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Tom Brouillette Thoughts at Large

682 posts


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?


I believe that consumers are demanding a social shopping experience that will allow them to interact with their friends and family in a social networking perspective to turn the eCommerce channel into a virtual shopping mall experience.  This virtual shopping mall will be made up of retailers and service providers that compliment each other and support a virtual social shopping experience and provide the consumer with a value network of retailers, services and social networking capabilities that produce the virtual shopping mall.  This is a new space for retailers however consumers have been developing their own value network through combinations of location based product search apps, social networking tools the consumer is comfortable with and the most important tool for the consumer is the mobile technology.

 

The challenge for retailers is breaking through real and imagined barriers to developing the consumer value network and produce the virtual shopping mall.  Consumers will always stretch the limits of technology and utilize technology in new ways that simplify their lives.  Now the large retailers must also incorporate these new technologies to develop a consumer value network that simplifies the consumers shopping and to provide the one-stop capabilities that consumers have been putting together on their own.  Consumers will return to the retailer's’ site that provides the search tools, the social networking tools and the chain of partners that simplify the consumer’s shopping and brings value to the consumer through simplified shopping and reductions in searches.  Consumers return to Amazon not only because of the variety of products, they return because of the value network that Amazon provides to simplify shopping and the purchase.

 

In order to produce the consumer value network I suggest that large retailers reproduce their brick and mortar strategy for mall development in a virtual shopping home page site.  The objective here is to create a consumer value network that provides a starting place for consumers to meet and share ideas and suggestions regarding products, ways to use products and style discussions.  The consumer interest is high in this type of activity and service which you can see from the types of interest and following that Pinterest boards that focus on Ikea product hacks.  These sites and the interest in these boards provides proof of the consumer interest and the potential for the consumer value network potential. 

 

Development and support of this concept will not be easy, there are many hurdles to overcome.  This must be viewed as a long term strategic objective to build the network and support the interests of the consumer.  Consumers have shown their interest in these value add services by their embrace of an array of social networking tools that they are using in many imaginative ways to support their interest.  The retailer must provide the site that harnesses these tools and interest to encourage consumers to participate.  This must be taken on though as a long term strategy and provided the support and time to develop and attract 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?


Consumers have been using social network technology and sites to develop and maintain a virtual community and with the growth of mobile technology these communities are exploding in reach and use.  It is only natural that consumers will expand this virtual community concept to the world of eCommerce to really create new meaning to the term omni channel retail.  The growth of mobile technology has dramatically changed the consumer conception of omni channel retail and the consumers are have been attempting to drag major retailers to support these new expectations and demands.  The concept I suggest to describe these new expectations and demands is omni channel shopping community.

 

As further proof of this redefinition of eCommerce into an omni channel shopping community you need look no further than Facebook.  Facebook has incorporated community sales channels into their model to allow members to offer products in a type of ‘garage sale’ model using photos to offer products to friends and family and even the general public in your area.  The addition of mobile technology in this model expands the capabilities to virtually shop at any time or place and coordinate your sales through messaging.  This feature is a natural extension of the social community fostered by Facebook and provides an easy to use interface and communication model to shop and finalize the sale.  This is a great example of the benefits of social networking and commerce converging across technologies, however it still only really focuses on the purchasing side of the transaction.  It offers products to an audience from Facebook and uses the social networking technology to promote to the audience. 

 

The next step in the virtual shopping community is to bring the social network as a layer on top of the purchasing transaction to provide the tools and opportunities to share and request advice from friends.  Social networking tools have come to the point now where they can provide real-time video interaction that streams as part of the shopping experience.  These real-time videos can also be saved and shared across the consumer network to gain reactions and suggestions for purchases.  Combine the video aspect with the shared instant chats and you stand the omni channel market on its head while providing new reasons for consumers to shop and purchase.  This truly blends the retail experience across channels while providing reasons and encouragement for consumers to return.  This will be a difficult transition however the return provided especially to the early adopters can be dramatic.

