We are living in a time where customers have the world—and all its commerce—in the palms of their hands. As a result, big brands are fighting to keep pace operationally with the current rate of global digital commerce expansion, and for good reason. A whopping 92% of customers across eleven countries purchase through digital commerce channels according to our latest report, Making Space to Grow.1 So, how are brands meant to keep up? By embracing commerce transformation and rethinking their merchandising model.

Today, shoppers can simply scroll, click and have their products delivered the same day. As a result, the line between online and offline experiences blurs while consumers bounce between physical and digital touchpoints. However, it’s not just the shopping experience that’s changing—it’s also the shoppers. Generation Z makes up 40% of all US consumers.2 The irony is that, despite this generation’s being born with a “smartphone in their hands,” no real historical context around brand positioning or value exists.

With lower barriers to entry, a new generation of shoppers coming into the fray and nimbler, more digitally driven competitors’ stealing market share, well, it’s enough to keep any retail CEO up at night, right?

And yet, many brands are conspicuously absent from some of today’s most popular commercial channels, leaving a vacuum in their wake. Back in October 2020, Accenture reported that almost all (92%) of C-suite executives were accelerating investments in digital transformation.3 Bearing in mind the dynamic nature of the online shopper and the continued emergence of new technologies, marketplaces and social commerce—not to mention metaverse merchandising opportunities—executives are looking for a new North Star to future-proof investments.

Yesterday’s model doesn’t work today

Simply investing more in the same trading model and expecting volumes to increase isn’t going to work. Brands now need to be present across an ever-growing spectrum of digital sales channels to meet the customer where they shop and compete with competitors of different shapes and sizes.

One of the more difficult challenges brands face is having the right capabilities; they want to keep pace with today’s customers, but they simply don’t have the right data, technologies, operating model, talent—the list goes on. As a result, these brands are encountering global operational issues in scaling and adapting to new opportunities. We believe the answer lies in adopting a dynamic merchandising model, one that works for each of the five core ways to sell online: direct-to-consumer (D2C), social commerce, marketplace first-party (1P) and third-party (3P) providers, retailers, and whatever comes next.

The reality is that each sales channel functions differently. What works well in the US may be completely different in Southeast Asia. What’s more, organizations often invest a lot of money into early phases of merchandising, such as strategy and content origination, resulting in wonderful star-studded TV ads. However, this focus often overlooks later phases, such as content adaption, localization and distribution. As a result, we often see a breakdown, and the global brand strategy is not delivered at the local shopping level—specifically on the product detail page (PDP). This can be a huge problem when you consider 81% of customers who bought a brand-name product on a primary marketplace in the last three months recalled the PDP—but only 25% of those same consumers recalled the TV commercial for the same product.4

It’s easy to forget how quickly the numbers stack up as brands chase gross merchandise volume (GMV) from new channels, as well as the toll this takes on the marketing and commerce teams who are still working on an outdated merchandising model. It wouldn’t take long for an international company with multiple brands expanding sales across all five digital sales channels to hit 1 million PDPs. Expecting chief marketing officers (CMOs) and other C-suite members to master every channel at the local level, manage massive amounts of data and content, and run thousands of storefronts and campaigns worldwide is a lot to ask. Fortunately, these business leaders don’t have to go it alone.

Get ahead with headless merchandising

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to merchandising on the global stage. Fortunately, Accenture has developed a headless approach to merchandising. It’s specifically designed to help brands with ambitious global targets to reset their digital commerce operations. With adaptability and agility at the core, this approach standardizes capabilities across all digital sales channels, enabling brands to quickly activate new channels and markets and enhance each unique shopping experience. Scalable operations, sustainable revenue growth and cost efficiency quickly follow suit. And in today’s talent market, the ability to grow without having to increase headcount at the same pace is refreshing.

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Headless merchandising is a new approach in digital commerce operations that focuses on adaptability and agility by standardizing capabilities across all digital sales channels, enabling brands to quickly activate new channels and markets and enhance each unique shopping experience. At Accenture, this scalable orchestration of people, technologies and processes is powered by SynOps.

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With headless merchandising, organizations can celebrate the uniqueness of each market rather than feel hindered by it. Brands can also adapt and simplify their processes while encouraging cross-functional collaboration. However, what truly makes headless merchandising a powerful asset for any organization is that it can be customized for any client and further adapted as it’s scaled.

Indeed, we are living in a new age where digital brand experiences trump traditional media. And yet, when surveyed about their organization’s maturity, only 9% of marketers reported that their business is future-ready.5 Companies that want to make the most of this new world need to embrace digital commerce transformation to truly meet consumers where they shop. Headless merchandising offers brands the opportunity to do exactly that in a way that’s agile, flexible and aligned with their business objectives. 

Want to learn more about the transformative power of headless merchandising? Connect with one of our experienced individuals and discover how your organization can find merchandising success on the global stage.


1 Accenture, Grow Digital Commerce Study (12,000 consumers across US, Mexico, China, Japan, India, Australia, UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain), 2022

2 Forbes, Five Undeniable Truths About Marketing to Gen Z, 2021

3 Accenture Is it time for a course correction?, 2020

4 Accenture, BXC POV & Offering

5 Accenture, Elevate every decision with intelligent marketing operations, 2022

Marc Caudron

Senior Manager – Digital Commerce Operations

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