Digital complexity: thriving in unpredictable times – Incisiv

With the number of digital assets and digital orders increasing by 24% and 16% respectively in 2023, research shows that retailers are underprepared to manage the pace and complexity of their digital operations.

Incisive, a next-generation industry analytics firm that helps retailers and brands navigate digital disruption, today announced the results of an executive survey, titled Digital Complexity: Thriving in Unpredictable Times. The survey, conducted in partnership with Fluent Commerce, commercetools and Contentstack, found that retailers expect a significant increase in operational requirements for order fulfillment and digital-related functions in 2023.

With the pace and complexity of operations in digital retail increasing rapidly, most brands do not feel sufficiently prepared to face these new challenges. The survey also revealed that less than half of retailers believe they will be able to effectively manage all aspects of their digital operations over the next twelve months.

“As digital demand regresses towards the mean and with growing macroeconomic uncertainty, the fight for the shopper dollar will intensify over the next 12 months. It is essential to respect the fundamentals of inventory availability and the execution wherever it is and there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. Creating a personalized and relevant shopping experience is top of mind for leaders,” said Gaurav Pant, Chief Insights Officer, Incisiv.

To adapt accordingly, retailers need to focus on the capabilities that impact them the most and need to upgrade omnichannel capabilities, particularly in the areas of digital execution, content management and personalization.

Key research findings 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 SKUs online
    • 67% of retailers will increase the number of digital assets they use
    • 65% of retailers expect the number of digital orders fulfilled in-store to increase
  • Most are ill-prepared to manage them effectively:
    • 46% of retailers said they will be effective in managing the growth of their product returns
    • 43% of retailers said they will effectively manage their online SKU growth
    • 32% of retailers said they will be effective at managing the variety of their digital assets.
    • 35% of retailers said they will be efficient in managing their store’s order fulfillment
  • Retailers have been forced to invest in commerce and fulfillment capabilities during the pandemic just to stay in business. Content and campaign management has received far less attention and now retailers need to catch up. For instance:
    • 39% of retailers said their current in-store order management platform would not meet their needs
    • 40% of retailers said their personalization platform would not meet their needs
    • 42% of retailers said their product catalog system didn’t meet their needs
    • 43% of retailers said their content management system did not meet their needs

“The harsh reality of e-commerce marketing is that content is non-negotiable: to win and hold customers’ attention, content must be everywhere and it must always evolve,” added Neha Sampat, CEO of Contentstack. “Marketers need tools that support this reality, like MACH-based technology that accelerates marketing departments, frees teams from IT dependency, and enables agile, collaborative, and scalable processes.”

Jamie Cairns, Chief Strategy Officer at Fluent Commerce, said, “When it comes to execution, two of the biggest challenges are inventory accuracy and optimizing execution. What is the most efficient way to solve the two problems? With a MACH-based order management system, offers fulfillment logic and flexible workflows. Second, retailers must have the ability to provide an accurate, near real-time view of inventory at scale. »

“Running a successful business is about more than ensuring you’re two steps ahead of the products consumers want and need. They need flexibility and scalability to deliver the experiences customers are looking for today and tomorrow,” said Michael Scholz, vice president of product and customer marketing, commercetools. “Retailers need an agile and flexible commerce portfolio and an ecosystem of cutting-edge technologies, such as MACH (Microservices, API-First, Cloud-Native, and Headless) solutions. These allow businesses to unlock endless opportunities, effectively address these new challenges, and future-proof their business in the face of changing market forces.

Click here to download the full results from Digital Complexity: Thriving in Unpredictable Times.

Survey methodology

Incisiv, Fluent Commerce, commercetools and Contentstack conducted a survey of retail executives to assess the state of digital complexity in the retail industry in the US, UK, France and Germany . The survey and analysis was conducted in the second and third quarters of 2022 and received over 350 responses. Nearly 90% (86%) of respondents were in director or above positions, with 41% of them at the senior vice president level. Executives of retailers with more than $500 million in revenue accounted for 82% of respondents.

Sharon D. Cole