In a sign of the growing incursion consulting firms have made on terrain once held by digital agencies, retailer Belk has tapped management consultancy Accenture to execute its push into cross-channel selling.
The consulting firm was chosen from a field of 10 suitors to support the North Carolina-based department store chain's five-year, $200 million "omni-channel transformation initiative," as outlined by its CEO Thomas Belk during a National Retail Federation keynote one year ago.
Accenture will support the effort with improvements to Belk's in-store and digital experiences – including Belk.com – as well as enhancements in analytics, marketing and fulfillment. For instance, the family-owned chain wants to use its store inventory both to back up web-based orders and to fulfill orders placed in other stores if a customer can't find their preferred item in the right size. The goal of the fulfillment initiative -- called "Yes, we have it" -- is to reduce the incidents of missed sales from lack of available inventory.
Dorlisa Flur, Belk's EVP Omnichannel, said the competitive review involved partners with consultative or strategic capabilities.
"We were looking for someone who could blend strategic skills, as well as, how do you get things done in a scrappy way to show you can drive value early on?" Flur said. "The company had to have some kind of a consulting presence -- not just an ad agency and not just a systems integrator."
Flur said 2014 will be a "build year" within each of its project areas, with 2015 providing "synergistic impact."
Accenture won the business in late 2013. In a press release, it described its process this way: "Enabled by accurate and timely data, analytic insights are used to revamp traditional approaches to marketing, pricing, promotion, assortment and fulfillment."