Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Tom Brouillette Thoughts at Large

859 posts
tbrouill

Social Commerce Data

Posted by tbrouill Jun 22, 2017

Effective social commerce measurement and especially service levels require the data to be rationalized and comparable across channels and then it also requires that you collect data from shopping patterns across channels to be rationalized for measurement.  First you must understand the process flow for each of the channels and then you can measure and compare results.  All of this rationalization requires a grounded definition of the business processes across channels and across shopping outlets in order to understand and define the basis for rationalization.  As social commerce brings together shopping and purchasing demands and practices across channels, retailers must also review and re-evaluate their processes supporting these methods in an exercise to review, measure and improve. 

 

This exercise is important now because of the turmoil in the retail marketplace that has been driven by the changing shopping and purchasing habits of consumers.  In addition pure-play eCommerce retailers are now expanding into the physical presence market along with the expansion of traditional legacy retailers into the eCommerce marketplace.  All of these changes are creating masses of new data that can be used for analysis and also, more importantly, for strategy validation.  The success of Amazon is driven in large part by their collection, use and understanding of data in their interactions with customers and other partners.  Traditional retailers with a large physical presence did not have the same level of data available for analysis and these retailers must now change their focus to collection and analysis of data to formulate and confirm strategies. 

 

Accuracy and volumes of data available for analysis provides an important piece of a strong retail marketplace foundation.  In order for the data to be useful though the processes across the social commerce marketplace for a retailer must conform to provide value in comparison.  From a consumer perspective a purchase is a purchase and large multi-channel retailers must evaluate and redefine their processes to conform and support the comparative analyses and service level management.  The additional twist in this endeavor is the addition of shopping data in the physical store.  This will require additional tools to collect shopper visit information and also tracing movements and flow through the store.  This is where the eCommerce shopping analysis can also provide value by providing tracking of virtual movement through the virtual shopping world.

 

No matter the changes in store for shopping and purchasing there is one constant and that is data for analysis.  Without a steady stream of data that can be used for validation and analysis retailers will continue to struggle and fail as they rely more on luck than facts.  Retailers cannot afford to hope for luck and a robust data collection and analysis strategy will help them ensure their success 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?

 

Due to the volume and types of data available in a social commerce marketplace combined with the volume of data available in the retail supply chain there is a very strong opportunity for data overload.  This is especially problematic due to the fact that it is very hard to determine what data is important in this tsunami of data that keeps washing over retailers.  Combine with this the additional labor required to monitor the social networks and this can quickly become a little overwhelming for anyone.  This is exactly the time when it is important to remember the old saying - ‘you eat the elephant one bite at a time’!.  While it is important to collect data that is available for future historical reference as your ability to consumer data grows, it is also important to begin analyzing the data that you understanding and then build on this understanding to expand data utilization.

 

It is too easy to get overloaded with the amount of data available and the search for a use for all of the data and that is why you must limit your focus to topics or subjects that can be addressed in an easier manner.  You do not need to understand or use everything all of the time.  This is an important concept and critical to getting through the array of information to something meaningful for you at the time.  It is important on what is meaningful and necessary at a point in time rather than attempting to consumer and use all data immediately.  Remember that this is an exploration of the meaning of this data to your marketplace and this exploration builds on data as you explore and discover new uses.  That is really the point of data mining; the exploration of data to obtain meaning and guidance in response to business questions. 

 

One important aspect though in your data exploration is the value and necessity of collecting as much data as possible, even if you do not have an immediate use for the data.  You will start with a finite amount of data that you are using for analysis and service level tracking and then as you explore and question your current metrics you will identify new and refined metrics which can then be added to the measurements with historical background.  In addition, you should also continuously and regularly review the data collected against additional data available to identify additional data that can help in your metrics and research. 

 

Let’s face it, you will start with a concept of collecting all data that you believe is conceivably useful and then through research, or more likely, new offerings and capabilities you realize that other additional data is required to perform new research or bring clarity to existing research.  This is the reason why you must continually question and review your data strategy.