 

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 Social Shopping

Posted by tbrouill Jun 22, 2016

Consumers are utilizing social networking tools to change the way in which they shop and turning the retail marketplace into a true omni channel experience where shopping and purchasing can be performed on the consumer’s schedule.  The difference now is the social networking tools that consumers are incorporating into their practices.  This social aspect is changing and expanding the consumer’s interaction with the retailer in a manner that the retailer must support or they will lose the consumer purchase.  Retailers really must view commerce as two steps; shopping and purchasing in order to succeed in the future.  The consumer has already expanding their retail commerce interaction into the social networking tools realm to engage their friends in a virtual shopping method that utilizes the tools to allow consumer interaction during product selection.

 

On top of the requirement to support the social networking aspect of commerce and the omni channel retail market the retailer must also understand and support generational based social networking tools.  In other words, the social networking tools that work for one generation will not work for another generation.  For instance, Facebook messaging may work just fine for middle aged consumers and not work at all for millennials and younger consumers may use Periscope, or Snapchat for sharing images while older shoppers use messaging or Facetime.  Top this challenge off with the velocity of changing tools and tool utilization and your work in maintaining the social aspect of shopping can seem overwhelming. 

 

This changing landscape will not slow down though and cannot be overlooked or ignored by the retailer their full omni channel marketing, shopping and purchasing strategy.  Retailers must engage and must engage immediately in order to begin building the capabilities and also the consumer following for their omni channel strategy.  Building this strategy and these capabilities starts with building a staff that understands the social networking landscape and will use that understanding to experiment and grow the consumer shopping support.  This will require an investment and patience to nurture and develop the awareness and acceptance from the consumer.

 

This social shopping strategy will change the relationship between the retailer and the consumer and this will take some time and patience to build this new relationship.  The challenge for the retailer though is in building the social shopping environment that draws consumers by providing a place to share and network rather than simply a portal into the eCommerce purchasing site.  The large retailers have provided this environment in the brick and mortar arena through large shopping malls.  Now they must provide this arena through a social shopping home page that provides tools and capabilities beyond the email blasts to notify consumers of a sale.  This shopping home page will change the omni channel practices in the same way that eCommerce changed the retailer brick and mortar sales practices.

 

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 Shopping Support

Posted by tbrouill Jun 19, 2016


Social networking tools such as Instagram or Facebook or even Google Hangouts should be incorporated to support virtual shopping from the retailer’s collaborative shopping home page.  These types of tools support the ability of consumers to virtually shop with others through the use of messaging, group conversations and even group videos.  The interesting concept for this type of virtual shopping are the ability of the tools to create a virtual session for friends and family to participate in the session as a group.  This virtual shopping capability adds a new dimension to the services offered by the retailer that will encourage return of consumers and their friends to the site to gather for the social aspects of shopping. 

 

The social aspect of shopping has always been a powerful draw for consumers that was encouraged and expanded through the development of malls.  The mall started as a place to concentrate consumers for purchases and quickly turned into a social gathering destination.  Consumers changed the concept and the original premise of the mall as a place to concentrate stores in order to simplify and increase sales for all of the retailers involved when they used the mall as a social gathering place.  This took many forms, from family outings (especially during holidays to visit Santa for instance), a place for teens to gather and hang in the suburbs for convenience, or a place for exercise by ‘walking the mall’.

 

It seems to me that retailers have always focused on providing a means to simplify the purchase of products and consumers have changed these means to meet their own demands and imagination.  Consumers on the other hand, have changed the the retailer’s tools and means to purchase to support their social interaction with friends, other consumers and family.  Sometimes these changes dramatically change the original retailer offering in ways that could not be foreseen.  For instance, I don’t think that retailers developed malls to provide a place for consumers to congregate and walk in comfort to get exercise.  Consumers have also been changing the eCommerce purchasing methods with the same goals, to make the tools meet their own needs for social interaction and shopping. 

