Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Tom Brouillette Thoughts at Large

667 posts


The next logical step for the retailer that has committed to embrace the omni channel revolution is to position their social collaborative shopping site as a consumer home page to encourage consumers to start all of their online activities from the retailer’s site.  This can easily be supported by providing a mix of interesting news and features that cover a mix of purposes and allows the consumer to pursue any interest.  The key benefit of this strategy is getting the consumer to start with the site and encourage them to alway return to the starting point.  This home page concept provides the draw to the consumer to return to start their day or to start their online activities. 

 

This home page concept adds the social side to the retailer’s site to increase consumer interest and incentive to return to the site.  This social home page encourages the consumer to return and also must encourage the consumer to share their contact list and invite their friends to participate.  The draw and encouragement of the return of the consumer is critical to the success of the site and the virtual shopping concept.  The retailer must continuously renew this site with new stories of interest and links to fashion and entertainment stories for instance.  Every retailer currently provides a landing page that provides purchasing specials however the consumer must seek out the retail sites or be drawn in through advertising .  The retailer social home page concept encourages consumers to start every online session from the retailers page and provides a means to draw the consumer in through both interesting links and also sharing with their friends.

 

This can be a very powerful draw for the consumer that will provide the retailer with a new marketing and data gathering option that will increase the sales across all channels.  The site can provide consumer product suggestions, fashion advice from entertainment sites, links to entertainment news and sprinkle in product advertising throughout the site.  This site should provide opportunities and the means for the consumer to share and collaborate with other consumers and members of the site.  I would envision something along the lines of FourSquare that would allow a means for consumers to provide product usage and evaluation recommendations to members.  This type of data can be invaluable to the retailer for product development, marketing and also quality and demand management.  This homepage can even generate income by providing advertising to complimentary services and merchants.

 

I see the homepage concept as the next wave of retailer interaction with the consumer as means to engage and retain consumers to increase sales.  I also see the homepage concept as the next wave of consumer interaction with the retails as means to support the consumer desire to engage in shopping as a social interaction.  Whatever the reason, this concept will change the retail omni channel practices and interactions between retailer and consumer.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


The combination of mobile and social technology in the hands of millennials is creating waves of change demands that are being embraced by the majority of consumers to revolutionize retail shopping and purchasing.  Mobile technology is have as large an impact on eCommerce as the impact to retail purchasing by the Internet in the 1990’s.  In fact, many of the concepts initially tried, and dropped, in the 1990’s are coming into reality through the use of mobile technology.  The difference now is the integration of social media and networks along with mobile technology allows the consumer to virtually shop with their network of friends and family utilizing social media and mobile technology to link to and include in the shopping activities.

 

The challenge to retailers now is supporting the shopping demands of the connected consumer.  The revolution is the demands and continuous use of new social tools by the consumer to support their shopping demands. It is important for the retailer to understand that it is no longer enough for them to support the consumer purchasing demands across channels, they must now support the consumer shopping demands across channels.  In this revolution shopping is not defined by supporting product comparisons and product reviews, shopping in this revolution is defined by engaging the consumer in a social network of friends and family in discussions and suggestions for products. 

 

This revolution in retail will replace the mall for the physical social activities and interactions with virtual activities and interactions that are supported any time and any place.  The successful retailer will incorporate a social home page for their site that provides news and shopping and usage suggestions for the consumer to return and browse at their leisure.  Remember, it is important to retain the consumer on the site in order to increase the likelihood of a purchase and the best way to ensure the consumer returns and stays on the site is to focus on social interaction and community.  A significant influence on consumer purchases is the response and suggestions of their friends and family and the best way to ensure that a consumer returns and remains on the retailer’s site is to provide the social community to interact with their friends and family.

 

Consumers have developed their own virtual social community to interact with friends and family in a manner and time that best suits their needs.  With the rise of the smartphone and mobile social network technology the consumer is using these tools in a manner that blends the virtual with the physical.  Consumers are now starting to utilize these tools to support their shopping needs in the same manner with enhanced consumer tools that provide pricing and sales information and tools that provide usage suggestions.  The first retailer to offer these virtual social networking tools in their site to provide a social community in which consumers can gather and shop will ensure their success for a long time to come.

 

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?