 

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?

 

Positive consumer experience is important for social commerce and because of the blurred lines across channels the consumer experience and their travels through the social commerce marketplace are easy to trace and monitor. This may be a little new and uncertain for many of the larger multi-channel retailers because they are more focused on their main channel, which is the retail store.  Consumers though view the entire experience without differentiating between channels; they expect the experience to be maintained across all channels and expect to that end the consumer is able to put together this cohesive experience and same level of information across channels through third party tools.  The large multi-channel retailers need to tap into these third party tools to gain additional consumer experience feedback to incorporate the feedback and improve the experience across channels.

 

There are a lot of social tools consumers use to comment and and share experiences including ratings of experience including products and customer experience, such as Yelp or Retail-Me-Not on the mobile platform.  These tools allow immediate reactional response to both good experiences and bad experiences and in addition provide a much greater audience for these comments and thereby a much greater impact to negative reactions.  This is a very powerful tool and the multi-channel retailers must step up to continuously monitor these outlets for reactions so they can be addressed quickly.   

 

I have found recently that Google is stepping up these capabilities through the Google mobile app that incorporates location and surrounding information to provide recommendations and ratings based on where I am.  In addition the same app tracks my travels where-ever I go and then will request additional information regarding businesses along my travels.  This is not new and many apps do this same type of tracking and requesting reviews.  The difference of the Google app is that it incorporates the responses and photos of all reactions into the navigation and mapping apps to provide a rich level of information for consumers based on their current location and destination. 

 

This outlet must be monitored for immediate reaction and to address issues as they are reported and the good news is that store personnel can monitor and react in the same way that customers monitor and react.  This is always changing and must be closely monitored to ensure the positive consumer experience across channels.  This information can then be used combined with consumer surveys to improve the overall experience.  This is a bit of a ‘good news / bad news’ situation where the good news is that retailers have a fantastic amount of information available for analysis, and the bad news is these retailers have a fantastic amount of data that they must analyze.

 

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

Social Commerce Metrics

Posted by tbrouill Jun 17, 2017

I believe that a key contributor to the success of social commerce is not related to the interaction with customers or the ability to connect with customers through social networks or even the ability to shop from any channel in any channel, I believe a key contributor is the metrics from which you measure your success.  Social commerce is a new type of retail that does not differentiate between channel and your metrics must allow you to measure based on the customer purchase and stock position and the cost of the sale.  People focus on what is measured and in order to change your retail culture to a social commerce marketplace you must measure across the geographic marketplace and not by a channel.  This is how you drive the change and maintain the focus of senior leadership and most importantly change the culture to a social commerce marketplace focus.

 

Social commerce metrics require a great deal of information to measure and analyze, the more the better!  The good news is that the tools and methods and technologies supporting these tools and methods can generate a huge amount of data that can be used for metrics.  In fact, I think one of the greatest benefits of social commerce is the amount of data available for metrics.  In addition, one of the greatest challenges is the ability to collect the appropriate data, assimilate and analyze for guidance with the the speed necessary to guide adjustments and modifications.  A key challenge is the rate of change in consumer demands and retailers must develop tools and methods to collect, analyze and then implement changes at a much greater rate in order to meet the demands. 

 

Additional challenges for retailers is inventory management and purchase fulfillment across channels.  What I mean by this is that retailers should be processing purchases and tracking through inventory management in the same manner no matter the channel.  In addition to this and because of the blending of inventory across channels the sales must also blended across channels.  In order to encourage the store management to embrace these changes the store must be measured by the same service levels as all other fulfillment channels and most importantly the store must be given the sale credit for all channel sales within their region.