 

Retailers in this case though must actively participate in these changing demands of consumers in order to encourage the retention and continued participation and purchases from consumers.  The virtual shopping and purchasing world requires interaction and support from the retailer in order to ensure the retention and return of consumers.  In order for the retailer to retain consumer interest they must support the social interaction demands of the consumer.  The retailer cannot rely on consumers to build this interactive relationship like the retailer could rely on the brick and mortar mall to draw consumers to the store for sales.  This means that the retailer must develop and maintain these social capabilities themselves in order to retain the consumer’s continuous return to the site.

 

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 Product Support

Posted by tbrouill Jun 17, 2016


Retailers must develop a method to promote products and concepts without depending on a low price strategy and the collaborative shopping home page can provide this type of support through social networking tools and engaging with the consumer.  One of the keys to success in the collaborative shopping home page strategy is engaging the consumer and then, one of the keys to engaging the consumer is actively courting and encouraging their response and feedback on products.  This product engagement should surround the consumer attraction to the product and then just as importantly the consumer use of the product and suggestions for pairing with other products.  This is where the social network tools come to the forefront of the activities and provide the consumer with the means to provide feedback.

 

Consumer feedback changes with the shopping home page from responses to specific questions to a more indirect feedback model of reactions to products and also responses from other consumers.  I see the Pinterest model as particularly important in this strategy of obtaining consumer product feedback.  The Pinterest model provides a framework for consumers to share suggestions and reactions to products to an audience of consumers and then provides the ability to link and share boards based on interest.  This model will quickly extend the audience outside of what may have been the retailer's customer base and will also engage reaction and response to the boards to increase product interest and eventually sales.  A link to this tool can easily be added to the retailer’s shopping home page and the reaction measured based on boards created and recommended and also by sales.

 

I have seen this model work well in an organic manner for Ikea as a consumer based model.  Ikea provides a perfect product and business model for this type of strategy.  If you search Pinterest for Ikea you will find a great number of boards related to both products as they can be used in decorating and also ‘hacks’ that suggest new ways to both use and combine products into new pieces.  For instance I have seen boards that provide clear instructions and product numbers to use in building make-up stands using shelves and table legs that are sold separately to put together into a unique and very good looking new product. 

 

The point is to encourage the consumer participation and retention through the incorporation of social network tools.  This strategy increases the stickiness and retention of the site and will provide a great deal of indirect information that the retailer can then use to support the marketing, placement and development of new products.  This model of engaging the consumer in the support of products provides the framework for long term future success of the retailer.  The stumbling block as I see it though is the patience to support the strategy while the interest builds and the creativity to use tools in new manners to encourage and support engagement.  Get rid of the boring surveys that really don’t provide value and incorporate direct consumer interaction to gain feedback!

 

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 Consumer Support

Posted by tbrouill Jun 15, 2016


The current retail model involves retailers selecting and offering products to consumers based on previous sales patterns and new manufacturer offerings and this model has worked for a long time and this model is very comfortable for retailers.  There is a new model coming together and forming now that is being supported by the technology now available to consumers which allows the consumer much more flexibility and better supports the demands of consumers.  This new model blends social networks, location based knowledge, pre-established interests of the consumer and published retailer sales information to provide the consumers with more accurate special pricing, Then combine these capabilities with the power of mobile purchasing technologies and you have the ingredients of  a major consumer shift in shopping and purchasing patterns.

 

This new model is now added to the consumer learned purchasing practice to search for the lowest price to encourage and extend the lowest price purchasing practice and the killer part of this equation is that consumers are combining service purchasing apps to more efficiently purchase from the lowest price retailer.  This is then fed by retailers such as Wal Mart or even Amazon to extend and encourage the drive for lowest price.  This is fine for the staples, or commodities, however extending into fashion and apparel is what is causing issues for the large department store type retailers.  These large department store retailers must break out of the price spiral and partner with consumers to encourage them to change the focus from price to other factors such as style, name, fit and service. The point is that while price is an important factor, there are other factors that are just as important and the consumer must be re-educated to understand and embrace these other factors.

