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Research Report

Commerce without compromise

How to reinvent commerce for relevance, without sacrificing profitability.

5-minute read

September 26, 2023

In brief

  • Commerce can make or break customer relationships and relevance. Yet only 20% of companies have all of what it takes to win in commerce today.
  • Champions do things differently: They’re bold, innovative and get the fundamentals right while fostering a culture of continuous reinvention.
  • They turn complexity into opportunity—and get results: Champions outperformed certain peers, with 85% more revenue growth and 31% more profitability.

Seizing opportunity from complexity

There is a clear opportunity in commerce: for companies to drive growth, for employees to do satisfying work and for customers to enjoy experiences that reflect the pulse of their lives. But opportunity comes with complexity. Rapid and ongoing changes across customers, markets, channels and business models (and within enterprises themselves) have a multiplier effect on the complexity of commerce operations—as well as on operational costs.

To understand executive perspectives on commerce and how they execute their strategy, we surveyed 1,300 global C-suite leaders across 12 industries and 16 countries. While 95% of executives think they’ve made the right investments in commerce, only a small group—just 20% of companies—is winning by managing commerce profitably and realizing other commerce outcomes. These Champions lead in revenue, profitability, non-financial outcomes and delivering for the business and its stakeholders.

Our survey data revealed three distinct groups of companies:

Compromisers are losing

25% are chasing the latest shiny object, operating reactively and out of touch with customers’ lives.

Coasters are hanging in

55% are getting by on business as usual. Change is slow due to leadership, cultural and organizational resistance.

Champions are winning

20% have satisfied customers and satisfying outcomes. It’s because they’re fully committed to reinventing the business to reach new frontiers.

Champions outperform Compromisers


more revenue growth


more profitability

What Champions do differently

Champions are bold. They are realists who aren’t stuck in industry orthodoxies and who know that a changing environment demands change across the entire commerce function. 

Our analysis found that these companies focus on getting their commerce fundamentals right. They are digital-first and put their energy toward building strength for the long term, not chasing the latest trends. They’ve reached the highest levels of maturity across essential commerce fundamentals including experience, technology innovation, operational excellence and talent and organization. They know that commerce is too dynamic to stand still for long: continuous improvement is part of their organizational DNA. 

The journey to becoming a Champion should be grounded in a key premise: Simplify how commerce works to improve profitability and experiences. Some companies prioritize technology investments that drive better experiences; others focus on operational and talent changes. But the most measured and optimized journey takes a balanced approach to position companies to reach their full potential as Champions. With this path, companies simultaneously build capabilities in experience, technology, operations and talent—without breaking the bank. This takes vision, time and appropriate resources. Evolving from an organization where commerce isn’t at the core of the agenda to become a commerce Champion takes strong CEO sponsorship and clear alignment and involvement across the entire C-suite.

How to become a Champion

No matter how the journey plays out, it’s key to balance investments across the fundamentals. Here’s what to prioritize across each.

1. Experience: See people before customers

Ensure commerce is truly human. Bring human-to-human relationships into the forefront with hybrid human-digital interactions. This could be anything from texting with human advisors to livestreaming product demos. The goal? Make every buying journey “social.” Generative artificial intelligence (AI) offers exciting possibilities here. Imagine using it to amplify humans, training language models on influencers’ advice and voices. 

Close the loop for more insight. Understand people in the full context of their lives with closed loop data analysis that continually feeds customer insights back into experience design and offers 360-degree views of customers’ journeys. This requires adding integration layers that allow disparate systems to share data and structuring the organization so everyone can act quickly on insights.

Make commerce experiences brand experiences. It’s important to understand how to be authentic, relevant, accessible and aligned with who customers are and how they live. To build future brand equity, companies must transform how brand performance and marketing is done so that these experiences happen in commerce.

2. Technology innovation: Solve for relevance with delightful experiences

Compose your commerce future. To thrive in a “commerce everywhere” environment, trade legacy architectures and buy-and-customize approaches for a common technology architecture that can be easily tailored across different experience channels. This composable commerce approach brings new experiences to market faster, supports data-driven ways of working and responds quickly to changing business requirements. 

Create a strong digital core. Use the power of cloud, data and AI to create a single source of truth across the commerce organization, boosting growth and return on investments in people, processes and technologies. A shared digital core makes it possible to break down organizational silos and improve insights and accuracy.

Get on board with artificial intelligence. Go beyond the hype of generative AI to explore the most promising commerce use cases in areas like pricing elasticity, merchandising, content production, customer service, demand planning and marketing performance. New possibilities are just around the corner, so stay close to the latest advancements.


We use AI and advanced technology right now. The expectation is that it will be even higher in terms of investments—that we’ll develop more and more of that in the future.

Consumer packaged goods executive

3. Operational excellence: Simplify by focusing on business, not channels

Be deliberate about the operating model. Improve performance by designing an operating model that clearly aligns key responsibilities with distinct parts of the organization. For example, one part of the organization should set action standards, overseeing playbooks and governance while others are responsible for execution excellence and commercial excellence. 

Double down on automation. As companies manage multiple markets, languages, channels, product categories and demand, automation helps cut the complexity. It improves performance speed and consistency, while freeing up humans to focus on more strategic and satisfying work.

Leverage centers of excellence. Centers of excellence take advantage of industrialized human-machine services that offer higher quality, the latest technologies and capacity that can flex with demand. They should be strategically located to provide execution muscle in key regions.

4. Talent and organization: Scale for growth with continuous reinvention

Set people up for success. Build and develop workforce capabilities through reskilling and new skilling initiatives that help the business generate value. For example, train creative and multidisciplinary teams to work with marketing and sales to design expressly for commerce channels.

Connect humans and generative AI. Help people see how the technology can improve their performance and offer creative, innovative ways to do their work. Cultivate an open environment that facilitates learning so that people can grow comfortable working alongside generative AI.

Redraw the boundaries. Infuse the culture with the spirit of continuous improvement. There should always be a push to get better—even among Champions. This means tracking and assessing the viability of new business and monetization models.

It's not just my team or myself who need to embrace this new mindset, but the entire organization. It's not an easy process because it involves changing habits and ingrained ways of thinking.

Global beverage executive

Champions win the day


more likely than Compromisers to say they are excellent at managing customer experience


more likely than Compromisers to invest in AI to optimize their business processes and differentiate customer experiences


more likely than Compromisers to say they have clarity on who’s responsible for driving commerce in their company


more likely than Compromisers to continually reskill their workforce

The choice to change is yours

Companies have a choice to make: Will they keep chasing the latest shiny object or clinging to business as usual? Or will they become Champions, making the changes needed to deliver commerce without compromise?


Fabio Vacirca

Global Lead, Commerce

Rajat Agarwal

Commerce Industry Lead – Accenture Song

Juliana Azuero

Global Commerce Research Lead – Accenture Research