Consumers today want the ability to start a sale anywhere and end a sale anywhere. As mobile devices have made it easier than ever for people to access the internet, consumers today often switch back and forth between online and in-store shopping channels to complete a purchase.

Taking this approach to omnichannel commerce is mission critical for today’s brands to stay competitive.

Modern consumers don’t think of their shopping journey in terms of different channels. Rather, they see brands as a single entity and expect the necessary knowledge sharing to take place on the back end for a seamless experience on the front end.

A recent industry survey found that 73 percent of customers expect orders to be tracked across all touch points. However, only seven percent of retailers currently provide this type of unified commerce experience. These growing expectations have made it essential that brands have the necessary tools in place to engage and transact with customers anywhere, at any time and on any device.

The following industry forces have contributed to this need:

Buying Journeys Have Gone Digital

It has become increasingly difficult for organizations to deliver consistent, personalized digital commerce experiences. This is made even more challenging when an organization is using multiple distinct solutions. In order to successfully engage with customers through digital and physical channels, companies must implement a single platform that compiles this data in one place. SAP Commerce Cloud is an end-to-end solution that includes product management, web content management, and order management to enable organizations to power personalized experiences on all channels and avoid the cost and complexity that comes with deploying multiple solutions.

The Need to Simplify the Digital Transformation Journey

Today’s businesses are expected to have the flexibility to quickly innovate, test, and differentiate customer experiences to meet evolving expectations. Often, organizations aren’t able to deliver on this because they are hindered by many niche solutions that result in silo applications over time. With one comprehensive platform, businesses can be more agile and operate at the pace of their customers, driving immediate results.

Rising Customer Expectations Cross Industry Lines

Experiences delivered by one industry segment have created expectations for others. However, attempting to customize commerce applications to fit each industry is costly, difficult and risky for companies. With this is mind, SAP Commerce Cloud incorporates industry-specific capabilities that address the unique requirements of different business types. The platform includes pre-built efficiencies for telecommunications, financial services, travel, public services, and utilities. With industry best practices embedded, time-to-value is accelerated and total cost of ownership is reduced.

By building all of this on an open infrastructure — SAP Commerce Cloud, for example, is built on Microsoft Azure — people are able to manage the operation of commerce software according to industry best practices. They also get visibility into platform performance and can self-manage development cycles. This leads to many benefits including cost savings, enhanced agility to scale and resiliency.

When organizations cut down on the complexity of managing multiple solutions, they spend less time on integrations and more time responding to evolving customer expectations. Ultimately, a commerce solution should make understanding customers simpler, not more complicated.

Moritz Zimmermann is chief technology officer for SAP Customer Experience.