 

Now is the time to engage the consumer in a two way, mutually beneficial, conversation where the consumer provides insight and suggestions to the retailer and the retailer provides simplicity in shopping and the types of products and services the consumer desires.  The power and benefit of the collaborative shopping site extends across and between consumers and the retailer due to the electronic framework that supports the site.  The retailer can easily experiment and obtain instant feedback new products, revisions to existing products and marketing.  The consumer can also then easily experiment with new products and uses for products and obtain feedback from their friends in the virtual shopping environment.  Both retailer and consumer then can achieve on-going benefits through the storage and availability of direct historical information to determine potential new uses and opportunities. 

 

In order to achieve these benefits the retailer must first provide the shopping home page for that starting point.  This requires a great deal of support for and from consumers in order to achieve and maintain success.  There must always be a constant flow of fresh ideas and and interaction between consumers and retailer with all the types of interaction supported and encouraged. 

 

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 develop the collaborative shopping home page portal that will be the entrance to the retail mall, retailers must identify and engage other retailers in the same manner as brick and mortar mall developers.  The virtual mall must include retailers that compliment and provide ‘color’ to the shopping experience that will encourage consumers to explore and engage from the home page portal.  The virtual shopping mall concept should focus on different complementary retail partners in developing this concept though simply because of the medium and the need to generate consumer retention and encourage return to the mall.  The concept though of an anchor store and a group of complementary retailers that enhance the offerings of the retailer is the goal and will provide lift and increased value to all of the partners, including consumers.

 

I see this concept as the next logical step to developing an omni channel shopping network and I see the omni channel shopping network as the next logical to step to meeting the changing demands of the consumer.  These demands are being driven by millennials and younger consumers based on their acceptance of technology to alleviate their limited time to spend in shopping.  This collaborative shopping home page provides a means for retailers to meet these changing consumer demands and develop a relationship with consumers.  In fact, retailers must develop a partnership with consumers to succeed in the future! 

 

The key partnership in this strategy is with the consumer because this partnership will help to encourage the consumer to return and invite their friends to join them.  This is very different from the previous and most current relationships with consumers for large retailers where the retailer focused on providing the consumer only with a means to purchase.  What we are seeing now though is the consumer utilization of technology to incorporate social networking technology and capabilities in their interactions with the retailer’s purchasing site.  In other words, consumers are developing their own collaborative shopping networks that allow them to share and virtually shop with their friends.  In order to maintain success in the future, large retailers must embrace these consumer demands and encourage consumers to participate.

 

This will require that the large retailer engage with consumers in a manner that develops and encourages a two way conversation with the consumer.  The collaborative shopping home page provides the framework to support and encourage this relationship with the consumer.  This partnership in turn will encourage and give reason for consumers to return and also for these consumers to invite their friends to join them.  Consumers now are putting together their own networks and the retailer that supports this strategy will be head and shoulders above their competitors in continuing their success.  There is no way that large retailers can continue to compete on price alone, this is a losing raising to the bottom for retailers and they must embrace and extend these collaborative shopping practices in order to ensure success in th

 

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 Partner Support

Posted by tbrouill Jun 11, 2016


The collaborative shopping home page requires the participation and support from both internal and external partners.  The external partners are made up of social network, retailer, suppliers and consumers.  It is important to identify and support the demands and requirements of each of these partner groups to ensure a robust home page and continuing success of the relationships.  Without the support structure and focus the interest of and in the site will diminish until it disappears and the success of all of the retail and supplier partners is diminished.  This maintenance aspect requires a great deal of focus and effort to maintain in the manner that will support the demands. 

 

This is where the concept of mass customization fits into the support equation.  The collaborative shopping home page provides the platform and the framework to support the customization and the partners can provide the content for the customization.  This still requires a great deal of management, coordination and and monitoring to maintain a fresh viewpoint though.  This collaborative shopping home page simply provides the delivery vehicle and the content still requires your support and a great deal of partner collaboration and support to deliver a cohesive message that encourages the consumer to engage and return to the site.  While one of the long term goals of this home page concept is the interaction and engagement with the consumer it will still require a great deal of effort to coordinate and update content and format of the site to maintain a fresh portal into the virtual mall.

