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Gartner: E-commerce will soon be the most important sales channel

Fri 5 Nov 2021

E-commerce will be the most critical route to market for organisations worldwide in the next two years, according to new research from Gartner.

In a survey recently conducted by the analyst firm, 86% of marketing leaders agreed that e-commerce would be essential for this purpose in the near future. As well as highlighting the importance of e-commerce, Gartner also found that despite facing an unprecedented pace of change and disruption, 79% of organisations met or outperformed their 2021 revenue targets.

Gartner released the study results this week, which surveyed over 400 marketing leaders in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the U.K. from August through to September 2021.

“Organisations with a greater level of overall e-commerce maturity were 32% more likely to report that they have exceeded their 2021 performance goals than organisations that are less mature,” says Gartner Marketing practice senior director analyst Ant Duffin.

“This is because advanced e-commerce organisations had the capability to scale up existing, or set up new, e-commerce routes to market while still delivering increased profit and customer performance.”

The survey also found that with the accelerated adoption of e-commerce, marketers face ever-increasing expectations of senior leaders. Despite targets being met or exceeded, respondents reported that only 27% of their senior leaders’ expectations were exceeded when it came to outperforming peers regarding e-commerce. 

Additionally, only 11% of marketing leaders reported both exceeding revenue and profit targets, and exceeding the expectations of their senior leadership.

“This suggests that some senior leaders may feel that this growth and performance is a given based on the customer shift to e-commerce purchase behaviors,” says Duffin. 

“Moving forward, the challenge for marketing leaders responsible for e-commerce is that senior leaders will expect similar or more e-commerce value in 2022 and beyond.”

To ensure e-commerce value in 2022 and beyond, Gartner recommends the following:

Develop a clear roadmap to maturity

E-commerce maturity is a crucial driver to better performance, Gartner says. But 89% of surveyed leaders agreed that they need to evolve current digital business capabilities to produce more tangible results. 

The data analyst says marketing leaders must have a clear roadmap to increase maturity to address weaknesses, improve commercial value delivery and future proof the organisation to enable agility and mitigate future risks.

Establish a strategy to deliver sustainable short and long-term growth 

On average, 90% of surveyed leaders agreed that they are investing in additional capabilities to drive e-commerce. However, they are in a challenging position where budgets are being cut, so they need to ensure their investments work hard and deliver value. 

As a result, many recognise that they need to cast a longer strategic horizon to complement short term execution to deliver sustainable growth. Gartner advises that adopting a test and learn culture can help organisations execute initiatives that will build e-commerce belief and risk appetite.

Address talent challenges

The challenge for e-commerce leaders is retaining their top e-commerce talent. Especially when the level of competition to acquire top talent is incredibly high. As a result, leaders must focus on nurturing and developing talent to keep them engaged, challenged, compensated and rewarded accordingly.

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