Research report

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture Technology Vision 2018 research identified Internet of Thinking as a key trend creating the foundation for future enterprise growth.
  • One of five trends—Internet of Thinking combines the cloud and edge computing to enable retailers to act on and analyze data without a time lag.
  • To meet new expectations, retailers must find new ways to compete and create customer-led experiences that are immersive and personalized.

Are you thinking about the right tools to think faster?

Retail has become a race to win the consumer, making speed a key capability. But while retailers, especially in fast fashion, are willing to take chances with inventory and regularly change what they sell, few ever change how they sell.

In an increasingly purpose-driven world, where competing in retail means proving to customers that retail deserves space in their lives, the Internet of Thinking toolset will be critical. It will let retailers quickly launch new kinds of pilots, like last-mile delivery and returns, alternative payment methods and immersive in-store experiences, with an end goal of surfacing new business opportunities that enable purposeful customer experiences. Leaders will have experimental and creative mindsets, and those who fail to change will fall behind.

The Internet of Thinking combines cloud and edge computing power to deliver intelligence everywhere, at the speed of thought. This enables businesses to analyze and act on data where it is generated—triggering decisions instantly—without a time lag.

Focus on experimentation

To successfully utilize the Internet of Thinking toolset, retailers must emulate fast fashion and focus on quick experimentation. By developing pilots that experiment with new, customer-led experiences, they can bring new forms of intelligence into the footprint of their traditional “store.” Focusing on proof of success rather than scalability will let them explore trends before they become saturated and will give them an early advantage for drawing customers to their physical environments.

Retail companies will need to embrace a landscape full of experiments and recognize failures quickly. Retailers must maintain good relationships within their partner ecosystems, design flexible experiments and move on quickly when experiments don’t pan out. Above all, they must embrace a culture of constant trial and error.

The Internet of Thinking toolset will help retailers with the ability to transform in-store experiences, sell faster and differentiate themselves.

Making in-store experiences customer-led

The fundamental definition of retail is evolving. Today, it centers on the relationship between consumer and merchant, enabling commerce across a broad set of needs. To that end, experimenting with physical retail, such as intelligent environments and immersive experiences, should be intentional and purpose-driven. Understanding customer pain points, and running pilots that solve those pain points, promises to transform the retail experience—from deciding to go shopping all the way through the checkout process.

The Internet of Thinking will help businesses meet their customers where they are. The vast majority of retail transactions happen in-store, but consumers are empowered to shop around for lower prices. This makes in-store experiences, that cater to customer needs and solve customer pain points, hugely impactful. The brands that established themselves as trusted partners to consumers will win their loyalty.

About the Authors

Vish Ganapathy

Managing Director – Global Retail Technology Lead

Kieran Mongon

Principal Director – Technology Consulting, Retail

Leo Muid

Senior Manager – Technology Consulting, Retail


Maria McGinley

Senior Principal – Technology Research and Development

Naomi Nishihara

Associate Principal – Technology Research


Technology vision retail
Internet of Thinking
Retail with Purpose

Subscription Center
Stay in the Know with Our Newsletter Stay in the Know with Our Newsletter