 

Customer service and satisfaction is very important to social commerce and multichannel retailers must focus on an experience that delivers consistent service and support across any consumer touch point and these must all be measured to ensure consistency.  Online retailers have changed the consumer expectation by incorporating consumer reviews in all of their consumer views and this carries over to now to social commerce and all consumer touch points.  Retailers will quickly achieve a benefit from these metrics and these benefits will then sustain and encourage the continued expansion of measurements.  This allows a greater benefit to the retailers as well as it allows them to better understand customers and their demands before making changes.

 

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?

 

This coming Christmas season will be a very strong indicator of the impact and direction of social commerce on the marketplace.  I look for this year to be a confirmation and expansion of the growth and strength of social commerce shopping and purchasing and continued leveling and decline of the retail store sales as a result.  We are seeing the signs across the marketplace now with major legacy department store retailers closing more stores along with other mall based retailers struggling as well. In the meantime we really are not seeing a decline in overall retail sales so while the purchasing remains, the consumers are purchasing in other ways.  In the short term this means that retailers need to expand and improve services in the eCommerce channel and then realign their focus in the stores to become a showroom and increase consumer shipments from the stores. 

 

Large home improvement retailers have always marketed themselves as a warehouse in a store and department stores need to embrace this concept to take advantage of their wide array of locations and products to ship more directly to the consumer from the store.  This would allow more efficient inventory utilization and would also allow additional service for the store shoppers by offering free delivery for retail store purchases over $50.  I think this is a great option for volume shopping periods like back to school, and Christmas, a reverse service offering delivery if you purchase in the store.  Retailers are currently offering the reverse; order online and pick up in the store and this would be a paired service where the customer could purchase in the store and have their purchases delivered so they don’t need to worry about carrying bags around with them.  This could be done tomorrow by retailers without a lot of effort and would improve the in store shopping experience; malls are offering valet parking, why not offer valet delivery of your purchases?

 

This could be offered without a lot of start-up effort however it does require process and service improvements in the stores.  The stores must improve their overall inventory accuracy and they must improve the delivery service levels across the board.  Last December we ordered a dress for one of our daughters online from one of the major department store chains because we could not find a dress in the store and the package was not delivered for 9 days.  This is ridiculous and a key reason why Amazon is a category killer in the retail marketplace!  Large retailers must provide two day delivery service for all orders when inventory is in stock and especially if delivered from a store.  Large department store chains have a distinct advantage in this area because their stores are within 2 day shipping service for most of the country.

 

These types of service offerings can change the relationships between retailer and customer.  This type of thinking is required to realign retailers in a manner that provides some support while they change the big things to support social commerce shopping and purchasing.

 

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 think it is safe to say that social commerce has been overwhelmingly accepted by consumers and in fact I think it is safe to say that consumers are actively collaborating and participating in building this social commerce framework and network.  Consumers are now actively engaged in changing this social commerce framework to support shopping and purchasing in ways that support their lifestyle and also provide a valuable social outlet to sharing and networking with friends and family.  This acceptance and embrace by consumers is now changing the underlying framework of all of retail and as a result impacting retailers and even the real estate market in ways that these same retailers did not envision.  Essentially consumers have utilized the social commerce capabilities they have accepted and embraced for years now to take over the retail marketplace and create a shopping environment that supports their changing lifestyles.

 

The requirement for retailers now is to understand and accept that the fundamental framework of retail is changing and then they must embrace this framework and redesign their processes and procedures to both utilize this new frame and more importantly to do this in a way that supports the discontinuous change driven by consumers now in this marketplace.  Retailers have implemented capabilities over the years to allow consumers to purchase across channels now though the social commerce concept adds shopping to the mix of channels and platforms thus changing the way retailers interact with the consumer.  Probably the most important concept for retailers to accept is that consumers have taken control of their shopping and purchasing to support their changing lifestyles.

 

The Internet and mobile technology and wireless networks have allowed the consumer to take this control and I see many retailers, especially the large legacy retailers, struggling to address these demands and capabilities.  Many retailers are hesitant to invest in the changes due to the volatility of the marketplace.  This is exactly the wrong strategy because the longer they wait the more difficult the change will become and on top of that, the lower the likelihood they will be able to afford the investment. 