 

In order to maintain this fresh portal it requires a great deal of collaboration and support from your partner network.  The suppliers are one aspect of this network and they can provide content and product info that will encourage the consumer to engage or will bring the consumer to the site through product searches.  Then the next group of partners are the complementary retail and service providers who will also bring in consumers through searches.  The third group of partners in this relationship is the consumers and they will bring additional consumers to the site through word of mouth promotion and also sharing their contact lists as a result of home page registration. 

 

You will notice the tripod of partner groups that I describe as support partners.  I see this as an important aspect of the new omni channel shopping mall concept and a key factor in the future success of this concept.  The most important aspect of this concept is developing a partner and more importantly a social relationship with the consumer.  The large retailer has not focused on developing a two way relationship with the consumer in a long time and in order to be successful in the future this is a very important relationship to develop.  Retailers now are fighting a losing battle to the bottom now because they are focused on a low cost model, this is especially true in the eCommerce purchasing channel.  In order to break this cycle the retailer must develop a partnership with the consumer.  This will provide the difference that will encourage the consumer to return to shop and engage and this will result in purchases.

 

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 few years ago the concept of mass customization burst into popularity to change the product development and manufacturing processes.  The concept of mass customization revolved around a marketing and manufacturing technique that combines the flexibility and personalization of "custom-made" with the low unit costs associated with mass production.  This concept has lost its shine over the years to the point where you don’t really hear much about it.  I think that this mass customization concept fits into the omni channel shopping and purchasing concept through the rapid development of new capabilities and the consumer embrace of mobile technology.  The mass customization strategy is a great way to view the methods required for retailers to support consumer demands in shopping and purchasing in order succeed.

 

Mass customization first and foremost requires a platform that supports rapid and iterative modifications.  This is exactly the collaborative shopping site and consumer shopping home page concept that I have been discussing recently.  These concepts, there should be one that is tuned to mobile technology and one tuned to standard web technology, will provide the basis for the customization through the use of standard page formatting selection options allowing the consumer to focus on the topics and products that interest them the most.  This should be architected something like the Google Now offering where the consumer can select options for viewing and notification that interest them.  The home page should also provide links to suggested YouTube videos and Pinterest links that would be of interest.  My advice is do not get fancy, simply provide the framework for the site.

 

Next you will need a staff to moderate the site and ensure it is engaging and safe for your consumer members.  The staff currently supporting social networks such as Facebook and Twitter should be able to support the site moderation and maintenance with perhaps some minor additions to support the additional activities of updating the site with new material and links to new stories, partner sites and updated content.  This is no small feat and requires continuous monitoring and updates, especially over the weekends and evenings to promote interest and returns to the site.  The other side of moderation is maintaining the ‘friendliness’ of the site by removing any material and participants that are offensive.  These are really the areas where the customization will come into play through promoting products, promoting surveys and response to consumer questions and promoting related social network sites that are related. 

 

The collaborative shopping site provides a platform for customization that supports your partners and most importantly encourages consumers to participate in developing a community.  This community will provide the basis for continued sales and sales growth and a reason for other retailers to join the community in a partnership to extend the consumer shopping opportunities and sales. One of the reasons that shopping malls were so successful previously is that they provided a place for consumers to meet and gather in a social setting to purchase goods and services.  The collaborative shopping site provides a means to support the virtual social shopping capabilities any time and any place to support the consumer’s diminishing time availability.

 

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 Virtual Mall

Posted by tbrouill Jun 7, 2016


I see the next wave of eCommerce to bring together to electronic purchasing with collaborative social network capabilities in a platform site that bundles complimentary services and products into a virtual shopping mall.  Bundling services has performed very well for the leading and driving force in eCommerce, Amazon through not only products for the home apparel, electronics, streaming videos and music but also through leveraging the cloud services that allow them to provide a robust platform.  In order to survive, major retailers will need to embrace this concept of bundling with not only product offerings and services but also a consumer collaboration platform that encourages consumers to return to the site and engage with others in the site.  I refer to this as a virtual shopping mall that provides both a social outlet with the eCommerce purchasing outlet.

