The past ten years have done a good deal of culling in high street retail, with e-commerce growing and shifting purchases online. Since Covid-19 lockdowns began in March 2020, the grocery side of retail has seen a surge in demand as people work and eat at home, joined by children who are also home from school. Traditional retailers have had their supply chains stretched, while coffee shops have harnessed their local networks by offering provisions in store.

The sector’s scope for innovation and change is significant, accelerated by the pandemic and creating different roles for the 2.2m people working in the sector in the UK. A free, online course designed by Accenture seeks to address this by providing six hours of trusted curriculum to current retail employees and frontliners.

The Digital Skills: Retail course covers the shift in customer expectations and how digital creates new touchpoints for their experience. Understanding how to capture insights on changing consumer behaviour is the stuff of data analytics - the course shows how data collected by software informs the operational decisions that managers are making. Connected devices in the context of Internet of Things amplify the richness of the information, offering new feedback loops for post-retail experiences and the importance of specialist, in-store expertise.