What Gartner Calls a “Once-in-a-Lifetime” Disruption to Retail 

The latest Gartner report includes a wake-up call for the retail industry: it is “now time for retailers to seriously start getting their houses in order.” In other words, your company must get serious about digital transformation to stay competitive in the long-term. This is an exciting opportunity to forge ahead with bold proactive changes that will prepare you for the myriad digital trends on the horizon. 

The Gartner report, Top Trends in Retail Digital Transformation and Innovation for 2022, calls this moment a “once-in-a-lifetime” disruption to the industry. These sweeping changes are necessary even in more creative departments like merchandising.

Retailers must initiate “root-and-branch reform” transformation now as Gartner warns, only “pruning or tweaking” will set you behind.

All the trends highlighted in the report—from unified commerce and composability to in-store automation and the metaverse—depend on digital transformation. 

Top Trends in Retail Digital Transformation and Innovation 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the trends Gartner identifies in its report: 

Store Operations: Comprehensive Solutions to Excite Customers  

Everyone in retail is wondering about the future of brick-and-mortar locations. What do companies need to do to get customers back in stores and excited about the “IRL” shopping experience? Gartner sees a holistic solution trending in store operations and it benefits everyone involved from sales associates to the customers. 

Citing their 2022 CIO and Technology Executive Survey, Gartner notes, “73% of retail respondents expect to increase store technology investments in 2022.” 

Retailers are piloting new in-store technology including automation, edge computing, and IoT. These changes depend on updating legacy infrastructure and systems. Sales associates benefit from augmented productivity through technology and in the process, they develop “more management responsibility and become more accountable,” says Gartner. Customers benefit from more productive and on-point staff, as well as an elevated shopping experience. To accommodate these new technologies for store-level visibility, retailers need a comprehensive plan with an accelerated digital transformation. 

Are you enabling your associates with the real-time digital experiences they need to deliver unrivaled customer support? On Mendix, you can build bespoke solutions so your team members have accurate, up-to-date data at their fingertips. An experience layer can connect disparate backend systems, meaning everyone in the organization has a unified view of data, including the real-time insights generated with in-store monitoring systems and data pulled from core systems. 

Team members also benefit from the introduction of digital solutions that streamline their daily and administrative tasks like our ShiftSwap template. This enables employees to manage their own schedules from anywhere on their personal devices. 

Composability and Collaborative Ecosystems: A Brick-by-Brick Approach 

A nascent and growing trend that Gartner identifies is “composability,” the centralized, collaborative, and modular approach to digitalizing an enterprise. Gartner cites findings in an earlier report, the 2022 CIO and Technology Executives Survey, that shows businesses that are “highly composable can deliver superior business performance, even in times of volatility.” 

“Customer expectations continue to be the single most influential driver of transformation in the retail industry,” Gartner explains in the 2022 report, highlighting “composability” as a key industry trend. 

This adaptable “brick-by-brick” composability is what Mendix nurtures: retailers with composable business architecture build modular components organization-wide with our open API-based platform. Collaboration between internal teams is fostered including open channels of communication between business departments and IT. With our composable technology, retailers are agile and prepared to bring new capabilities to market. A composable enterprise is one that can face future disruptions in retail. 

Unified Commerce: E-commerce Is Now Just Commerce 

Retailers know the day is coming and Gartner has the prediction in writing in their new report: “By 2023, e-commerce will cease to be a differentiator in the retail marketplace.”   

This might sound like a seismic shift, but unified commerce is going to empower retailers. Customers benefit from a “continuous experience” with a retailer, with retailers focusing on fluid engagement for a customer across all channels, no matter where they begin their journey. Companies benefit from aligned missions, goals, and strategy rather than siloed and scattershot departments. Implementing a unified commerce strategy will increase profitability in the long run, as retailers understand how their customers engage with their brands in real-time and on a daily basis. 

A complete unified commerce strategy depends on a modular, open technology platform that is agnostic and can integrate with any core system or solution. While unified commerce is usually anchored by a POS, as brick-and-mortar stores are viewed as “mission control,” retailers must enlist modern application development platforms like Mendix to create capabilities comprised of interchangeable building blocks to reach full value.

Gartner says, “To successfully deliver unified commerce, retailers must revisit legacy architecture and implement a single centralized platform that connects all systems, channels and touchpoints in real time.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the findings in the Gartner report. Learning about these trends will prepare your business for the continued turbulence the retail industry faces. Download the report and get ready for the digital trends today and in the years to come. 

Are you ready to digitally transform to prepare for the next differentiation opportunity? Mendix can accelerate digital transformation and create a composable, collaborative environment where a business is enabled to speed time to market on future differentiating capabilities. 

Digital Transformation and Merchandising 

We will discuss more of the findings in the Gartner® report, Top Trends in Retail Digital Transformation and Innovation for 2022, in future blog posts 

Interested in learning more about digital transformation and retail? 

Our webinar with Michelle Gill, VP of Merchandising at The Container Store, shows what your company can accomplish now with digital transformation. 

Watch the webinar on-demand: Industry Insights: The Right Product, The Right Merchandising Transformation.

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