 

We see this occurring now with Sears where the model was broken for a while and the way they chose to address the issue was to lower costs and close stores.  Retailers have a huge investment in real estate and inventory to support the chain of stores and when consumer shopping and purchasing methods change it doesn’t mean they stop buying.  Retailers need to make the shopping process easier and then provide delivery services, or pick up capabilities that meet the consumer demands.  This means the retailers must develop and implement this strategy across the entire supply chain.

 

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?

 

One of the greatest benefits to social commerce tools, practices and procedures is the added capabilities to engage and therefore retain customers.  With the downward spiral of traditional retail stores and malls the retention of customers has been one of the losses to the large legacy retailers.  For the longest time malls provided a vehicle to engage customers and retain their focus and purchasing practices to their brand.  Now though one of the results of the social network evolution is the death death of the mall for social interaction.  The mall in the suburbs then turns into a ghost town that is only inhabited by teens with no outlet or easy means to gather and the biggest problem with this demographic is the limited purchasing interest in anything other than fast food and entertainment. 

 

Real estate developers are forced to find new methods for these large malls to survive and many are turning into entertainment and restaurant centers to survive.  I have no idea where this will end because the experimentation with potential changes continues now in a shifting environment of demands and interest.  These results are also being shaped now by a resurgence in multi-purpose living arrangements in cities where large areas of old warehouse and factory tracts are turned into lofts and apartments for living with a shopping included in the development for entertainment and groceries.  These developments are expanding and shifting in purpose and interest while the large shopping malls and especially the anchor stores in these malls re-think and remake the mall through either redevelopment or abandoning for new purposes.

 

This is where social commerce comes into the picture with a means for consumers to group in social shopping networks with their friends and family.  One key outcome of these results is dramatically enhanced retention of consumers.  One of the key retention tools for eCommerce retailers such as Amazon is their reach across geographic areas and the depth of their product offering.  This is a compelling tool for customers and families that are spread across geographic areas because they can shop together electronically and then purchase and delivery to any address.  This single capability in my opinion is the single greatest reason for the increase in social shopping and purchasing.

 

The second greatest reason for the increase in social commerce shopping end the inherent retention of customers is the changing lifestyles of people and the dramatic reduction of time during normal business hours for shopping and purchasing.  Social commerce keeps calling people back because they can shop at any time from the comfort of their home and not worry about coordinating time for these purchases, this is  a very compelling reason to change shopping and purchasing 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?

 

Consumers gain a great deal of efficiencies resulting from the social commerce shopping and purchasing and as a result of these shopping and purchasing efficiencies they also gain a great deal of time back for their schedule to enhance their lifestyle and family requirements.  Retailers and suppliers can also gain a great deal of efficiencies from the social commerce shopping and purchasing practices as long as they focus on their methods, processes and procedures to standardize across channels and every interaction with the customer.  This, however, is also the greatest challenge for the retailer because it requires a change in culture along with an overhaul of their shopping and purchasing support practices.  These are deep seated and ingrained practices for the retailer and will require focus and stamina to change. 

 

Consumers have adapted to and embraced a continuous process to improve efficiencies across all of their lifestyle and interactions and I think this practice has become so common and ingrained in the daily interactions of consumers that they perform these analyses and improvements without a thought.  The consumer is constantly interacting with family, friends, other consumers, service providers and other retailers of all shapes and sizes and these interactions and even sequence and priority of these interactions is changing continuously to provide suggestions and demonstrations of improved efficiencies.  The consumers are then open to trying new methods based on recommendations or opportunity in their daily interactions.  This is a very robust and efficient method for continuous improvements and continuous efficiencies.