Tom Brouillette

Omni Channel Shopping

Posted by Tom Brouillette May 24, 2016


Mobile technology allows consumers to mash-up social networking with transactional eCommerce purchasing in a way that supports virtual shopping to dramatically change the retail omni channel practices.  I believe this is the single most important movement to come to the retail market since the Internet and eCommerce came alive in the 1990’s.  Similar to the explosion on the market of the Internet, the social networking capabilities that supports the consumer collaborative shopping practices will fundamentally change the way retailers interact with the consumer.  In addition, and also similar to the explosion of the Internet, retailers will struggle to understand and incorporate this consumer collaborative shopping practices and demands into their omni channel capabilities.

 

The consumer collaborative shopping allows the eCommerce channel to support the social interaction that shopping in a mall allows to create an omni channel shopping experience which includes the transactional purchase.  Up until now, eCommerce has provided a means to support simple product comparisons and transactional purchase transactions. This has been promoted through Facebook to support simple asynchronous communications with the consumer and to provide an electronic marketing outlet to consumers that have subscribed through the ‘Like’ function in Facebook. Since then though the consumer has expanded into many other services that provide sales notifications based on location and even product comparison across retail outlets.  These commercial services have enhanced and improved the consumer purchasing choices over both the eCommerce channel and the brick and mortar channel.

 

In the meantime consumers have embraces mobile technology to enhance both their purchasing and social networking capabilities in a way that is not currently supported by most retailers.  You see these changes from the eCommerce and product comparison side from the product evaluations that most retailers have begun to provide.  In addition, you see these changes from the consumer use of social networking tools and platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram to share product usage and interesting new ways to use the products.  Then combine with these social networking platforms other social networking tools such as Facetime and video messaging, especially real time such as is available from YouTube and you see the beginnings of a revolution in retail. 

 

This revolution will be the mash-up of all of these tools and the continuous trial and error with other new and existing tools to enhance the retail market and create the omni channel shopping experience.  Millennials started this push as a result of their comfort with the virtual world and technology and then each following generation has and will continue to push the envelop of blending the virtual with the physical.  Retailers must embrace these new demands and provide the capabilities in their omni channel arsenal in order to survive and succeed in the future.  This will require investment in labor more importantly than hardware to meet these demands though and this is also different than the earlier introduction of the Internet to the retail market.

 

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 consumer collaborative shopping site will be a game changing concept in the omni channel retail purchasing program.  This will however shortly become a standard cost of doing business in the retail marketplace.  The retail market is changing as a result of the demands and, most importantly, the time constraints of consumers.  These changes are poised to refresh the market and dramatically change the retail practices by implementing a true omni channel shopping experience.  In a very short period of time it will no longer be enough to simply support purchasing across the retail channels.  The channels will need to provide a cohesive shopping and purchasing capability that allows the consumers to shop and complete the purchase anytime and anywhere.

 

Millennial, and newer, consumers are driving change and bringing pressure to the retail market to support their demands and this pressure will only grow as they become a greater segment of the consumer base.  Retailers have been focused on adding eCommerce to their purchasing channels as a result of the rise of the Internet and they have provided a robust method to complete purchases at the consumer’s convenience.  The resulting omni channel market supports the extension of purchasing across the channels which is the legacy retail channel marketplace.  This will be changing with the undercurrent of demands from the millennial and younger consumers especially and these demands will be a new requirement for retailers to maintain their business. There will be no choice for retailers because the demand for change will quickly pick up steam when the first retailer offers a consumer collaborative shopping site.

 

The first retailer to offer the consumer collaborative shopping site will require a huge investment; there is no question this is a long term strategic initiative and the investment in time and effort will be the greatest as the leader.  However this will be easily recovered with increased sales and consumer retention and growth when the capabilities acquire full participation from the consumer and becomes a true consumer social shopping landing site.  When the program takes root and achieves acceptance in the consumer space it be a game changer in the marketplace that will generate increased sales for the first to deliver.

 

This consumer collaborative shopping program will not be an option, the millennial and younger consumers coming into the market will demand these changes to meet their social and cultural retail shopping and purchasing demands.  The first to provide these capabilities stands to achieve huge market advantages and a dramatic head start to maintain their position and a leader for a long time.  This will ensure their place and long term success in the retail market.

 

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?


