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Retail supply chain reboot: Agilely facing the unknown

Retailers are investing heavily in supply chain logistics, with leading players worldwide planning to boost their supply chain performance.


Many retailers realize they need to make significant investments in supply chain performance to remain competitive. They understand their options for supporting consumer needs in this area, and know where to spend money to achieve these goals. Despite this knowledge, closing current gaps in logistics performance remains difficult due to the challenges inherent in scaling up the new approaches.

In the face of these challenges, retailers need to reassess their supply chains entirely.



Retailers are making big investments in supply chain innovations, but often lack a way to make sense of their future store-level logistical needs. Scenario planning can help but retailers must augment their scenario planning efforts with agile organizational capabilities, so they don't end up building a supply chain for today's retail "battle" that quickly becomes obsolete in tomorrow's fast-changing war for customers.

Key Findings

Simply investing more money in new capabilities and running a higher-cost supply chain to create a seamless customer experience will likely be a money-losing proposition for many retailers.

Accenture's research and experience suggest that leading players tend to do several critical things right when it comes to boosting supply chain agility. Successful agile players:

  • Actively build seasoned, diverse leaders and management teams.

  • Speed up decision making.

  • Invest in and make more use of data and analytics to run the business.

  • Prioritize strategic decisions.

  • Prepare their ecosystem to act quickly.

"The industry's response to these findings has included a flurry of fulfilment investments and experiments."


Many retailers realize they need to make significant investments in supply chain performance to remain competitive.

Closing growing cost gaps

In some cases only 10 percent or less of a retailer's total sales originate online. What happens when that amount expands significantly? Closing current gaps in logistics performance is critical going forward.

Scenario planning can help

Retailers should employ tools that can guide them both in the timing of initiatives and the outlays required to achieve an optimum balance of speed, scale, complexity and cost.

Gaining greater agility

The insights scenario planning generates will only make a difference if the organization has the ability to adjust its supply chain strategy quickly enough to realize the benefits of the new plan.

Learn more about Accenture Retail

Learn more about Accenture Strategy


Mirko Martich
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Retail

Mirko helps organizations design and implement large-scale strategy and transformation programs. With more than two decades of experience working with clients, he specializes in business process optimization for companies in the Retail and Consumer Goods and Services industries. Mirko is based in Chicago.

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