 

Retailers and especially large legacy retailers are must more rigid in their methods, processes and procedures as a result of years of focus on the command and control culture along with a focus on cost controls.  I say specifically cost controls and not efficiencies because the retailer has been focused on reducing costs in their channels rather than improving the efficiency of the product flow through their channels.  Inventory is a great example of this because retailers are mainly focused on procuring the lowest cost, highest quality for that cost, and distributing this product to the various channels for purchase by the consumers.  This supports the store and mall channels for retailers to generate sales through these channels although the inventory management is not very efficient and can generate a great deal of overstock inventory that require price reductions to move the product.  This produces inefficiencies in inventory management and replenishment in the retail stores along with impacts to profitability.

 

The challenge for retailers to improve methods, process and procedures improvements has been greatly highlighted as a result of the changing consumer shopping habits and the reduction in traffic in malls.  Retailers must catch up to consumer efficiency demands and methods in order to stop the slide. This is something that retailers must address internally through culture changes and improved processes that focus on shopping and purchasing and not the channel in which these activities are performed.

 

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?

 

All infrastructure equipment ages and the equipment utilized within the supply chain is not immune from this aging.  With the speed of change and the impact of the changed technology this can be a big deal in the supply chain as it relates to improved capabilities and improved stability in the supply chain.  The network and communication technologies supporting the network and wireless capabilities within the office and the warehouse is one small example of the infrastructure that can benefit greatly from improvements.  The speed and bandwidth improvements are dramatic from just a couple of years ago as it relates to the network technology and these may justify by themselves the upgrade in equipment.  On the other hand, the workstation technology has really not seen such dramatic improvements outside of the 64 bit technology upgrade. 

 

All equipment is purchased generally based on a three year cycle of replacement, however in my experience that three year cycle in many cases is extended until the point when the failure rate reaches an unacceptable level.  I do that myself with my major purchases such as a car where I keep the car for a minimum of 10 years, until the rate and cost of repairs reaches an unacceptable level.  In both examples you lose out on improvements in technology that reduce the overall cost of ownership and also increase the functionality and capabilities resulting from the new replacement equipment.  The interesting thing though is that each piece of equipment has its own specific reasons for failure and also for improvements resulting from replacement. 

 

Quite a while ago PC’s went through a period of dramatic and swift improvements and during that time it made some sense to replace the PC on a shorter time cycle and that is when the three year cycle was added as a baseline for IT equipment replacement.  Now the winds have shifted and PC’s are no longer providing dramatic improvements in usability in the same short period of time.  This has shifted now to network technology and equipment where performance and capabilities improvements are delivered on a quickening cycle. 

 

Another area of improvements in capabilities, performance and cost is in mobile technology that is resulting from the explosion in consumer mobile technology.  These changes are coming in the form of replacing mobile scanning devices with smaller smartphone and tablet technologies.  A great deal of this is the result of businesses recognizing the benefits of technology that is at once very familiar and accepted by the workforce along with the reality that the cost of this mobile technology is dramatically improved.  While the smartphone and tablet may not be the most rugged equipment in a warehouse setting, it can be ruggedized through cases and due to the cost of the equipment can be replaced at a fraction of the cost of the legacy scanning technology.  

 

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?

 

Resilience is required for all aspects of social commerce because of the dependence of the social commerce success on so many inter-related tools and participants.  Resilience is required in connectivity between all participants, in technology platforms and functionality and also in the relationships between all of the participants.  This presents a much more complicated challenge than has been taken up by retailers in the past to deal with consumer demands and the supply chain between all partners within the relationships.  Now however and especially because of the available technology and especially mobile technology available to consumers these resilience challenges are greater and even more important to the success of the retailers. 

 

I have previously said that social networks and mobile technology allows consumers to mold and create shopping and purchasing methods to meet and adjust to their lifestyle requirements.  This is an important piece driving the importance of resilience in the social commerce marketplace.  Then the importance of resilience in the social commerce marketplace has already reached a degree of criticality that can no longer be ignored by retailers and it requires them to take this on as a business continuity challenge to resolve.  As a result of the growth of eCommerce and omni-channel sales in the retail marketplace the resilience of their social commerce marketplace must be addressed as a business continuity requirement to protect to long term viability of their business. 

