Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., November 2, 2021

Gartner Survey Shows 86% of Marketing Leaders Believe Digital Commerce Will Become the Most Important Sales Channel Within the Next Two Years

New Research Reveals Leaders Are Now Expected to Deliver Even More Digital Commerce Value for Their Organizations

Eighty-six percent of marketing leaders report that digital commerce will be the most important route to market for their organizations in the next two years, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. However, the survey results show marketers face a challenging outlook to meet or exceed the expectations of senior leaders heightened by the past year’s rapid digital commerce acceleration.

Gartner surveyed over 400 marketing leaders in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the U.K. from August through September 2021, to gain an understanding of the digital commerce state of play. The findings show that despite facing an unprecedented pace of change and disruption, 79% of organizations met or outperformed their 2021 revenue targets.

“Organizations with a greater level of overall digital commerce maturity were 32% more likely to report that they have exceeded their 2021 performance goals than organizations that are less mature,” said Ant Duffin, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “This is because advanced digital commerce organizations had the capability to scale up existing, or set up new, digital commerce routes to market while still delivering increased profit and customer performance.”

However, despite targets being met or exceeded, respondents reported that only 27% of their senior leaders' expectations were exceeded in terms of outperforming peers with regards to digital commerce revenue and profitability. Additionally, only 11% of marketing leaders reported both exceeding revenue and profit targets, and exceeding the expectations of their senior leadership.

“This suggests that some senior leaders may feel that this growth and performance is a given based on the customer shift to digital commerce purchase behaviors,” said Duffin. “Moving forward, the challenge for marketing leaders responsible for digital commerce is that senior leaders will expect similar or more digital commerce value in 2022 and beyond.”

To ensure digital commerce value in 2022 and beyond, Gartner recommends the following:

  • Develop a clear roadmap to maturity – Digital commerce maturity is a key driver to digital commerce performance, however 89% of surveyed leaders agreed that they need to evolve current digital business capabilities to produce more tangible results. Marketing leaders must have a clear roadmap to increase maturity to address weaknesses, increase commercial value delivery but also future proof the organization to enable agility and mitigate future risks.
  • Establish a strategy to deliver sustainable short and long-term growth – On average, 90% of surveyed leaders agreed that they are investing in additional capabilities to drive digital commerce. However, they are in a challenging position where budgets are being cut so they need to ensure their investments work hard and deliver value. As a result, many recognize that they need to cast a longer strategic horizon to complement short term execution to deliver sustainable growth. Adopting a test and learn culture can help organizations identify, execute and scale short and longer term initiatives that will build digital commerce belief and risk appetite.
  • Address talent challenges – The challenge for digital commerce leaders is retaining their top digital commerce talent. Especially when the level of competition to acquire top talent is incredibly high. As a result, leaders must keep the focus on nurturing and developing talent to keep them engaged, challenged, compensated and rewarded accordingly.

Additional information is available to Gartner for Marketers clients in the report: CMO Digital Commerce Survey 2021: Big Growth Creates Bigger Expectations.

About Gartner for Marketers

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice, and proven tools that CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right opportunities with clarity and confidence, and to stay ahead of the trends that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers helps you focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver results. More information on Gartner for Marketers is available online at Follow news and updates from the Gartner Marketing practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerMKTG.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit