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Tom Brouillette Thoughts at Large

695 posts


The mobile foundation is structured to allow for ease of introduction and integration of new features and functionality rather than any specific technology or network structure.  Brick and mortar retailers add to this mobile foundation with easy and robust WiFi network access for consumers while their stores so the consumers can utilize their mobile functionality and tools while in the store to support their mobile shopping and networking with friends.  It is frankly impossible to predict the direction or types of mobile tools that will come onto the market with any kind of accuracy so instead the retailer must be prepared with a flexible, extendable and robust foundation that provides easy access and supports the networking demands of the consumer.

 

The mobile foundation must be open from a technology perspective to allow posting and sharing of communications between and across consumer members of the retailer’s shopping site and retailer loyalty program. The loyalty program will now provide a means for consumers to connect and network with other members of the program based on the same types of social interaction as are utilized in other social networks.  The foundational platform is open networking technology and then a loyalty program that promotes social networking and sharing across the loyalty program members.  The retailer must spend the time and effort to develop their loyalty program into a social networking program that supports a colloborative network of loyalty program members across the membership. 

 

Another factor that retailers must take into account with this mobile foundation is the human resource demands that will be placed on the retailer to provide community management support.  Community management is critical to the vitality and the overall safety of the social shopping site and shared shopping experience that must be developed by the retailer.  A social shopping site brings the same concerns and requirements as any social networking site as it relates to the consumer.  It is the retailer's responsibility to provide a safe environment for the consumer and this means they must manage and expel trouble makers and ensure the networking messages are appropriate and not offensive to other consumers.  This in itself requires a great deal of time monitor and then add to that the message monitoring required to respond to consumer questions and you can see the level of support required for the site.

 

The retailer must turn their loyalty program into a social networking program to provide a foundation structure that can be embraced by the new mobile shopping demands of the consumer.  This requires the greatest effort and level of management to provide a sound mobile foundation for their shopping network site.  The retailer must be very careful and vigilant to maintain the safety of their site because the consumer will walk away from the site if they find an continuously offensive or inappropriate site activities.



And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

tbrouill

Omni Channel Mobile Factor

Posted by tbrouill Jul 21, 2016

I do not think that anyone would argue that the rise of mobile technology tools and practices has had a huge impact on the omni channel shopping and purchasing model.  The impact of mobile technology on the omni channel market has probably been as great as the impact of the Internet on retail purchasing.  This impact is also being driven by the acceptance and embracing of the mobile technology by consumers.  This impact, like most game-changing practices, is being driven now by the consumer and the consumer is putting together the tools and capabilities in the mobile sphere in manners that have not been foreseen by the retail market.  The retail market and especially large retailers must accept and embrace this fact in order to maintain their success in the future.  This is why I have been focused on a robust and flexible foundation to support the changes demanded by the consumer.

 

I feel this is critically important to large retailers because it is a new trend in consumer demanded and led retail shopping and purchasing capabilities.  This is the beginning of a new trend in retail from consumers to support the ability to shop and network in their shopping with friends and family.  This trend is driven by consumers and their use of mobile technology and network capabilities.  Consumers want to shop with their social network, shopping and retail as a social network trend is going to become the next big trend in retail.

 

The omni channel mobile factor is going to reshape the foundation and best practices of retailers and the retail industry as a whole.  I don’t think I am over inflating this factor, the mobile factor is changing and will change the whole retail industry in ways that we can’t currently imagine, it will change the industry and the industry must embrace the opportunity now so that it can grow and succeed into the future.  The only thing that we can be sure of is that we must brace and prepare for the change and more importantly for the velocity of change.  Just over the last couple of years, in hindsight, you can trace the velocity of change and the impact on the retail industry as a whole as a result of the mobile factor.  This is just the beginning though because these changes have been the result of a growing penetration of mobile technology. 

 

As we reach greater and greater penetration of the mobile acceptance by the consumer we will see greater and greater impact from consumer demands.  This mobile factor is really turning the table on the retail industry as consumers are putting together their own solutions utilizing mobile apps to create a shopping network that is focused on their needs.  The only thing for sure is the rate of change will increase and this means that retailers must embrace the mobile factor to succeed.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

tbrouill

Omni Channel Human Factor

Posted by tbrouill Jul 18, 2016


The initial attraction of the eCommerce channel I think was the ability of retailers to provide a means for consumers to purchase at any time and now with the explosion of mobile technology it allows to purchase from any place.  This was essentially the introduction of omni channel purchasing and it was very successful and also very profitable for retailers because eCommerce does not require sales clerks or a brick and mortar outlet to support.  There is an interesting turn now developing in the omni channel market of the human social interaction and the importance of this human interaction in the omni channel marketplace.  This human factor is on display now through the reaction of consumers to social network recommendation interactions and Facebook supported sales channels.