 

The Internet provides a level of resilience to support the communications links between the tools, however, any break from the Internet for any extended period of time would be disastrous to the retailer.  Connectivity resilience is also not as easy as simply installing a primary and secondary circuit, it requires separation lines into the retailer and even better, separation of technology.  The ‘last mile’ issue in networks now encompasses both the last mile line into the facility and the technology platform.  As an example, I have experienced an extended outage of fiber even though contracting with two service providers when a cut in the fiber network was experienced by the local provider. 

 

Next the resilience of social commerce tools and more importantly the social network platform services such as Facebook must be reviewed and addressed.  This gets very difficult because the retailer only controls their own interaction to the social commerce service.  The resilience in this example is the plan for the continuous interaction and maintenance of connections and updates to the platform.  In this case the resilience is the maintenance and timeliness of the communications with these social platforms and tools.  This must be accounted for and supported by the retailer to ensure they are timely in response to consumer interactions and more importantly maintain continuous expansion and utilization of new tools and capabilities.  In this case the resilience is related to maintaining currency in the social network platforms and tools that consumers are using.

 

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 social commerce marketplace must be actively managed, and supported by each of the professional participants in the relationships.  This can be very difficult due to the wide cross section of participants and their interest in managing and supporting the relationship.  The retailer owns and must actively manage their interrelated social commerce marketplace across all partners because the retail owner has the greatest the greatest benefits and as a result the greatest investment riding on the success of the marketplace.  The retail owner of their social commerce marketplace must spend the time and effort to continuously and actively manage the interactions and changes demanded by the marketplace participants.

 

The retail owner of the marketplace has the greatest interest in the success and as a result must focus the greatest effort and attention to the marketplace to ensure that it remains fresh and interesting to the participants.  The social network participants and interactions are only related and a part of the market because of the customer interest and this can change on the whim of customer interest.  As a result, the retailer must implement a robust organization that interacts with participants and monitors all social commerce marketplaces and social networking trends along with third party shopping and purchasing tools.  There are so many interactions and tools in this social commerce world that it requires a full time focus of savey support teams to monitor and react to the changes in the market and customer demands.

 

Retailers can acquire these skills by acquiring start-up eCommerce companies such as is being done by Wal Mart or they can acquire these skills through recruiting talent and building the organization internally.  Each of these methods have their own challenges and benefits, chief among the challenges is overcoming legacy culture that was developed over the years.  Acquisition of capabilities is easy by comparison to the challenge of changing the culture in a large organization.  Leadership must embrace and drive the culture change in addition to the changes to succeed in the social commerce marketplace.  You cannot simply acquire the capabilities and then expect to succeed, leadership must focus and nurture the changes to the culture that are required for social commerce practices and methods to take root and gain the ability to maintain the culture and the growth in the social commerce marketplace.

 

Social commerce and the social commerce marketplace are focused on the rate of change and the speed to deliver in order to be successful and the most important aspect is the long term focus and support of leadership to encourage the change in culture required to recognize and support the change.  Leadership must take a long term and very patient view that will require a great deal of investment to take root and organically grow and support the marketplace.  This cannot simply be purchased, it must be grown internally.

 

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?

 

Execution is important in all aspects of retail and it is especially important in the social commerce practices because of the interaction between social networks, eCommerce and physical stores.  Due to the nature of the interactions and the tools involved in these interactions execution takes on an especially critical requirement and key to success.  There is no other way to succeed without a focus on execution and maintenance of the communications and functionality that makes up the social commerce marketplace.  The social commerce marketplace is a very cohesive framework that connects many moving pieces and because of this it requires a great deal of focus to ensure identification and incorporation of changing customer demands.

