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Harness the Core Capabilities of a Digital Commerce Platform

Published 4 September 2019 ID G00356990 37 min read

Digital commerce platforms facilitate digital business. They form the core of an ecosystem with many capabilities that must interoperate to deliver end-to-end digital commerce experiences. This research helps digital commerce application leaders understand common commerce platform capabilities.


Key Challenges

  • Organizations new to digital commerce are challenged to understand what is “in the box” in a digital commerce platform and what may need be purchased separately.
  • Organizations with existing digital commerce platforms must learn to modernize these platforms and create roadmaps toward improvement.


To support digital transformation, application leaders responsible for digital commerce technologies must use this research to:

  • Define the digital commerce platform in the context of a wider commerce strategy.
  • Use a business capability model to understand the scope of digital commerce platforms.
  • Use a platform capability model to select the components that are required to meet their business goals.
  • Use a functional model to help customize the platform to their needs, and to understand the scope of a capability within the platform.
  • Use the logical model as a baseline for scaling to a digital business technology platform.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

By 2023, 15% of medium to high gross merchandise value (GMV) digital commerce organizations will have deployed their own marketplaces, creating a digital ecosystem on their path to digital business.

By 2023, 5% of digital consumer purchases will initiate from a voice-enabled commerce interface, including voice activation devices (for example, Amazon Alexa, OK Google), and half of those will be biometrically authenticated.


Digital commerce platforms are complicated, diverse and integrated within an ecosystem of capabilities that together ultimately deliver the digital customer experience. Digital commerce capabilities form the foundation of many organization’s digital business capabilities. Digital commerce has grown in maturity and scope to now impact a vast range of individuals, business models, industries, and channels (see Figure 1)

Figure 1. The Scope of Commerce Experiences1

Gartner - Figure 1. The Scope of Commerce Experiences

Given the diversity of commerce use cases, ranging from IoT to unified retail, brand experiences, connected cars, cruise ships, malls, airports and cities, the types of commerce platforms are similarly diversifying. Each organization has its own needs and must navigate this new complexity in order to select the right technologies to stimulate their digital business vision. In this research, we build out a series of digital commerce capability models as described at four levels:

  1. Business Actions: The business actions required of a platform (see Figure 2).
  2. Business Capabilities: High-level capabilities supporting the business actions.
  3. Functional Components: A drill down to commerce functions that comprise the high-level capabilities.
  4. Logical Architecture: Broad technical platform architectures that deliver these functions.

These models will act as a guide to understanding and evaluating commerce platforms and their associated ecosystem components. Use this research as a starting point to define your organization’s current and future approaches for digital commerce and digital business.

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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, "Harness the Core Capabilities of a Digital Commerce Platform," 4 September 2019, Mike Lowndes and Christina Klock

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