 

Large retailers have started to realize that they cannot hope to maintain a long term success based on a lowest price and continuous cost reduction strategy.  This strategy does not promote or encourage the return of consumers to purchase from the large retailer, this strategy promotes exact opposite relationship with consumers that large retailers require to be successful.  The large retailers must promote a relationship with the consumer that encourages interaction and collaboration with the consumer in order to encourage the consumer to return and to encourage the consumer to socialize with friends and interact with the retailer. 

 

This required focus on the consumer relationship is the great shift in this next phase of the omni channel marketplace.  This development is coming to focus now with the increased usage and capabilities of mobile technology that allows the consumer to not only purchase any time and any place, it also allows the consumer to interact with their entire social network at any time and in any place.  This electronic interaction with both retailer and consumer social network will allow the retailer to develop and promote a personalized relationship with consumers to allow the interaction any time and in any place. 

 

This opportunity must be seized by large retailers in order to change the relationship with their customers from a demand for low prices to a relationship that provide additional personalized services to encourage the customer to return and bring their friends and social network contacts to the new retail experience.  Retailers must understand that this relationship shopping is being driven by the consumer and not as a response to any offering from the retailer. 

 

This consumer reaction and practice is the result of consumers desires and attempts to introduce a human factor to to the purchasing practices.  This is the reaction of consumers to take advantage of tools offered by mobile technology to allow them to introduce a human factor through social networks to the purchasing practices and by doing this to develop an omni channel shopping capability that supports the demands of purchasing any time and any place.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Relationship development is all about the personal connection and social networking tools and sites such as Facebook or Google+ are the tools that support the development of that personal connection and relationship in a virtual setting.  The strength of these tools is in the way that they provide a timeline of interaction and the fact that these interactions can be accessed from any technology platform.  The challenge then for the retailer is how do you create a site that supports the social networking tools such as Pinterest or Instagram or even SnapChat to support the personal connection and provide the support for the relationship timeline.  This virtual platform requires a blend of eCommerce and social networking capabilities to allow the consumer  to create and maintain the virtual relationship in their shopping experience.

 

In order to blend the eCommerce and social networking capabilities the retailer will need to add an entry site, or layer, that brings together these tools and sits on top of the eCommerce purchasing platform as a new shopping home page.  This new home page requires flexibility of both capabilities and the networking tools utilization to allow for the continuous change that must be supported by the site.  As I have previously discussed, what I call the new shopping home page must focus on the social side of shopping which means it must provide the means to interact with other consumers and friends in a virtual shopping experience.  This shopping experience provides a portal into the social networking tools that enhance and create a virtual shopping experience.

 

A key requirement though for the success of this concept is the people behind the scenes that support the interaction and integrate new features and functionality to encourage the return and participation of the customer and their friends.  It's the people behind the tools that humanize the platform to create the virtual interaction and shopping experience.  This is a key factor and key requirement for the success of this concept, it must be continuously refreshed by a site management team in order to continuously refresh and support the demands of the customer.  Behind this site management team also requires big data strategy that collects the vast amount of information that will be available from this shopping home page to a marketing team that utilizes the data to identify trends in both shopping and purchasing in order to guide the maintenance and continuous renewal of the shopping and purchasing platforms.

 

I think one of the key challenges for the large retailer is to understand the importance of the human factors in the maintenance and renewal of the shopping and purchasing platforms.  While the presentation is all technology related, the human design and support provide the reasons for the consumer to return over and over again. This requires long term  commitment and continuous investment in order to maintain the freshness and interest for the consumer and this is also the factor that is easiest to overlook.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


A key factor in continued success in the retail environment is the retailer’s relationship with the consumer.  Retailers have begun to understand that the relationship with the consumer must include more than simply offering the lowest prices for the products.  This lowest price strategy and everyday sales has created an unsustainable market for most major retailers and they are also finding that this focus only encourages the consumer to shop when there are sales and dramatic discounts.  The key to customer retention and the regular return of consumers to the retailer is the relationship with the retailer and this relationship must be built on more than low price in order to be sustainable for the retailer. 

