Retailers and consumer goods companies could unlock some US$2.95 trillion in value for the industry and consumers over the next decade by accelerating digital transformation, according to a report by Accenture Strategy. This article is copyright 2017 The Best Customer Guide.

Investments in new, digitally-driven business models will give consumers greater choice around how they purchase goods and services, and enable companies to deliver profitable, differentiated experiences.

Accenture Strategy's 'Painting the Digital Future of Retail and Consumer Goods Companies' report, based on analysis for the World Economic Forum, quantified the impact of digital transformation on consumer industries over the next decade. The study identified current consumer appetite for new purchasing experiences, the business models that have the highest potential to unlock new value, and how organizations and policymakers can prepare themselves.

Today, 37% of U.S. consumers would allow companies to collect their personal data via intelligent devices in return for a better experience or financial reward. Another 37% would subscribe to a service that constantly looks for the best pricing deals on their behalf, and actively recommends which company to switch to, and when.

Over a quarter (26%) of U.S. consumers would use sensor-based digital services that pre-emptively address their needs without human intervention. Another 24% would subscribe to brands that analyze their shopping history to select products especially for them, and orders them automatically.

To reach the next frontier of digital commerce, retailers and consumer goods companies need to explore the following transformative business models which are already being welcomed by U.S. consumers:

As a by-product of industry transformation, there is potential disruption for people and society which companies, policymakers and regulators need to actively address to:

  • Minimize impact on local communities - With an increasing number of retail stores downsizing or closing due to the rise of digital commerce, local communities need to respond by businesses and government establishing economic development strategies and partnering with communities to repurpose physical space as hubs for experiences, leisure and lifestyle activities.
  • Reskill the workforce - Emerging technologies will drive a range of efficiencies which will significantly change the nature of the industry's workforce. Business leaders and policymakers must focus on accelerating reskilling people, creating partnerships with educational institutions, and influencing public policy to meet the needs of the future workforce.
  • Ensure sustainability - Meeting consumer demand for rapid delivery needs to be achieved in parallel to minimizing environmental impact. Shifting to electric vehicles and exploring load-sharing can help while also enhancing delivery efficiency. Furthermore, innovation in packaging design and supporting recycling infrastructure is also critical, helping to build a more circular economy.

"The next decade will be a golden age for consumers, with technological innovation creating a variety of shopping experiences that will give consumers the simplicity, convenience or excitement they crave," said Chris Donnelly, senior managing director, global retail lead, Accenture Strategy. "Out of the $2.95 trillion in value the report identified, consumers have the most to gain - just over $2 trillion - through cost and time savings. The success of retailers and consumer goods companies to unlock value will be dependent on their ability to gain a deep understanding of consumers, embrace disruptive technologies and adopt innovative business models."

"To thrive in the next decade, organizations must aggressively pursue innovation and be willing to disrupt themselves. The winners will be those organizations that prioritize adopting a partnership mindset to offer customers new value, innovatively meet consumer demand for new services, and implement advanced data sciences to derive deeper customer insight to enable better decision-making," concluded Donnelly.