At e-commerce fashion brand Love, Bonito’s newest – and largest – physical store at Singapore’s Funan mall, shoppers pose and post at “Instagrammable” spots while others collect online orders at the express counter.

Less visible is what is taking place at the cashiers, where shoppers pay using any mode – cash, credit or digital wallets. Payment and product preferences are tracked for when the shopper next shops, online or off, so that the shopping experience is constantly fine-tuned and personalised.

The new store reflects what an increasing number of retailers recognise – that today’s digitally savvy, sophisticated shopper wants experiences that are integrated, seamless and tailored. And Singapore shoppers are leading the pack in Asia Pacific.

In a recent , 51 per cent of Singapore shoppers said cross-channel options would influence their decision to shop with a specific retailer; 60 per cent have abandoned an online purchase because they could not use their preferred payment method; and 89 per cent ditched a purchase or left a store because an item was not in stock.

More so than ever, retail today is about prioritising the consumer’s experience. And as Singapore shoppers increasingly demand convenient and frictionless experiences, unified commerce – ensuring seamless online-offline transitions, from discovery to checkout – will separate the retailers who succeed from those who don’t.

Four strategic priorities for winning at retail 

With US$1 trillion in sales volume in Asia Pacific at stake, the business case for unified commerce is clear. But having the right technology is not enough – it requires a mindset and strategic shift towards customer-centric innovation.

Any action plan must consider these four strategic priorities:

1. Commit to a digital transformation strategy: Buy-in across the organisation – from the C-suite through to front-line sales associates – is critical. While one-in-three retailers in Singapore execute against a formal strategy, there is still much ground to cover. An important consideration is the high preference for less payments at 28 per cent of Singapore shoppers. Digital transformation must incorporate both globally-used digital wallet options like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and local payment methods like Alipay and WeChat Pay.

2. Convert the store into a strategic asset: While in-store is the choice channel across all age groups – preferred by 41 per cent of Singapore shoppers compared to 32 per cent online – a frictionless experience is key. Some 89 per cent abandoned a purchase because a product is out-of-stock, and short or no queues are a deciding factor for a whopping 96 per cent. Mobile points-of-sale (mPOS) help bust queues, and by allowing cross-channel buying and less payments, shoppers can complete purchases seamlessly.

3. Embrace contextual commerce: Channels like social media and smart speakers that allow shoppers to move from impulse to purchase in a single interaction are quickly catching on in the region, where the percentage of consumers shopping on social media and third-party messaging apps is the highest in the world (more than 45 per cent). But only 22 per cent of retailers enable purchases on social media, and 13 per cent on smart speakers.

4. Prioritise payments: Consider that 60 per cent of Singapore shoppers have abandoned an online purchase because their preferred payment method is not available. Shoppers demand fast and efficient transactions, so eliminating friction is critical. To ensure the sale is in the bag, retailers need to smoothen payment pathways, from accepting an array of payment methods and offering one-click checkouts, to avoiding unnecessary declined transactions.

Sealing the sale

Simply put, unified commerce identifies – and eliminates – friction points that lead to abandoned purchases.

To succeed, retailers must prioritize strategies that ease that process, providing a shopping experience that is consistent, convenient, and contextual for today’s shoppers who are more demanding than ever before.

The ability to do that is what give retailers the edge to win in the next chapter of retail.