 

The retailer must develop a relationship with the consumer that is beneficial to both the retailer and the consumer.  This relationship between the retailer and the consumer must not be focused on any one channel.  It is critical that the omni channel retail marketplace must develop the customer relationship across both the virtual and physical channels in order to be successful and maintain a long lasting relationship with the consumer that benefits both the retailer and the consumer.  The means to identify the consumer across channels has already been put into place by the retailers, the loyalty program.  This program was initially instituted to track consumer purchasing and focus sales offerings to the consumer based on past purchases, now this loyalty program must be extended to focus on the mutually beneficial relationship between the retailer and the consumer. 

 

This loyalty program must be expanded to build an omni channel relationship program.  I know that retailers already use the loyalty program ID across all channels, this is important because it allows the retailer to track consumer sales and provide the purchase benefits to the consumer.  This program though needs to be expanded into a true relationship program and expand the program to include a type of advisory capability along with a social networking aspect.  The loyalty program provides an incentive to the customer to purchase from the retailer while the addition of the relationship development aspect of the program would provide the customer an incentive to linger at the site socializing and also encourage friends to join and participate. 

 

This participation aspect of the program is a key factor in the future success and growth of the large retailer.  Think about your local independent coffee shop or independent book seller.  You return to these places over and over because you have developed a relationship with them and the employees there.  They get to know you and understand your likes and dislikes based on conversations over time and they are able to make suggestions based on your tastes and also value your opinions on products or offerings.  Its not to say that you won’t purchase from Amazon or Dunkin Donuts but on the other hand you always return to your local shops.  The goal of the large retailer must be to develop that personal relationship to ensure the return and participation of the customers.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The large retailer must change the manner in which they interact with the consumer in order to succeed with the younger generation of millennials and younger.  This will allow the retailer to develop a relationship with the younger consumers in order to encourage them to return and purchase as the result of the relationship, rather than because they are offering a lower price for the product.  Younger shoppers are searching for value for their purchase and they are searching for the virtual relationship and a method to shop with their friends in the virtual environment.  The virtual relationship is the key to younger customer retention and also younger customer attraction to the retailer.  I see the younger consumers focused on the virtual relationship in all manner of interaction with each other and this virtual relationship requirement bleeds over into other areas including retail shopping and purchasing activities.

 

I think that sometimes the retailer becomes intimidated by the changes in the social networking framework and the fear of the costs required to support these changes.  I think though that these costs and the the velocity of discontinuous change can be managed through a focus on process and functional strategy rather than the technical tools..  Social networking changes can seem overwhelming when you are viewing from the peripheral where you simply see changes and it feels like the social networking tools are changing as soon as you understand and incorporate into your strategy.  I see this in a different manner, the younger generation is refining their tools and usage when a tool becomes available that meets their needs.  In other words, I believe and have come to understand that the younger generation does not change their social interaction underlying process, they are simply changing the tool they use to perform that process.  The underlying process remains the same and they are refining their capabilities and methods to perform that process.  This is why I believe that the retailer must focus on the process and functional strategy rather than the technical tools.

 

This all means that the retailer can focus on the social networking and virtual shopping functionality provided by the shopping home page to ensure the functionality meets the demands of all consumers and can simply introduce tools to help with the virtual shopping that help to refine or extend the functionality.  If the retailer follows the same strategy and the consumer and especially the younger generation consumers they can maintain and support the functionality through refinements of the tools.  This will still require a great deal of focus and research in the social networking tools however the refinement strategy provides a more consistent and cost effective approach for the retailer.  

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Developing a customer pipeline is a long term challenge and large retailers must develop and support a long term strategy to develop and support this strategy.  This customer pipeline must also work across all channels as an omni channel customer pipeline that provides visibility and customer collaboration opportunities and encouragement across all retail channels. In other words, this pipeline requires similar skills and capabilities as the consumer collaborative shopping home page and should be considered as a feature and objective of that collaborative shopping homepage.  The pipeline then is the results and outcome of the collaborative shopping home page and a key to the long term success of the retailer.