Reaching a critical mass of both consumers and content on the retailer consumer collaborative shopping site requires focus, patience and most important, stamina.  Consumers will not just participate at the site without some incentive and they will certainly not return and invite friends to participate without incentive or more importantly, a perceived value resulting from the site and participation at the site.  By the same token, the retailer must also receive some value from the site in the form of increased sales and consumer driven marketing and product development.  The combination of the demands from both the consumer side and the retail leadership side can become overwhelming without application of focus, patience and stamina to maintain the allure of the collaborative site.

 

Of the all the required traits to the success of the collaborative site I think the most important is stamina.  Building and growing the site into a successful tool for the retailer and social starting point for the consumer requires a long term focus on the the activities necessary to encourage and maintain consumer return and participation and this requires a great deal of stamina to maintain the focus.  The retailer must patiently maintain a continuous stream of content and enticements for the consumers to return to the site while the following is grown.  This requires a great deal of work, there were no social site that became an instant success from the moment they started, each one required a great deal of patience and work to develop the following until the member’s participation reached a critical mass.

 

The retailer's collaborative site is probably even more fragile and difficult to develop than other social websites because it is a new concept.  It will require even more patience, focus and stamina because in order to build the following and participation, developing a new concept in social collaboration requires the focus and stamina to work through the ups and downs that will be encountered.  This patience and stamina is especially important on the part of the retail leadership because it will require an investment stream for potentially a long time before the benefits and value stream become self generating. 

 

This collaborative shopping site is at odds with the standard business investment cycle that generally demands a return on investment within the first year.  This investment must be viewed from a longer time horizon to realize the return, it must be viewed as a new business channel that supports the sales.  This is important though to get started because of this long cycle time before the benefits.  This will become a game changing factor in the omni channel practices and it will also become a foundational cost of success. The first retailers to the party will have the greatest struggles and investment to building this site and they will also have the greatest return and influence on the practice. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


Retailers must embrace and support the demands of the millennial consumers in order to maintain their success in the future.  This is an important strategy for consumers to ensure the transition and participation across generations.  Millennials and later generations are changing the practices that incorporate technology interaction in their daily lives and the retailer must stay abreast of these changes in order to first draw and then retain the interest of future generations.  This means that retailers must develop a platform and site that supports the interests and demands of millennials such as the consumer collaboration site.  The retailer must provide a portal for interests and interaction that allows for purchases.

 

This is an important distinction; the portal that supports interests and cross interaction between consumers and the retailer that allows purchases.  The current platform supports purchases and the consumer is then required to cobble together sites and tools that support their interests and cross interaction.  Millennials and newer generations expect expect and require these capabilities in their interaction and by offering these capabilities the retailer will increase the likelihood of retaining these consumers.  In fact, I think that retailers offering these types of services will be sought out by consumers as the word is spread. 

 

Word of the availability of these types of capabilities will spread quickly as consumers share and invite their friends to participate.  The key to the success in spreading the word is encouraging consumers to load contact information of their friends in the site to enhance their experience and easily share comments, suggestions and even interactively engage others in their shopping experiences.  This is a common practice now when joining many, if not most, of the the social media web sites.  This is an important tool to both engage members and also to encourage members to invite their friends and family to join. 

 

The objective for collecting members to the consumer shopping and collaboration site is to gain a momentum of members to increase the participation.  Consumer participation is the key to success in building the shopping and collaboration site.  The majority of members of the site will participate infrequently and especially when the site is just starting.  This is why it is so important to gain a large number of members in order to increase the volume of participation.  When the site is settled with a member base that participates the amount of participation from all of the members will increase. 

 

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?


Millennials have embraced retail through their own vision and tools for shopping and purchasing.  The challenge for retail now is to understand and embrace these practices and tools to provide the omni channel environment that supports the millennial’s practices and demands.  This is a strategic paradigm shift in retail practices that will be forced on retailers as a result of the shifts in their customer base.  Millennials are the first wave of generations that embraced the technology capabilities available in imaginative ways that meet their own needs and desires.  This is not a temporary blip in the practices of the consumer, it is more an introduction to the types of change and velocity of change these generations will bring to the retail industry.

