Digital commerce is expected to become an increasingly important sales channel. A survey of marketing leaders in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the UK by Gartner found that 86 percent expect it to be the most important route to market for their organizations in the next two years. However, the survey results show marketers face a challenging outlook to meet or exceed the expectations of senior leaders heightened by the past year’s rapid digital commerce acceleration.

“Organizations with a greater level of overall digital commerce maturity were 32-percent more likely to report that they have exceeded their 2021 performance goals than organizations that are less mature,” says Ant Duffin, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “This is because advanced digital commerce organizations had the capability to scale up existing, or set up new, digital commerce routes to market while still delivering increased profit and customer performance.”

The Gartner survey also found that despite facing an unprecedented pace of change and disruption, 79 percent of organizations met or outperformed their 2021 revenue targets. However, respondents reported that only 27 percent of their senior leaders' expectations were exceeded in terms of outperforming peers with regards to digital commerce revenue and profitability. Additionally, only 11 percent 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 digital commerce purchase behaviors,” says Duffin. “Moving forward, the challenge for marketing leaders responsible for digital commerce is that senior leaders will expect similar or more digital commerce value in 2022 and beyond.”