 

Most retailers now have a customer loyalty program in place that provides benefits for purchases and also notifications of special sales and prices.  These loyalty programs allow retailers to track and understand the purchasing patterns of their customers to help them focus offers on the specific shopping patterns of the customer.  This loyalty program is a great start but it is only reactionary and after the fact of the purchase.  In order to build the customer pipeline the retailer must incorporate the information obtained as a result of the loyalty program into the collaborative shopping homepage social network capabilities to personalize the shopping and the networking experience to encourage the customer return for the social network opportunities and retain the interest of customers in a collaborative environment that combines collaborative networking and shopping in a way that encourages continued return and participation. 

 

There are many consumer surveys that state that the younger generation consumer is interested more in quality and value than in price, in other words they are shopping first for the type and quality of the product and then the price.  This tells me that a retailer focus on lowest cost is not only missing the mark on customer loyalty, more important they are missing the mark on developing a customer pipeline of younger consumers.  This is the greatest loss though because the customer pipeline is the single greatest factor for the long term success of the retailer.

 

Large retailers must develop a relationship with younger generation consumers in order to ensure the long term success of their business.  I believe that developing this relationship with younger consumers depends on many factors and unfortunately the methods that the younger generations utilize to address these factors are regularly changing.  I see a key factor to supporting and bridging these changing methods to be the incorporation and development of the collaborative shopping homepage that supports the changing social networking tools and practices of these younger generation.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The large retailer’s customer pipeline has been disrupted by the combination of the omni channel retail purchasing framework, social networking tools and the generational change in socializing and shopping practices.  Now retailers must adjust their customer acquisition strategy to account for these changes or they risk the continued loss of sales and market share.  Retailers can no longer focus on a low cost strategy and hope to maintain and grow their customer base.  The low cost model does nothing to promote customer loyalty, new customer acquisition and retention and so retailers must update their customer pipeline strategy to take into account the changes in the marketplace that are being driven by generational changes in shopping and socializing.

 

The difficulty lies in the retailer’s ability to understand and accept the level and velocity of change that is required to support the demands of the younger generations of consumers.  There is a great deal of discussion related to younger generations and their embrace of technology from a young age impacting their social skills and their relationships.  The crux of this discussion is the embrace of technology by younger generations to socialize and engage with others.  This practice changes their relationships with peers and friends and family and more importantly to the retailer it changes the way that these younger consumers interact with the retailer. 

 

The retailer must take these methods of interaction into account in their relationship development with younger generation consumers.  The retailer’s customer pipeline provides the framework to interest and encourage consumers to shop and purchase and in order to be successful this pipeline must communicate consumers in a manner in which consumers can relate.  This pipeline is the lifeline of the retailer and provides the continuous flow of consumer interaction with the retailer. Without this pipeline the retailer’s sales would dry up and the retailer would fail.  Unfortunately most large retailers have replaced this relationship pipeline with a low cost strategy to attract and retain customers.

 

Retailers have found that the low cost strategy to attract customers is a losing proposition for them because there is always another retailer willing to to reduce the cost and more importantly because it does nothing to promote customer loyalty or retention.  I find it interesting that small and local retailers have not run into this problem with retention and I think it's because they have always focused on the relationship and not the low cost. Large retailers used to understand and encourage the practice of customer relationship development and they have lost this focus as a result of focus on reducing costs.  Based on all of the reports in the industry this strategy of cost reduction has finally been proven to be counterproductive for most retailers  and now these same retailers must re-learn the ability to develop this relationship. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


I recently received an email discussing the impact of multiple generations in the workplace and I thought that is also a great correlation in the retail marketplace.  Retailers, and especially large retailers, must also take into account multiple generations shopping and purchasing across channels.  This requires the retailer to communicate and collaborate across generations in the manner in which the end customer demands and so the Millennials and Generation Z consumers are demanding collaboration and social interaction in channels in which Baby Boomers are not even aware.  This presents a huge challenge for the retailer to incorporate the communications and the take advantage of the social networking tools and capabilities.

 

This requires the retailer to support a wide variety of tools and messages based on the methods that are embraced by consumers which is a great challenge for the retailer that in general is not comfortable with the leading edge of technology.  This requires a staff made up of multiple generations and requires encouragement of participation from the multiple generations in order to communicate to the multiple generations of consumers.  This challenge must be met with a focus on the process along with the messages that focus on the generation because the social networking tools will change in a manner and velocity that is not normally supportable by the large retailer.