 

This virtual shopping mall will provide a reason for consumers to return over and over to engage with other consumers in a platform provided and supported by the retailer.  This is important for millennials because they are the generation that has really increased the utilization and the demands on the eCommerce and social networking services.  These demands are driving towards the creation of a true omni channel shopping and purchasing platform.  This true omni channel engagement will be a requirement for the success and long term viability of large scale retailers.  Small specialty retailers already engage the consumers and the really successful small specialty retailers create a community atmosphere in their stores that cross over to the eCommerce site.  They provide the blend of physical and virtual shopping experience that large retailers have a very difficult time creating.

 

Consumers are definitely demanding a multidimensional shopping experience that is displayed through their use of social networking tools such as Facebook, Pinterest, Yelp, YouTube and shopping support tools such as Groupon and Retail-me-not in combination with both physical and virtual shopping and purchases.  Large retailers have been focused on providing the consumer a means to purchase from multiple channels and they have not focused on truly blending the channels into a shopping capability.  Large retailers speak of supporting the consumer in purchasing any time and any place and now consumers have moved on and look for the ability to shop and congregate with friends and family in a shopping experience any time and any place. 

 

These are just the beginning of consumer demands and as the consumer’s sophistication and experimentation with technology grows there will be no opportunity for large retailers to continue down their current path and focus on purchasing.  Consumers have now reached a level of sophistication with technology and especially mobile technology where they are able to use the tools to develop their own collaboration and shopping capabilities.  The issue for retailers now is to embrace the demands of consumers to remain relevant and successful in the future.

 

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 see that the future of omni channel retail will require retailers to provide a means for consumers to collaborate and virtually shop in addition to the classical purchasing capabilities. The goal of the collaborative shopping network is to encourage the consumer to return to the site and stay on the site longer and even invite their friends and family to join the collaborative shopping network.  The objective is to provide a site where consumers can return and linger in their shopping and social interaction with other members.  In order to increase the likelihood and encourage consumers to return many of the leading eCommerce retailers are bundling additional services, features and offers to support the strategy of increasing the likelihood of consumers to return to the site.

 

Perhaps the best example is the type of bundling that is offered by Amazon which provides home products, apparel, technology, school books, a place for individual to sell their own products.  Then there is the most pervasive service offered by Amazon; Prime, which is used by Amazon to tie together additional services, including free shipping, video and music.  These services, and many more that are offered by Amazon, provide a compelling reason to return for a vast array of consumers and consumer types.  This strategy of offering all of the services that consumers may desire provides a compelling reason for consumers to return.  Prime alone in the shopping space when coupled with the one-click purchase provides a compelling vehicle for impulse purchases and I think this ability when coupled with the Amazon browser plug-ins provides a distinct advantage and leaves other retailers continuously chasing these services.

 

I’m not saying that every retailer must offer video or music, what I am saying though is that retailers must expand their horizons and bundle services to encourage consumers to return.  The consumer collaborative shopping site provides the retailer with a platform to expand and try new services, products and interaction with consumers.  This collaborative platform provide a method for the retailer to interact directly with consumers and then potentially partner with other service providers and even other retailers to expand consumer offerings.  The concept is to develop a virtual shopping mall with the retailer as an anchor with the site providing other services and collaborative opportunities for both consumers and partners.

 

Consumers and web based shopping search services are already providing a crude version of the shopping concept.  Major retailers are also utilizing Twitter and consumer programs to encourage consumers to register for notifications of specials.  The next wave will be the retailer that provides the portal to a bundled set of services along with an opportunity to share and collaborate with friends and other consumers.  This is exactly what Amazon has been offering to consumers and been very successful. 

 

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?


Consumer demands on retail and especially omni channel shopping are growing dramatically to support the changes to the consumer lifestyle.  These changes are also being driven by consumer free time, or more appropriately lack of free time, and the demands of younger generations such as millennials.  The younger generations and especially millennials are coming of age and purchasing power and they are driving changes in the retail environment driven by both technology, such as mobile and smartphone technologies, and social networking.  I see social networking technologies and demands from consumers as driving game changing capability demands from the consumer.

