Less than half of retailers believe they can effectively manage their digital operations

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Less than half of retailers believe they can effectively manage their digital operations Duncan is an award-winning researcher, with 20 years experience of analysing the technology industry, specialising in cloud computing, edge computing, blockchain, cybersecurity and marketing technology.

Retailers expect major increases in operational requirements around fulfilment and digital-related functions in 2023.

This is according to a survey from Incisiv, a next-generation industry insights firm that helps retailers and brands navigate digital disruption, titled Digital Complexity: Thriving in Unpredictable Times.

With the pace and complexity of operations in digital retail rising rapidly, most brands feel inadequately prepared to deal with these new challenges. The survey also found that fewer than half of retailers believe they can effectively manage all aspects of their digital operations over the next twelve months.

Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer, Incisiv, said: “As digital demand regresses to the mean, and with increasing macroeconomic uncertainty, the fight for the shopper dollar will intensify over the next 12 months. Delivering on the fundamentals of inventory availability and anywhere fulfilment is critical and there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. Building a personalised and relevant shopper experience is where the leaders are focused.”

To adapt accordingly, retailers need to focus on the capabilities that impact them the most and must upgrade omnichannel capabilities, specifically in areas of digital fulfilment, content management, and personalisation.

Key findings of the research include:

  • Retailers expect the complexity of their digital operations to increase over the next 12 months:
    • 81% of retailers expect their product returns to increase
    • 69% of retailers will increase their online SKUs
    • 67% of retailers will increase the number of digital assets they utilise
    • 65% of retailers expect the number of store-fulfilled digital orders to increase
  • Most are underprepared to effectively manage them:
    • 46% of retailers stated they will be effective in managing the growth of their product returns
    • 43% of retailers stated they will be effective in managing their online SKU growth
    • 32% of retailers stated they will be effective in managing the variety of their digital assets.
    • 35% of retailers stated they will be effective in managing their store order fulfilment
  • Retailers were forced to invest in commerce and fulfilment capabilities during the pandemic just to stay in business. Content and campaign management was given far less attention and now retailers must catch up. For instance:
    • 39% of retailers stated their current store fulfilment platform will not meet their needs
    • 40% of retailers stated their personalisation platform won’t meet their needs
    • 42% retailers stated their product catalogue system won’t meet their needs
    • 43% of retailers stated their content management system won’t meet their needs

Neha Sampat, CEO, Contentstack, said: “The stark reality of eCommerce marketing is that content is non-negotiable: to win and hold customer attention, content must be everywhere, and it must always be evolving.

“Marketers need tools that support this reality, such as MACH-based technology that sets marketing departments up for speed, freeing teams from dependency on IT, and enabling agile, collaborative, and scalable processes.”

Jamie Cairns, chief strategy officer, Fluent Commerce, said: “In regards to fulfilment, two of the main challenges include inventory accuracy and fulfilment optimisation. What is the most effective way to solve both issues? With an order management system – one that is MACH-based, offers flexible fulfilment logic and workflows. Second, retailers need to have the ability to provide an accurate, near real-time view of inventory at scale.”

Michael Scholz, VP of product & customer marketing, commerce tools, said: “There’s more to running a successful business than just ensuring you’re two steps ahead of having the products consumers want and need. They need the flexibility and scalability to provide the experiences customers want today, and tomorrow.

“Retailers need an agile and flexible commerce portfolio and an ecosystem of best-of-breed technology, such as MACH (Microservices, API-First, Cloud-Native and Headless) solutions. These enable businesses to unlock infinite opportunities, effectively tackle these new challenges and future-proof their business against changing market forces.”

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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