than done. As BRP notes, “in most cases the process to offer customers the seamless shopping experience is manual and involves complex integration across multiple systems and processes, and often doesn’t work very well in real time.”

What’s the answer?

An agile, enterprise cloud commerce platform that supports a unified, shared view of data and core services, allowing each component of the consumer experience – digital commerce, in-store commerce, personalization and order fulfillment – to be coordinated in real time.

“Retailers still have a long road ahead to achieve a successful unified commerce platform – 12% of the retailers who claim to have implemented unified commerce indicated a need for improvement – but it will be worth the effort,” says BRP.

Indeed, in a 2015 report by the National Retail Federation, eCommerce Europe and the eCommerce Foundation, retailers cited three business benefits of unified commerce: the ability to quickly respond to consumer demands, an increase in store associate productivity, and an ability to support omnichannel strategies – all of which ultimately result in improved profit margins, brand value and revenue.

Retailers embrace the notion that unified commerce is the engine to drive omnichannel retail. The challenge, BRP notes, is to “create and adapt the right foundation to support this new normal.”