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Accenture acquires HRC Retail Advisory to expand retail strategy capability

August 23, 2021

In July 2021, Accenture announced an agreement to acquire HRC Retail Advisory, a Chicago-based provider of management consulting services to the retail industry. HRC’s mission is to help retailers to navigate through disruption and improve profitability and competitiveness. HRC’s team of over 30 employees across North America will join Accenture’s Retail Strategy group as a part of the acquisition.

This is Accenture’s third retail-focused acquisition in recent times, coming on the heels of Businet System and REPL Group acquisitions. Businet System operates Salesforce Commerce Cloud-based e-commerce sites in Japan, with a proprietary order management system (OMS) for the apparel and retail industries. REPL Group is a U.K.-based technology consultancy specializing in solutions for supply chain, workforce management, store operations, and retail customer experiences.

The retail industry is forced to innovate across the value chain due to the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic’s dramatic changes to buyer behavior and supply chain disruption have required retailers and CPG firms to dramatically rethink strategy and operations. Retail and CPG respondents to a recent study indicated that accelerating digital initiatives, virtual customer experience, and de-risking the supply chain (see Exhibit 1).  These firms are increasingly looking to partners to advise on digital modernization and for insight on how to better align to the customer and understand their requirements.  Similarly, they need help in re-imagining the supply chain to meet demand and increasing customer expectations.

Exhibit 1: Retail and CPG are accelerating digital modernization to survive

Sample: N= 70 retail and CPG respondents
Source: HFS Research, 2020

At this point, the acquisition of HRC advisory is a well-planned step Accenture took to make sure it expands its capabilities to help clients transform their businesses. Services offered by HRC Advisory are as shown in Exhibit 2.  HRC Retail Advisory leverages its skills and capabilities for strategy consulting, benchmarking, retail performance improvement, analytics, and organizational design. It engages with large retailers across North America to improve firms’ profitability and working capital.

Exhibit 2: Services by HRC Advisory

Source: HRC Advisory

Other service providers have been strengthening their capabilities in the Retail domain

Accenture’s competitors have been working on newer offerings/solutions to help retail clients out of this post-pandemic consumer expectations and adapting to the new normal. Some of these examples include:

  • Capgemini launched CornerShop to transform the in-store shopping experience. It will support retailers and brands to understand how digital innovation can enable new ways to evolve the customer experience, improve in-store operations, and allow consumers to rediscover the joy of in-person retail.
  • TCS built AlgoRetail, a framework that uses AI, machine learning, and IoT to extract actionable insights from heterogeneous data.
  • Firms are acquiring data analytics firms to help their retail offerings. Different analytics companies like Enquero (acquisition by Genpact) have been assisting in-store traffic management, warning systems for pain points, Supply chain planning, employee engagement, etc.
The Bottom Line: HRC Retail Advisory will further strengthen Accenture retail strategy and consulting services along with technology expertise

HRC Retail Advisory and the other acquisitions of Businet and REPL continue to make Accenture a sought-after service provider for its retail clients. The pandemic has permanently disrupted the retail landscape; retail businesses need a complete transformation to survive and remain competitive. Accenture, leveraging the combined expertise of its acquisitions, is helping retailers to pivot their businesses to thrive in the new economy.

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