Gartner: Top trends in retail for 2021

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is driving international merchants to fundamentally reassess how they do business. Thanks in section to its numerous troubles and threats, 2020 has accelerated digital transformation across the retail marketplace.

According to Gartner’s 2021 CIO study, approximately two-thirds of retail CIOs claimed their interactions with their CEOs strengthened in 2020, as CIOs have helped manual their firms via major disruption.

To precisely suggest the business on technological innovation investments, Gartner has recognized seven critical trends that retail CIOs have to understand and realize. Highlighted right here are a few of the seven trends creating biggest impacts for retail CIOs in 2021.

Craze 1: touchless interactions

“Touchless” activities are “safe,” bodily-get hold of-free of charge interactions across the customer’s full browsing system. As authorities social distancing and cleanliness requirements proceed across a number of marketplaces, customers are expecting merchants to supply safe and sound, touchless browsing activities. Prospects should really be delivered with several means to research, buy and consume merchandise, in effortless, get hold of-free of charge interactions in a hygienic bodily atmosphere.

Touchless interactions across significant client procedures include the next 4 stages:

  • Lookup: Permits customers to uncover what they require or uncover new products and solutions, via on line channels and IoT enabled units, AI and augmented truth (AR) to deliver an immersive browsing encounter.
  • Transact: Permits a seamless capacity for customers to transact inside of and across channels, regardless of the product or service or the mixture of products and solutions and providers, with no inconvenience or delays.
  • Obtain: Permits customers to get merchandise and providers through a range of procedures, together with bodily browsing, click on and accumulate, in-dwelling shipping, automated replenishment, lockers, and partnerships with external organizations.
  • Take in: Permits customers’ enjoyment and enhances their consumption encounter. Delivered via increased data and providers, connected units and auto-replenishment.


  • Pick out a elaborate cross-channel system, these as BOPIS (acquire on line, pickup in keep) and establish all its significant touchpoints that warrant a touchless encounter.
  • Use the digitalization chance to redesign or make adjustments in the system to assure that the channels are operating in concert to deliver a seamless client encounter.

Craze two: fulfilment execution

Fulfilment execution permits excellence in fulfilment operations across the retailer’s bodily and digital property via real-time analysis and reconfiguration of inventory, labor and procedures. This in turn effects in optimization of inventory, enablement of unified commerce activities and elevated client fulfillment, as effectively as improved profitability for the business.

As e-commerce has witnessed major boosts about the past 12 months, excellence in fulfilment execution has grow to be a leading precedence for merchants, with customer desire for unified commerce activities growing. As a outcome, merchants can expect lasting submit-pandemic desire for higher on line obtaining with well timed acquisition.

According to Gartner’s Remaining Mile study, 18% of organizations now report fulfilment accuracy prices of 95% or improved. As browsing restrictions proceed, customers want and require to be equipped to research, transact, get and consume products and solutions and providers properly and simply across a retailer’s full ecosystem. This means that merchants require sturdy keep teams and strong technological innovation in put to produce a fluid encounter for customers when at the same time taking care of fees.


  • Detect all the data requirements to support conclusion-to-conclusion elaborate cross-channel procedures these as BOPIS, BOPAC (acquire on line for curbside pickup) and BORIS (acquire on line return in keep). This will make it attainable to consider the ecosystem of built-in methods needed to speedily support elevated on line desire.
  • Increase administration of on-hand inventory, steer clear of lifeless inventory and lower waste by leveraging IoT technologies these as RFID and intelligent shelving.
  • Optimize client order fulfilment by strengthening real-time inventory visibility and applying or strengthening distributed order administration.

Craze 3: algorithmic merchandising optimization

Algorithmic merchandising optimization permits merchants to a lot more exactly establish things that require to be shown and stocked. It also will help how things should really be priced and promoted, to maximize revenue, margin, inventory and client fulfillment across touchpoints.

Optimization models use client habits insights and predictive analytics to consider the relative performance of things across touchpoints and client segments, aiding merchandisers to make a lot more clever selections.

As operational fees are pushed up in reaction to shifting client expectations, a renewed focus is currently being put on merchandise assortment and pricing accuracy. Shops can no extended find the money for to unfold inventory across all keep locations. As a outcome, merchants have to leverage algorithmic techniques to enhance precision when planning assortments, pricing and promotions, and the ensuing inventory investments across all touchpoints. Each present assumption and tactic have to be analyzed in opposition to customer habits trends.


  • Undertake root bring about analysis with merchandising business leaders to establish performance gaps and consider options from lifeless inventory, inventory-outs and extreme markdowns.
  • Develop an knowing of how to leverage near-real-time various datasets, blended with AI-led techniques, to produce client-centric assortments that are aligned with precise client habits segments across touchpoints.
  • Kelsie Marian, Senior Director Analyst with Gartner’s CIO Exploration Team.