More than half of retailers not confident in effectively managing digital operations

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Retailers expect major increases in operational requirements around fulfillment and digital-related functions in 2023, but most of them feel inadequately prepared to deal with these new challenges, a new study has found.

Findings of the study by industry insights firm Incisiv, which surveyed retail leaders in the US, UK, France, and Germany, reveal that fewer than half of retailers believe they can effectively manage all aspects of their digital operations over the next 12 months.

Incisiv said 86 per cent of the survey respondents were in director or above roles, including 41 per cent of these in VP-level above, and executives from retailers with over $500 million in revenue made up 82 per cent of those interviewed.

“Delivering on the fundamentals of inventory availability and anywhere fulfillment 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,” said Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer at Incisiv.

While the retailers expect the number of digital assets and digital orders growing 24 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in 2023, the survey shows that they are underprepared to manage the pace and complexity of their digital operations.

Key findings of the research, conducted in partnership with order management system provider Fluent Commerce, e-commerce software provider commercetools, and content experience platform leader Contentstack, 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 utilize
  • 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 fulfillment

“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,” said Michael Scholz, vice president of product and customer marketing, commercetools. “

“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.”