 

The velocity of change driven by the social networking tools and the generational use of these tools is incredible and the velocity of change is only speeding up.  This requires a flexibility in the technical foundation to support the continuous addition and removal of tools.  This process though is not a one for one action, in other words, you won’t swap out a tool when a new tool is added.  On the contrary, the new tool from last month may become mainstream, in which case it must be maintained and the message expanded to reach out to additional generations.  By the same token, there will be quite a few tools that will flash in popularity and then be replaced by a new tool. 

 

The objective of this process is to build a pipeline of customers for the retailer by specializing the message and the delivery method to the generation.  I think that many large retailers have struggled with the pipeline of new and younger customers because they have been reaching out to younger consumers using the same tools and message that they use for older existing customers.  This just doesn’t work and a big part of the reason it doesn’t work is the delivery mechanism used by the retailer.  As an example the large retailer is focused on their Facebook page for message delivery and the younger generation, under 23 for instance, retally does not use Facebook any more.  The retailer must deliver the message and communicate with the younger generation using the same tools used by the younger generation.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Retailers must work very hard to identify, understand and incorporate new social networking tools at a pace that for many of the large retailers is unprecedented and very uncomfortable for them.  Very few retailers could be considered leaders in technology and this is exactly what is necessary for retailers to remain successful in the future.  The retailers must embrace and incorporate new social networking technologies with the understanding that many of these investments will be dropped from their portfolios in a short period of time.  The retailer must embrace this strategy though no matter how uncomfortable in order to be able to prosper in the future and maintain their customer base.

 

This strategy is directly at odds with most retailers’ historic direction and strategy which is to be, at most a leader at technology and let others be at the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology.  Now, however, in order for retailers to survive it is not enough to have a presence on Facebook or Twitter, or Pinterest, or Instagram.  Now retailers must push their usage of social networking tools into embracing the new tools in their social network strategy as the tools are introduced and only beginning to spread in acceptance.  If the retailer waits until the tools become ‘mainstream’ as they normally would the retailer will be missing out on engaging the millennial consumers as they are leading the experimentation with the new social networking tools.

 

This change in strategy is critical to the success of the retailer as it will help them to engage the important millennial consumer in the manner demanded by that consumer.  This new strategy will be very unsettling for the retailer for quite some time until they become accustomed to the level and velocity of change demanded.  For all intents and purposes, as soon as the baby boomer accepts and begins to utilize a new social networking tool you can count on the millennial having already moved on to a new trend.  In order to compensate for the change in tools, the retailer must focus on the networking and social collaboration process.  It is the process that will be required to support the utilization and incorporation of new tools into the shopping home page.  It is also the process that will allow the retailer to maintain momentum and the social networking strategy and not require wholesale foundational change with each new tool. 

 

I have no idea where these trends and new social networking tools will take us and the retailer cannot afford to wait until the trend goes mainstream due to the potential loss of customers.  The retailer must focus on the process that allows incorporation of new tools to support the process.  The process in this case of course is the collaboration with the consumer that is the basis of the social networking.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Consumers will return to a shopping site based on the tools that are offered to support the networking and the community atmosphere of a virtual mall.  The challenge in selecting and embracing the tools that interest and are in demand by the consumer is complicated by the changing demands of the consumer.  Technology is moving forward and changing the capabilities of networking on what seems to be a daily basis with new capabilities delivered every day to divert the consumer’s attention.  The challenge, it seems, for the omni channel retailer is to maintain awareness of the changes so the appropriate tools and practices can be incorporated into the virtual shopping home page.

 

Maintaining this awareness is a full time job that requires an open and inquisitive disposition in order to experiment with the tools and collaborate with consumers to determine how to integrate the usage in the shopping site.  This is something that must be actively monitored and maintained because of the changing demands of the consumers.  There are basically two groups of consumers that utilize social networking tools in very different ways and because of this the retailer’s requirement to maintain an awareness and incorporate these tools can be especially difficult.  The two groups of consumers consist of:

  1. Millennial consumers that are continuously experimenting with new technology and social networking tools.  This group is pretty exclusively focused on the new tools and technology and are quick to move on to new technology as it becomes available.
  2. Mainstream, or older consumers that are more ingrained in mainstream social networking tools and technologies.  This group is the vast majority of shoppers and the least fickle in both their social networking and their shopping habits.