 

Consumers are taking control of their virtual environments now and they are demanding change from retailers to meet these demands.  Consumers are now demanding interaction and cohesive blends of the virtual and physical shopping environment and these demands are only going to grow as time passes.  With the combination of large eCommerce retailers such as Amazon and the virtual networking capabilities and practices of retailers and the limitations on consumer time for shopping the  consumer is demanding increased omni channel capabilities.  The comfort level of consumers with virtual networking and omni channel retail is changing the way consumers both shop and purchase.  Retailers must recognize and adjust their omni channel practices to meet these changing demands.

 

Years ago the increase in beginning days of Facebook popularity and the consumer embrace of the social networking practices retailers were forced to scramble to build new teams to incorporate Facebook into their marketing and sales programs.  This caused a great deal of additional labor to manually support this capability especially the level of labor expended to maintain the freshness and respond directly to consumer questions and responses.  This social window provided a means for new consumer interaction with the retailer and the retailers that attained success in their Facebook interaction invested a great deal in the maintenance and support of that portal with the consumer.

 

Now, while the number of social networking sites has dramatically expanded and the technology used by consumers to interact with these sites has also dramatically improved, I don’t really see that many retailers taking advantage of these new tools.  Consumers themselves are building their own collaborative communities by creating a quilt work of social networks and eCommerce location based search engines to build their own collaborative shopping networks.  There is a vast amount of valuable consumer information that is lost to the retailer though because the common retailer has not provided a portal and the integration of the tools to support this consumer collaborative shopping networks.  The retailers that develop and support the consumer collaborative shopping network will change the omni channel market to generate the greatest level of success in the future.  In fact this will shortly become a requirement for omni channel business similar to the Facebook revolution.  

 

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?


It is no longer enough for a retailer to provide a channel from which consumers can purchase products, the retailer must now provide an interactive channel that blends the social networking with the ability to purchase electronically or via the brick and mortar store.  This inclusive shopping, social and purchasing environment must utilize mobile technology to blend the virtual electronic shopping with the physical shopping and support the purchase from any channel.  These changes are being driven by the demands and expectations of millennials in reaction to the technology and social media capabilities that are being mashed together by these millennials to meet their lifestyle.

 

These changes are being driven by the millennials and must be supported by retailers in order to remain successful in the future.  This will be difficult for most retailers because of what I think of as the culture of retailers; innovation followers that invest generally in the second wave of technology.  Retailer have focused on the sales aspect and generally have baulked at consumer demands or changing consumer practices.  As an example I think of the consumer practice of window shopping where the consumer goes to a brick and mortar store to examine the product and then purchases online.  Retailers fought this practice from the beginning rather than embracing and providing consumers with a true multi channel environment for their shopping and purchasing practices. 

 

There are a few retailers that are leaders, such as Amazon, or Alibaba, that are driving retailers and the retail industry in general to meet the demands of the consumer through expanded offerings and ease of purchasing.  The purchasing capabilities of Amazon have changed the face of eCommerce and the types of products that are purchased electronically.  These competitors have only scratched the surface of consumer shopping opportunities across channels.  Retailers must take note of the consumer interest in the consumer add-on sites such as Retail-Me-Not for purchasing opportunities and social networking sites such as Pinterest and Instagram for shopping and networking capabilities that allow consumers to extend their shopping practices virtually.

 

Retailers must embrace the shopping concept and the tools that support this concept in order to take advantage of an early entry into the shopping space.  This means that the retailer must incorporate access and much closer interaction with social networking sites to encourage the consumer to stay on the site when they visit.  This requires the retailer to open their site to the interaction from external sites and also to incorporate some of the social networking capabilities such as encouraging sharing friends and contacts with the retailer to enhance the consumer experience.  This concept is new and will be growing in demand with consumers and the smart retailer will embrace early to allow them to mold both the consumer interaction and the omni channel integration in a manner that benefits both consumers and 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?

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