Amidst an uncertain and challenging landscape, commerce chiefs across the board are presenting a positive front; nearly four-fifths (79%) of digital commerce leaders feel ready to take advantage of the opportunities digital commerce has to offer, according to a study from Wunderman Thompson Commerce.
The ‘Ready or Not? The Digital Commerce Leader’ report highlights the challenges faced by digital commerce leaders in the UK and US to implement and adjust to changes in digital and the needs of consumers today.
When it comes to the future of commerce, leaders are planning ahead for innovation and the outlook is buoyant. Over two-thirds of commerce leaders (71%) are confident that they have a good idea of what the future of commerce will look like. Notably they believe that in the next ten years social commerce (20%) will become the most important channel, just ahead of brand sites (19%) and marketplaces (17%).
Commerce leaders are also looking at which innovations will be key for their organisations in years to come, with organisations already having a social (70%) and voice (68%) commerce strategy in place, and a further 70% say conversational commerce (instant messaging) will be important to their organisation in the future.
Digital commerce leaders feel the three biggest areas of opportunity online commerce offers their business will be to provide a better chance of growth within their industry (20%), a better ability to compete (20%) and alignment with customer demands (16%).
Despite the positive strides commerce leaders have taken, there are clear challenges; on average 54% of digital commerce projects last year were deemed unsuccessful. When questioned as to why this might be, the majority of leaders pointed to a lack of customer alignment (34%), poor logistics (29%) and insufficient investment (29%). In fact, 51% of digital commerce leaders admitted they believe their organisation hasn’t invested enough in eCommerce; a further 28% said digital projects move forward too quickly and lack real strategy.
Neil Stewart, Global CEO, Wunderman Thompson Commerce said: “It’s great to see, that amidst a formidable landscape, the outlook for commerce leaders is optimistic and forward-looking. They are aware of the benefits that digital commerce can bring for their organisations and are already making plans for commerce channels such as voice and social commerce, whose potential is only just beginning to emerge. Digital commerce projects are not easy to deliver, but with the right steps in place, leaders can identify how to improve future plans and how they can drive successful and innovative projects in the years to come.”
In addition to their own digital endeavours, Amazon’s growing dominance is on commerce leaders’ minds. While considered to be the biggest competitor by over a third (34%) of commerce leaders in the UK, 81% agree Amazon has been good for the digital commerce industry as a whole and over three quarters (77%) look to Amazon for inspiration. What’s more, almost three quarters (72%) admit they actually need to invest more money in Amazon.
However, Amazon is viewed as a barrier by the majority of commerce leaders, as 57% say the retail giant is holding back their organisation’s growth and a further 56% believe that the industry would be better off without it!
Stewart continued: “Amazon has divided opinion for years. Often considered the leader of the pack, Amazon continues to innovate and disrupt the retail market. Commerce leaders need to find a way to benefit the consumer first and foremost, and this means working with Amazon. While the retail giant is a competitor, it is also a platform to give brands and retailers enormous scope to reach millions globally; this reach will expand further once Amazon enters the high-street. By considering what Amazon can’t do (WACD), however, leaders will find ways to differentiate their service, invest in successful digital projects and retain customers. Ultimately, the only way for both Amazon and other commerce leaders to thrive is to own part of the customer relationship, all the while continuing to provide the kind of immediate and convenient service that is expected today in retail.”
About the research
Research for this report was conducted by independent research consultancy Censuswide. A total of 503 senior decision-makers (including c-suites) in digital commerce were interviewed in October 2019; 252 in the UK and 251 in the US.