 

These two groups are important to each other and especially important to the retailer because of the way that they work together.  The millennials are the early adopters and the experimenters that identify new trends in both technology and networking tools and then other consumers will adopt the new technologies as they expand into the mainstream and are accepted by the majority in their daily usage. Each new social networking tool has followed the same trajectory in usage where the millennials experiment and build practices to integrate the technology in their lives prior to the mainstream even realizing there is a new technology to use for networking.

 

In order to succeed retailers will need to accept and support both types of consumers and and a variety of social networking tools.  The difficult aspect for retailers will be the necessity, willingness to encourage and embrace social networking technologies that will fail.  There is no way for the retailer to predict success in any technology and for this reason they must accept the need to embrace new technology quickly and then accept the fact that much of the new technology must also be dropped just as quickly. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The value of the retail shopping community and the shopping home page will need to be determined through measurements and performance indicators that are much different that those used today.  Of course sales themselves will continue to be an important performance indicator and there will be others such as longevity on the site and types of activities and locations on the site visited.  I think some of the most important measurements of the community are the number of community members and the number of members that visit in a time period.  Outside of the sales performance measurements I am suggesting that the  shopping community and especially the shopping home page be measured on social networking statistics.

 

The social aspect of shopping and purchasing is growing now based on the demands of consumers and especially their usage of mobile technology.  Consumers have been expanding their use of social networks and third party services and mobile apps to enhance their shopping and purchasing techniques and practices.  Social networking sites have started to offer content and shopping or product offers based on your activities and the places and stories you access.  Both Facebook and Google base their income in large part on ads and these ads are becoming more and more sophisticated and pervasive in all of the consumer's’ online activities.  Retailers must embrace the social community practices in their shopping home page to maintain and grow the consumer activities and the retailer shopping home page must provide a wide selection of both networking and product offerings that can be delivered to the consumer based on their activities and visits of the home page. 

 

In order to be successful in these new offerings the retailer must be able to measure the success based on the social networking performance indicators in addition to the historical sales information.  One of the key performance indicators then is time on the site and how often does the consumer return.  These types of measure measurements provide the basis for adjusting the site makeup and content based on the reactions of the community members.  In my opinion Ikea is one of the retailers that is leading the way in this new practice of combining the social community aspect with the product usage and that results in sales based on the consumer needs.  Ikea uses a combination of membership for communications and then cross over offers from their web site and then probably most important they use Pinterest as an integral tool on their website for product usage suggestions.

 

Retailers must embrace the social aspect and deliver new capabilities to meet the consumer demand in order to survive. This requirement will only increase and with the demands of the consumer and the retailer must focus on value through shopping experience to retain their customers rather than lowest price.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The omni channel shopping community network and virtual mall concepts have a very high potential for delivering value to the retail partner network if the tools and the processes are put into place to analyze the results.  Without the tools and process though the retailer network will be flying blind and might just as well continue on its current path of focusing on the lowest price product offer and as a result never really achieve success in the omni channel marketplace.  Consumers must receive a value for their participation and up to now the key value delivered by retailers has been related to cost.  The virtual retail shopping community can provide the type of additional value for which the consumer has been searching. 

 

The retailer, and the partners, must understand first the consumer demands and then how the consumer perceived their demands to have been met in order to deliver to the consumer a value.  To this end then retailers must have the tools to quickly and effectively measure consumer response and in addition the consumer response must be maintained to provide a historical perspective and measure trends.  I am not referring to new tools to measure and maintain the history, these are current big data analysis tools that have been in the market for a while now.  The big data tools along with the capture of site utilization statistical information can provide the type of measurements that can quickly identify trends and changes to consumer activities. 

 

Retailers have depended on demand and forecast sales data for a long time now as a means to measure consumer response.  In addition to the sales they have incorporated consumer surveys after the  purchase and then have also incorporated focus groups to help them fill in and understand consumer reaction to product and market trends.  These were good means to measure the consumer reaction 20 years ago when the key channel was the brick and mortar store.  However, now we are reaching a place in the retailer marketplace where the influence and percentage of sales in the brick and mortar store has leveled and is shrinking.  Now we have the opportunity with eCommerce sales and social network tools to more precisely measure direct response from consumers based on their reactions and actions taken electronically.  This provides a more accurate measurement of the reaction that allows the retailer to refine and improve the consumer value in a more efficient manner.

