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Retail at the edge: new opportunities for customers and retailers

Watch Accenture’s video about leveraging innovation to win in retailing and learn about the extreme customers and opportunities that they create.


Customers have moved ahead. They expect to interact with retailers in new ways. They are shopping around for the right retailers to meet their needs. They are not interested in the methods of yesterday.

Amid the whirlwind of ever-shifting trends, predicting where the customer will land is nearly impossible. So, what can a retailer do? Now is the time to be at the edge, looking out at the digital world, finding opportunities to adapt faster and ratchet up appeal to customers.


Customers are adopting new technologies and communication channels at faster paces than ever. Governments are changing overnight—succumbing to the power of the connected people. And new competitors are popping up at every corner, and at rapid rates.

Right now, retailers have the opportunity to push the boundaries to create new experiences for their customers and tap new value streams for their companies. This shift means out with the old and in with the new—legacy is over.

Key Findings
Through deep research into retail trends, Accenture identified examples of these extreme customers and envisioned the opportunities that they create for retailers at the edge:

The Influence Marketplace
A world where the cost of building awareness is negligible and a company’s success is predicated on whether its products and services are noteworthy enough for people to spread the word.

Influence is the currency in this model.

Context Retailing
The context for customer interaction shifts from stores/channels/our turf to their turf: their home, car or social setting. Companies present products and offers within a dynamic kaleidoscope of demand pockets, wherever the customer is at that moment of need. The challenge is to deliver tangible relevance in distributed, varied contexts.

The Streaming Environment
Retailers become the Netflix of solutions, streaming bundled solutions to meet customers’ specific needs. Delivered through a variety of ownership models, goods and services are relevant for the customer across channel, across time and across company.


When exploring opportunities at the edge of retail, ask yourself the same question your customers are asking—why not? Why can’t I get it the way I want it? Why can’t you offer the same products in store as online? Why can’t you provide me access anywhere and at any time? Why can’t I be rewarded for the influence I have on your brands?

You can choose to stand still and observe the changes, or to ask, why not create new experiences and new value? And why not now?

To envision the right opportunities to seize in retail, look no further than the “extreme” customers who are setting tomorrow’s trends. Who are these customers?

They are the ones fueling the growth of new, small entrants by flexing the power of their social network. They are using technology to overturn traditional modes of shopping. They keep a constant eye on the digital landscape, looking for new providers that can meet their needs better than traditional retailers.

Accenture is helping retail leaders open their minds to unconventional approaches of engaging with customers and employees, implementing shrewd strategies to gain insight quicker and turn it into actions that truly affect their customers. And the focus is on being prompt and disciplined about execution.