 

Millennials are one of the early generations that have embraced technology to support their lifestyle choices and methods for achieving their goals.  Their practices have spread through all aspects of their life and all interactions both professional and personal.  Their choices and demands have influenced the workplace and are certainly influencing their retail practices in the same manner.  These changing demands are increasing in velocity as well as these practices are accepted and embraced by others.  Newer generations will only increase the velocity of change in practices and there is no way for retailers to ignore these demands. 

 

I think it is past time for retailers to also embrace the technology and the demands of their customers in a manner that supports their demands and succeed in the future.  Millennials have started to force retailers to develop and provide a truly omni-channel retail shopping and purchasing capability.  What I mean by this is that millennials have already embraced apps that provide enhanced social networking capabilities that they are now using in their retail shopping practices.  Millennials are creating their own omni-channel retail environment and driving changes into the retail market whether the retailers accept them or not. 

 

In order to succeed in the future retailers must first recognize the intent of the demands of their customers and the consumer market in general and then they must incorporate the tools and practices into their capabilities and practices to create omni-channel capabilities that blend and cross the virtual and physical environments.  Retailers have been broadcasting the capability to purchase any time and any where and now they must combine the ability to shop any time and any where with the ability to purchase. 

 

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?


Millennials are exerting a great influence on the retail shopping and purchasing practices that must be embraced and even expanded to ensure success.  Everywhere you turn now it seems there are surveys and stories regarding millennial influence on the work place.  There really has not been the same focus, or at least the same evaluation and visibility, on the retail market.  This must be changed so that the retailer can better understand and meet the consumer demands.  Millennials are exerting a great deal of influence on the workplace and the living places and it its only natural for them to be exerting this same level of influence on the retail market.  This is where the future of shopping will be redefined to cross the virtual and physical environments to support new shopping and consumer collaboration demands.

 

Each generation becomes more comfortable and involved in technology and these same practices must be incorporated into shopping and purchasing practices that blend the virtual and physical realities.  This does not mean that virtual changing rooms will become popular, I see the virtual changing room, quite frankly, as a prime example of wasted technology, a type of virtual shiny object that may look cool but the consumer doesn’t embrace because it doesn’t replace the physical side of trying on clothes.  What does work for consumers though is Facetime and photos messaging when trying on clothes to obtain opinions from your friends and family. 

 

Everywhere you look in your daily life you see people with their smartphone firmly in hand and an integral part of their daily lives and activities.  They are continuously sharing information and in communication with friends and family.  Then you look at the average large department retail store and the smartphone is not so visible.  The retailer must make mobile technology an integral part of their marketing, product offering and placement strategy, they must create a true omni channel presence that blends the virtual with the physical to support the shopping demands of the consumer.  This means that the retailer must offer ubiquituous wifi access without a hurdle of continuously signing in and ‘accepting’ terms and conditions; by all means there should be an initial registration to the retail consumer collaboration site however it is not necessary every time the consumer returns.  Simplify the process, push notices based on location and allow the consumer to use their smartphone in every situation.

 

I think that retailers should not get embroiled in a race to new technology in the eCommerce and virtual shopping practices.  I think that retailers should focus on embracing and incorporating existing technology into their offerings to enhance and blend the virtual and physical shopping experience.  To paraphrase another famous phrase - Shopping is the last frontier!  Retailers must embrace the change and incorporate a continuous change strategy in order to maintain their success with the consumers.  Consumers are moving forward with their uses of technology and continuously experimenting and this should be the strategy of retailers before they get left behind and become irrelevant.

 

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?


There are many challenges for the retail social community to overcome in order to successfully meet community collaboration demands and deliver on potential benefits.  This model is much different that most existing eCommerce models because it divides the activities into shopping and purchasing.  The shopping aspect is the collaborative social activities that focus on the interaction between customers and also between the customer and the retailer. While the purchasing aspect of this model is essentially the current eCommerce, omni channel, platform. These are two sides of the retail coin and the large retailers are going to require the shopping aspect in order to maintain success and more importantly to retain and grow their customer base.

 

Consumers are already developing their own virtual shopping networks of friends and family through existing social tools. The smartphone has also increased the consumer’s abilities to network and share while shopping.  There are many software tools that collect and share retail sale and discount information that provide location based suggestions for shopping and savings while the consumers are out spurring spontaneous purchases along the way.  So far though, retailers have not incorporated any of these social tool capabilities into their eCommerce solution.  This misses a great opportunity to improve their relationships with the individual consumers and enhance their experience and retain their interest. 