 

Due to the number of interacting pieces that make up the social commerce framework along with the number of participants the social commerce marketplace a dedicated focus is required to monitor and support changes demanded by the participants.  This is a full time job for a team of people because of the intersecting activities and the volume of discontinuous change resulting from these interactions.  There is always a new service or a new network that materializes on the market at unplanned intervals that can suddenly change the direction and impose new requirements on the market.  Each of the interacting pieces that make up the social commerce framework are on different schedules and can be taking different directions based on their priorities and also the participants demands and then each of these changes must be analyzed for impact to the other interacting pieces in order to maintain a cohesive social commerce marketplace.

 

This is also especially difficult because the interacting pieces and the social commerce participants do not develop a cohesive inclusive plan to address participant demand.  Each participant reacts to the demand and changing market in a manner that is beneficial to their own plans and ability to integrate new demands.  This requires a flexible framework and infrastructure in order to support the changing demands and more importantly it requires a continuous focus on analysis and execution in order to react and incorporate the changing demands and changing capabilities of the marketplace. 

 

This is a big change for the large legacy retailers, and I believe this is a large factor in their struggles to maintain their place in the marketplace.  In the social commerce marketplace identification of demands and how to address those demands are important and even more important is the ability to execute to meet these changing demands.  There is an old saying that is even more true today in this social commerce marketplace; if you don’t do it right the first time, when will you have time to re-do it? 

 

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?

 

Social commerce provides a great channel for many consumers to take control of their shopping and purchasing to reshape to meet their changing lifestyles.  There are however, many, many consumers that do not have the opportunity to take part in these social commerce practices due to lack of available technology.  Retailers must be very careful to remember and provide an outlet for this consumer group because of the size and purchasing power of this group.  The retail marketplace is in the process of redefinition and it would be mistake to ignore the group of customers that do not have the technology to take advantage of the social commerce opportunities.  This group of customers is also searching for flexibility and choices to meet their lifestyle needs because they too must shop in odd hours just as consumers with the technology choose to shop in odd hours.

 

The lack of technology requires these consumers continue to shop and purchase through brick and mortar outlets and this requires that the consumer continue to adjust their shopping requirements to the store hours of operation.  This has not stopped the reduction in consumers to malls though and it seems that many of these consumers are shifting their shopping to strip malls or generic discount retailers such as Dollar General.  There has been a continuing strength in the discount retail marketplace that seems to support this hypothesis.  I do not believe though that this market segment will extend outside of the current market segments though.  There are other factors that promote this market segment and shopping practices including inability to deliver purchases and general desire to touch products. 

 

There are also groups of products, such as grocery for instance, that still lend themselves to consumer shopping in the stores.  Most grocery chains now offer online purchasing and even delivery to some locations as well.  My experience with this is there is a general uneasiness for consumers to trust someone else to pick their produce and the meat products.   Where this can success is with dry goods or even frozen goods but I think that the consumer shopping practices are changing as it relates to grocery shopping towards smaller and more frequent purchases.  This type of shopping is a convenience and opportunistic type of shopping where you may stop and the supermarket on your way home from work or simply purchase for a smaller number of meals. 

 

The point here is that there continues to be a market segment that prefers brick and mortar shopping for a number of reasons and retailers that target these market segments can be successful.  This market segment though is also beginning to stratify to product types and consumer income segments.  This stratification will allow for a transition of some retailers though to improve their social commerce services and should be used as such.  This cannot be a long term strategy though for the majority of retailers.

 

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

Social Commerce Channels

Posted by tbrouill May 24, 2017


Social commerce is supported by the multiple retail channels such as eCommerce and brick and mortar channels and then these are tied together with the social networking channels that support collaboration and networking along with the shopping apps that provide consumers with insight into both specific products along with location based shopping suggestions.  All of these channels come together under an umbrella of social commerce which supports both shopping and purchasing capabilities.  These channels are growing and expanding as a result of both new consumer demands in addition to lifestyle changes add consumer imagination to this mix of tools and objectives and the consumer can build the social capabilities that can support the new demands and interactions.

