Accenture: Inflexible Operating Models Hinder Retail Growth

The research surveyed 700 retail executives across 13 industries in nine geographies
Posted on July 18, 2016 by Mackenzie Dunn

Accenture 3x2NEW YORK- Retailers’ inflexible operating models are hindering competitiveness and growth, and they need to better engage with consumers to remain relevant, according to new research from Accenture.

Retailers see inflexible operating models as a core challenge, with only 17 percent (compared to 25 percent of other industry respondents) saying they have an agile operating model that can adapt to consistently deliver on strategy and execute activities that drive value for the organization, according to the study. Barriers to advancing their operating models, according to retail executives surveyed, include technology (cited by 46 percent), the cost of the effort (42 percent) and experience to lead the transformation (42 percent).

The research report titled, Increasing Agility to Fuel Growth and Competitiveness, surveyed 700 executives across 13 industries in nine geographies about the challenges and opportunities associated with creating cost-competitive operating models and reinvesting in growth. Accenture also polled retail industry analysts on the business environment and retailers’ performance, and their view of the challenges and opportunities.

The majority of retailers (88 percent) are focused on getting leaner to free up the funds necessary to reinvest in growth. When it comes to reinvesting those cost savings, most retailers see investing in digital and entering new markets as keys to driving growth. This is consistent with where industry analysts see growth opportunities. Just over half of retailers (52 percent) strongly feel their businesses are investing in innovation in order to gain a competitive advantage with primary areas of focus being expanding into new geographies (cited by 60 percent), digital technologies (54 percent) and enhancing customer experiences (52 percent).

“The retail industry is evolving faster than ever, and there are tremendous opportunities for retailers to increase adaptability and competitiveness,” said Courtney Spitz, managing director in Accenture Products’ Retail Practice. “It is encouraging that the majority of retailers are willing to use new business models— including partners for business services, shared services and digital solutions—to drive value and growth. Digital, when part of the overarching business strategy, can simultaneously enhance flexibility and reduce operating costs as well as contribute to growth in new markets and channels.”

Accenture recommends digitizing operations as a way to become a more agile retailer. Digital enhances retailers’ ability to gain and use customer insights to other personalized omnichannel experiences that seek to address customer needs. To be digital inside, retailers should embed analytics everywhere, enable talent with digital tools and adopt multi-speed IT, among other tactics, according to Accenture.


  • Video: Color Comes on Strong at High Point Market

    Camera Icon   More Videos