Gartner: These 5 areas of digital commerce will be transformed by COVID-19

Business success in the post-pandemic world means reprioritizing to account for major, long-term changes to the way people and businesses make purchases.

Paper boxes in a shopping cart.

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Gartner has identified five areas of digital commerce that are being changed due to COVID-19's effects not only on customer behaviors, but also due to rapidly accelerated adoption of online and digital alternatives by businesses.

The five areas highlighted could affect myriad types of businesses, with Gartner saying IT leaders will need to keep up with changes to remain competitive in the new normal.

"Digital commerce has played an important role during the pandemic by enabling organizations to continue serving customers. Measures implemented by organizations during the pandemic, such as enabling new go-to-market (GTM) models and new types of customer engagement are likely to remain, thus evolving digital commerce," said Gartner senior research director Sandy Shen.

SEE: Digital Transformation: A CXO's guide (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Contactless purchasing is here to stay

Whether it's Apple Pay or NFC chips in cards, contactless purchasing has become a preferred payment method during the pandemic, and Gartner predicts that 80% of ordering and replenishment will be touchless by 2024. 

"More organizations will offer contactless payments, contactless pickup and delivery for customers and enable contactless commerce operations where organizations can use robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision to assist employees with store-level merchandising, pricing, and pick-and-pack at warehouses," Gartner said in a press release.

Virtual product views via AR and apps will grow

Gartner admits that 2D and 3D product previews are still lightly adopted, with less than 1,500 deployments globally, but it predicts that number will grow, with software vendors offering visual configuration tools already reporting an uptick in business due to the pandemic.

"In the future, these tools may reduce the need for samples and showrooms and enable more customer self-service when buying configurable products," Gartner said.

Live commerce streaming services will spread

Chinese businesses were quick to adopt "live commerce," which involves "video streaming to demonstrate products and interact with shoppers in real time to encourage purchases," Gartner said.

Live commerce can be embedded in commerce platforms and available in online marketplaces, and businesses outside China have already started to adopt it. "Brands that have leveraged livestreaming for selling or customer engagement are seeing early success," Shen said, adding that some retailers have offered live chat support to help customers shop as well.

B2B buying will get "consumerized"

As younger professionals enter purchasing positions, Gartner said, they'll begin to expect their business buying experience to feel the same as B2C shopping online. Businesses that sell B2B should think about transforming their shopping platform into one that has a more consumer-like feel to gain traction with younger professionals.

Enterprise marketplaces will increase revenue

Enterprise marketplaces are "online marketplaces operated by organizations that enable third-party sellers to sell directly to end customers," Gartner said, and it predicts those marketplaces will be big in the coming years. So big, that by 2023, organizations that have operated an enterprise marketplace for more than one year will see a 10% increase in digital revenue, at a minimum.

SEE: Big data's role in COVID-19 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Enterprise marketplaces give traditional businesses a place to sell products online, and can contribute "to improved experiences for buyers and sellers, better efficiency in the buying and selling processes, more efficient supply chains and new revenue sources," Gartner said. 

It's also worth noting that Gartner found businesses that deployed enterprise marketplaces prior to the pandemic were less disrupted than those that only sold first-party products. 

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