 

Consumers are using these social commerce channels to take control of their shopping and purchasing practices in a way that is disrupting the retail marketplace.  Retailers have been promoting the omni channel experience to purchase any time and any where.  Consumers have now taken control of their shopping and purchasing through social commerce channels and retailers have been shown that they are unprepared for these changes.  The fact is that retailers have invested in purchasing channels and methods that related to their existing purchasing methods and during this time millennials grew in the marketplace and implemented their own methods for shopping and purchasing that did not align with the retailer's strategy, and especially the large legacy retailers that anchor the shopping malls across america. Retailers across the country have been left with large investments in mall stores while consumers have changed directions to shop and purchase in methods and times that meet their changing lifestyles. 

 

Another, and probably more important, challenge for the multi channel retailer is their operational sales delivery process.  Quite frankly my ecommerce experiences with many of the large legacy retailers have been mediocre at best with long delivery time frames and poor availability.  Many of these retailers promote an endless aisle concept and then fail to deliver.  This is a very bad practice when there are so many choices available to consumers and add to this the social network aspect to warn other customers of bad experiences.  The outcome of this is mediocre sales in the eCommerce channel and customer flight to other options.

 

This is a bit of a heady experience, I know from my own experience, to realize that you are in control and if you want to shop in the middle of the night from a dozen different retailers you have that options.  Amazon has provided a great deal of incentives to support these new social commerce channels from their wildly successful Prime service to their array of product choices along with their array of market channels providing quite literally a mall in their site where you can shop for home cleaning materials, to cleaning materials to clothing, to electronics, to school books and on top of that a resale service allowing customers to register and resell their unneeded products.  With all of these choices and social commerce channels it’s no surprising that sales at malls have dropped dramatically.

 

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 retail marketplace is experiencing an upheaval related to changes in customer shopping and purchasing that I have been referring to as social commerce and this upheaval seems to have turned the retail marketplace on it’s head where online retailers are moving into brick and mortar and by the same token brick and mortar retailers are moving into eCommerce.  Along the way the changes in consumer acceptance of the new social commerce marketplace have reached a tipping point causing disruption in the brick and mortar shopping and purchasing that has not been experienced for a long time.  The common thread to these changes is a focus on customer service and demands to support the changing consumer lifestyle to allow consumers to both shop and purchase in any manner that suites their needs at the time. 

 

The key to the social marketplace is consumer relationships and support of their demands. This concept really puts the large legacy retailers at a disadvantage because for years they have focused on cost controls and market share and reduced or eliminated any focus on customer relationships.  These retailers focused on increasing sales and reducing costs and viewed sales associates as a cost rather than a value add service for the customer.  These actions have left the large retailers at a distinct disadvantage now because they essentially have no infrastructure.

 

At the same time, Amazon has been focused on the customer relationship and building trust along with value. They have had a distinct advantage during their formulation and growth because they focused on growth and marketshare.  This allowed them to experiment with markets and also with customer collaboration and customer focus to the point now where Amazon has become a market maker that provides an array of services and products based on the customer demands.  Amazon is a special entity though because of the way that they have expanded into areas that other retailers have not, such as streaming video, music and cloud services.  Amazon has done something that legacy retailers and electronic retailers have not been able to do.  Amazon has created a world where their customers can immerse themselves across services, entertainment and products in a manner that other retailers can only envy.  These capabilities and growth could only be achieved through imagination and a focus on customer needs, collaboration and long range goals. 

 

Now Amazon is extending their focus into the brick and mortar retail market with some new concepts in purchasing products in which they are extending their focus to expand customer relationships and collaboration.  Based on past experiences of Amazon, both successes and failures, this expansion by Amazon should strike fear in legacy retailers.  This expansion allows Amazon to experiment and expand in the social commerce marketplace to provide greater choice and options to the customers and based on the Amazon model to focus on customer relationships it will have a great opportunity to reshape the retail marketplace in ways that will impact other retailers dramatically.

 

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?