Retail Converged Commerce vs Unified Commerce
Thursday, May 3, 2018

Retail Converged Commerce vs Unified Commerce

Unified commerce is the new buzz word in retail. But have you heard about retail Converged Commerce. How is it different from unified commerce? Simply put, converged commerce is unified commerce built with best-in-class technologies. This is in stark contrast to SUC (singular unified commerce) systems – which one company alone develops the entire solution, with mixed results.

Equation Converged Commerce = Unified commerce built on best of breed technologies

What is Unified Commerce?

First lets backtrack to define unified commerce (UC). It is the tight integration of various retail technologies such that they work in unison, as one holistic system. The idea is that even though each sub-system performs different tasks, it all works in unison. In effect, it makes the whole solution they appear to be one single technology.

A UC system may consist of a

  • POS (point of sales),
  • WMS (warehouse management system),
  • OMS (order management system) and
  • ECP (ecommerce platform).

These being tightly integrated. However, as long as you can tightly integrate the sub-systems, you will get a unified commerce solution.

What about SUC’s?

Intuitively, it may seem that an SUC system is ideal. Developed by a single vendor, it has to be better, and totally integrated – right? From day one, the whole thing should be completely unified right out of the box… right? No need for integration fees, right? Think again. What frustrates most retail executives is that SUC systems also often need considerable integration. Sometimes the SUC sales story is just that.  A visionary pitch that does not work at the operational level.

Despite appearing to be a single monolithic solution, it is seldom the case. They consist of the different sub-systems. Like purchasing separate technologies, these need work to assemble and interconnect. If the SUC vendor is merely a platform solution, you will have a new set of problems. Platforms are a red flag that means you need coders. It means there is no system to use, it has to be designed, then programmed. Then every time you need an adjustment – you will probably need to bring in the coders again. Yikes.

The problem with unified commerce

That SUCks!

Fundamental problems with SUC systems leads us back to an old saying. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” This is true in retail, and it is definitely true in unified commerce. It requires a single vendor takes on the massive project of developing all the sub-systems of a UC solution. This is overwhelming. It means the single vendor has to split up its R&D resources to understand, learn, and develop various highly specialized technologies. Even the world’s largest technology providers find this to be challenging. Recall the old saying that the ‘jack of all trades is the master of none‘. This applies equally to SUC technology vendors, with a long line of disappointed retailers to attest to it.

Download CIO GuideVendors trying to bite off more than they can chew end up disappointing their retail customers. They might do a great job at one – maybe two sub-systems. But the more they try to multi-task, the greater the chance they are under-resourcing parts of they technology groups. It is about bring spread too thinly. We all know what that is like!

How is Retail Converged Commerce Better?

Retail Converged Commerce is unified commerce. But it is specifically built with the industry’s best technologies. It cherry picks the right subsystems to meet and exceed the retailer’s needs.  Converged commerce does not rely on any particular company to be develop ALL of the world’s best sub-systems. Instead, it takes several best-of-breed technologies, and seamlessly ties them together. It gives you a much more robust, and much more powerful end result.

But Retail Converged Commerce breaks at the Seams

Converged Commerce is a fully unified and seamless technology, that gives retailers the best possible performance and distantly outpaces SUC systems.This is a fallacy.  Today’s integration technologies make it much easier to interconnect sub-systems. A decade ago, the above statement might have been true. Now, we have a much better understanding of how to interconnect systems seamlessly. Be it with API’s, webservices, communication micro-services, middleware, or connection cartridges; retail tech developers build systems to interconnect. Good Systems Integrators (SI) are masters of interconnecting retail technologies into robust retail converged commerce solutions.

Again, to answer the question – NO. Retail converged commerce does not break at the seams. It is a fully unified and seamless. Better yet, it gives retailers:

  • exactly what they need with
  • the best retail technology available that
  • provides top performance when integrated well.

What to Consider

Thinking about a unified commerce system? Consider the option of a retail converged commerce solution, as an unbiased, high performance option. Building with best-of-breed technologies gives you better performance, the option to interchange systems (if they don’t perform), and focuses on robustness.

If your retail technology vendor will provide a fully unified solution – then ask about whether it consists of best-of-breed technologies. Several vendors do use OEMed best-of-breed technologies, like the OrderDynamics solution. If that is the case, then you know you are getting the world’s best technologies in your solution – built in.

On the other hand, if you are considering a vendor pitching a SUC all built by that single vendor – proceed with caution. We know they had the best of intentions. It may even seem like such an attractive simple solution. Just make sure the simplicity isn’t leaving you far behind your competitors.

Don’t be that one retailer left holding the broken chain.



Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is Vice President of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.





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