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Resolving the digital collaboration conundrum between retailers and manufacturers

With increasing customer expectations and the complexity of omni-channel, profitable growth for retailers and manufacturers depends on digital collaboration.


The past few years have seen an inexorable rise in mobile commerce and ever-increasing consumer expectations around convenience, cost, and experience.

With the smartphone as the new gateway to all commerce, retailers and manufacturers are recognizing the importance of adopting a customer-centric culture and mindset to compete in this hyper-competitive, omni-channel world.

Vast troves of operational and customer data has enabled a new level of digital collaboration between retailers and manufacturers. The key to success lies in putting those advanced analytics and insights at the center of their collaborative relationship. The challenge for both lies in identifying and overcoming a number of real obstacles in their digital collaboration journey.


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Obstacles to Effective Collaboration





Collaboration Framework

Retailers and manufacturers must align on broad strategic objectives and commit to a set of priorities focused on achieving these objectives.

Retailers and manufacturers can derive mutual benefit by investing in business processes that emphasize data accuracy, technology systems with seamless interlinkages, and adopting common metrics and intelligent analytics.

Retailers need to invest in advanced analytics to derive a new level of insight, and manufacturers, in turn, should help retailers with new insights gleaned by combining retailer data with syndicated data.


By focusing greater energy on existing customers, retailers and manufacturers can build sustainable growth without enduring margin compression due to excessive promotions.

The choice of KPIs need to balance short-term and medium-term goals with longer-term strategic commitments, with retailers and manufacturers agreeing before starting their collaboration journey.

Back-end integration to mobile apps should reflect the true availability of products, with optimized supplier processes to cater to new distribution formats.

Monitoring execution and results

Both parties should monitor progress on digital collaboration goals and outcomes by having regular joint reviews and frequent dialogue that surface potential business conflicts well before they occur, include new metrics or drop less relevant ones as their collaboration initiatives mature, and embed data and insight-led course correction efforts as a natural part of the way they collaborate. While not losing focus on the importance of quick wins, retailers and

manufacturers should also implement a road map of initiatives that they can focus on at different time horizons to ensure long-term success of the collaboration journey. It is easy to fall back on old habits and cynicisms when the flush of initial success hits unexpected roadblocks—reviews should therefore also focus on monitoring the behaviors and cultures that facilitate or hamper collaboration.

Key enablers for effective collaboration

Shared insights and analytics platform

A key requirement for effective digital collaboration is a scalable shared analytical platform that facilitates greater transparency and trust, enables rapid joint real-time data discovery and insight sharing over a wide range of data sources—PoS data, loyalty data, social media data, web analytics data, forecast data, inventory data, and marketing program data.

Coordinated processes

To ensure that big data insights do not remain stuck in organizational silos, it is important that functional processes, such as fulfillment methods, be integrated and optimized, along with manufacturer’s marketing actions such as personalization, positioning, and promotions.

Leadership commitment

Without C-suite commitment toward long-term digital collaboration, most collaboration initiatives and efforts will not go beyond the proof-of-concept stage. Leaders on both sides should be in agreement, and be willing to adapt and change as they experiment with, and scale, innovative and promising digital initiatives.


With increasing customer expectations and the complexity introduced by omni-channel, progressive retailers and manufacturers have realized the need to become more customer-centric, insight-powered and digitally empowered organizations. Their profitable growth depends on the success of this digital collaboration.

Accenture’s research indicates successful collaborators can:

  • Generate 2 to 10 percent in operating margin improvements
  • Raise store-shelf stock rates by 5 to 8 percent
  • Reduce inventories by an average of 10 percent
  • Cut retailer’s logistics cost by 3 to 4 percent
  • Yield a 5 to 15 percent reduction in manufacturing costs
  • Yield a 3 to 10 percent reduction in G&A costs for suppliers


Conor McGovern

Conor McGovern
Managing Director–Accenture Analytics

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Anthony Levesanos

Anthony Levesanos
Senior Manager–Accenture Analytics


Arun Anantharaman

Arun Anantharaman
Senior Manager–Accenture Analytics

LinkedIn LinkedIn