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Survey Analysis: Organizations Need to Improve the Customer Experience to Fully Exploit Digital Commerce

Published 4 February 2019 ID G00369517 22 min read

Improved customer experience is the primary purpose of digital commerce, but organizations still struggle with commerce basics. Our survey analysis, coupled with social media analytics, will help application leaders identify opportunities for digital commerce improvement to gain competitive edge.


Key Findings

  • Digital commerce is viewed as being critical to digital business strategy by the majority of survey respondents.
  • The top three reasons for embracing digital commerce are: improving customer satisfaction; innovating/transforming the business; and reducing costs through the use of automation and self-service buying.
  • Among participating members from organizations using digital commerce platforms, on average, one-quarter of all revenue comes through digital commerce channels.
  • Organizations still struggle with availability, scalability and reliability of their digital commerce platforms while simultaneously attempting to deliver the desired customer experience.
  • Gartner social media analysis identified customer experience (CX) as the prime focus of user conversations in 2017-18, with the digital commerce ecosystem evolving from “feature specific” conversations to generating more “CX-friendly outcomes.”


Application leaders responsible for digital commerce technologies should:

  • Make digital commerce part of a dual-purpose strategy by using it to increase revenue, and as a stepping stone toward digital business transformation.
  • Leverage digital commerce as a shared tool across the organization for customers, partners and employees, making them all more productive in both B2B and B2C selling.
  • Become trustworthy and lay the foundation for building great customer experiences by mastering the basics of availability, reliability and scalability.
  • Be relentless in efforts to improve CX by adopting a customer-centric view as an organization and incorporating the appropriate emerging technologies.

Survey Objective

Gartner’s 4Q17 Digital Commerce State of the Union Survey gathered business and technology insights from 88 Gartner Research Circle members in organizations that were using a digital commerce platform. The survey was designed to identify trends, key challenges and prevailing technologies used for digital commerce in order to assess organizational readiness for the commerce of the future. The analysis in this report is based on the overarching trends and key challenges we identified from the survey.

For specific technology trends, see “Survey Analysis: Use of Multiple Technologies for Digital Commerce Innovation.”

Data Insights

Survey participants come from organizations in four continents, representing multiple industries and organization sizes.

The majority of the participants are engaged in both B2B and B2C commerce.

Respondents state that, on average, almost 25% of their organization’s total revenue comes through digital commerce channels (see Figure 1). For respondents with custom-built solutions (defined as either not based on any vendor commerce platform or based on open source), this proportion is, on average, almost 12% more than for those respondents who acquired their digital commerce solutions (Figure 2). Please note, however, that due to the base size for those with custom-built solutions being less than 30, results are directional.

For definitions of terms used in the survey, see Note 1.

Figure 1. Percentage of Total Revenue Coming Through Digital Commerce Channels1

Gartner - Figure 1. Percentage of Total Revenue Coming Through Digital Commerce Channels

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1 - This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Acro Media via the "continue reading" form above.

2 - Gartner, "Survey Analysis: Organizations Need to Improve the Customer Experience to Fully Exploit Digital Commerce," 4 February 2019, Penny Gillespie

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