The digital transformation of retail battleground that has moved to the physical realm where differentiation is found in building customer success through unified retail commerce execution. Stores are critical as the central command of activity and are ultimately responsible for the success that requires flawless frontline execution.
It is, therefore, imperative for the store to have unobstructed visibility — to inventory, to the customer and to every element required for unified commerce. Results from Gartner’s 2021 CIO Survey indicate that retailers overwhelmingly expect physical retailing to continue.
Survey respondents were asked, for each imperative, to please indicate their planned strategy in 2021 compared to the current year.
Just 25% of respondents expected a decrease in net number of stores, and the data further shows that 47% expect expansion of store portfolio — new formats (e.g., cashier-less store, store in a store, pop-up). Much news is driven by numbers of store closings, however a large number of closing stores is often related to just one struggling segment or retailer. Apparel retailers, including ascena retail group and The Children’s Place, accounted for 36% of the 2020 closings due to bankruptcy or liquidations. The actual number of closings in 2020 fell far short of the 25,000 predicted by Coresight Research in July 2020. So far, in 2021, openings have outpaced closings 3,199 to 2,548
Unified Retail Commerce
Unified retail commerce allows the customer to browse, transact, acquire and consume, regardless of touchpoint. Retailers who thought they had achieved unified commerce prepandemic, were very quickly disabused of this notion. They were forced to realize, very quickly, where the gaps and challenges were to truly reach unified commerce maturity.
The number one action item for retailers is to connect stores to the retail network to enable control that will ensure customer success. To learn more, Gartner clients can download this research deck.