 

Retailers must replace their legacy measurements with new measurements and tools to capture and measure trends.  These tools do require time to develop the historical data that will allow trend analysis so the retailer must act to implement these tools early so they can measure and improve the consumer value parasition.  Consumers will not wait for retailers to catch up and based on the current consumer trends in technology there is not much time for retailers to react before they are left by the consumer.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The omni channel value network requires a great deal of support to provide and support the community framework.  Due to the nature of technology in mobile and social networking and the acceptance of this technology by consumers the retailer must develop a community support network that includes suppliers, carriers, partner retailers and technology services.  These support services cannot be a part time occupation because the community requires the continuous support to provide the anytime, anywhere capabilities that are the base requirements of industry now.  The omni channel retailer now requires a great deal of effort to provide the seamless and robust support in the timeframes that consumers demand.  It is no longer acceptable for the retailer to interrupt features or functionality over night or worse over a multi-day period and lost features during cyber Monday could finish the business.

 

Just like it is important for a retailer to build the community of partners to provide the types of services, products and social networking to the consumer from the shopping home page, it is also important for the retailer to build and maintain the support capabilities across this same community.  The objective of this support community is to provide an easy to use and seamless interfaces on the shopping site to make it easy for consumers to stay on the site and shop with their friends in an open community.  The outward view of the site is a simple to use and feature rich site that encourages consumers to return and bring their friends to share.  The reality is that the more simple the outward appearance, the more complex the underlying technology to maintain the simple appearance.

 

This requires a large staff of technology people along with a staff of marketing and community managers across all of the network partners to maintain the appearance, features and functionality of the site.  As I have previously stated, the velocity of change in technology and consumer acceptance and demand for the technology continues to increase and this requires a focus and strong skill set of staff across the partners to meet the demands.  This will continue to challenge the entire community to support and enhance the shopping experience to meet and more importantly to anticipate the consumer demands. 

 

Large retailers have lost many of the younger generation consumers simply through complacency and this is now becoming a problem and limiting the success of these large retailers.  To be blunt the retailers must encourage the younger generation to shop and this requires a more robust, social and technology based virtual shopping that will encourage young consumers to return to the site to socialize with their friends.  Retailers cannot hope to attract younger customers with only low prices and sales markdowns they must now provide a social shopping experience that attracts younger consumers.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


In order to produce and maintain a productive and robust consumer value network the retailer must spend a great deal of time and effort in developing and maintaining the members that will support and grow the network.  As with other social and market initiatives there is a great deal of effort required to develop and maintain this network.  The value part of this social network is derived from the range and participation of the member, along with the management of these members that must be maintained by the retailer.  The value returned for all of this effort though is the continued success of the retailer and the network partners of contributing retailers and suppliers.  This is the next logical step to the growth and development of the omni channel market and the retailers that realize and embrace this strategy will achieve a great head start.

 

The network members are broken down into four categories;

  1. The major retailer / ‘owner’ of the network that provides the virtual social shopping home page for coordination and delivery of the shopping strategy.
  2. Partner and contributing retailers that provide supporting services and products to round out the virtual shopping capabilities of the shopping home page.
  3. Consumers that participate in the shopping and social networking started with the shopping home page.
  4. Suppliers of the retailers that provide the products and will benefit from the consumer feedback delivered as a benefit of this value network strategy.

The consumer members must be catered to by the other participants in order for these other members to derive the full value from this network and the virtual social shopping strategy. This is the greatest challenge of the value network; to maintain the consumer interest and encourage the consumer participate in the virtual shopping strategy.

 

Consumers are the foundational members fo the value network because without the consumer participation the virtual social shopping home page is useless.  The key to this strategy is the social participation of consumers.  The key to participation of consumers though is an interesting and consumer friendly home page.  The challenge for the retailer and other contributing members of the network is developing and maintaining the consumer interest in this virtual home page.  This requires a significant investment in time and effort from the members of the network in order to encourage consumers to engage in the concept.

 

Let’s face it, the consumer block that will deliver the benefits of this strategy are also the consuemrs that are the most fickle and demanding.  This group of millenials are the future of retail though and in order to maintain future success, the large retailers must develop and grow the value network relationship with these most difficult consumers.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

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