 

It is a well known assumption that the more time a consumer spends in a store or on an eCommerce site, the higher the likelihood they will make a purchase.  The large department stores have taken advantage of this within their brick and mortar locations by providing refreshments and special events to draw the consumer into the store.  Malls and shopping centers also have followed this practice of events and coordinated events to draw in the consumer.  The challenge now for the retailer is the consumer has less time to spend on these events and on top of that, the consumer’s available free time is falling more and more outside of the peak shopping periods. 

 

This is where the retailer must create a virtual shopping center that supports a new method of asynchronous shopping.  This asynchronous shopping allows consumers to share with their friends shopping product suggestions and questions and supports response in a manner and time-frame that fits into their friends schedule.  Consumers can also shop in a synchronous manner using messaging and Facetime type applications along with voice communications.  I see these practices more and more while shopping in a department store and it is time for retailers to embrace these types of virtual shopping so they can retain customers and more importantly take advantage of consumers suggestions and questions around products.

 

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?


Currently, and for the most part, consumers are drawn to a retailer’s eCommerce site by pricing, or search for a specific product.  When I am purchasing, I use the Internet to research products or to find a better price.  These are learned behaviors for me because of past experience with eCommerce sites and retailers offerings in general.  There is a difference between men shopping and women shopping and millennials shopping and even teens shopping.  We’ve all seen and experienced the different behaviors when shopping in a mall you can find the best representation of the difference shopping behaviors, men hang around and wait for their families, teens hang around as a gathering center, women are moving from store to store actively discussing topics including their purchases and you don’t really see too many millenials.

 

Based on these behaviors you can see that eCommerce and omni-channel outlets have been developed to meet the needs of men’s purchasing habits; research products and best price options.  This leaves out key shopping groups and provides no reason for the consumer to return, other than price or convenience.  With the reduction in time available to shop during normal store hours omni-channel outlets and eCommerce are becoming more and more important to the success of retailers.  The challenge though for retailers is to provide the environment that allows all consumers to engage in the manner that suits them best.  There are consumers and product groups that are not encouraged and don’t require social interaction interaction; product such as a ladder for instance only requires size, price and delivery options, however, women’s fashion requires comparison and feedback from friends rather than price as key purchasing factors.

 

The large retail department stores, books, music, fashion (including home furnishings) must begin to provide social community features to encourage consumers to shop in the same manner that they shop in a mall.  There is no other single factor that will support the success of these retailers in the future as the consumer’s free time during the current available store hours is taken by spending time on family and school activities.  The ideal time-slot available to shop for personal items is shifting to off hours from a brick and mortar store perspective.  The same shift is occurring in the major motion picture segment, with the increase in large screen TV’s and the improvement in resolution and sound available in the home equipment the attendance in movie theaters is also dropping.

 

Let’s face it, I would rather spend my free time during the normal retail store business hours on activities that allow interaction with family and friends rather than going to a mall or a retail store.  It is obvious that I am not the only consumer with this desire and with the reduction in available free time during normal retail store hours this will have an impact on the sales.  This can be addressed though through the development of a robust retail social community to allow virtual shopping in a manner that encourages interaction with friends while shopping.

 

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?


More and more industry reports are covering the change in consumer purchasing habits due to a lack of time to spend going to the store or the mall.  These reductions in consumer free time, and more accurately an increase in time spent working and will family and school activities translates into a decrease in time available for purchasing, translates into the increase in eCommerce sales. This increase in eCommerce sales is also increasing as a result of mobile technology and high bandwidth wireless service.  These changes in time and technology allows the consumer to purchase any time and any where, however electronic, or virtual, consumer shopping has not progressed in the same capacity or capabilities. 

 

eCommerce can support consumer research and purchasing efficiently and effectively for any product type and this has driven the increase in eCommerce retail sales.  The missing piece now is the social aspect of shopping to replace the physical shopping with friends and family.  Many product types such as electronics, or commodity type products such as food or hardware are a natural fit into the current eCommerce capabilities.  Apparel and fashion though requires an additional level of support to encourage and support the return and retention of consumers, I call this the social community aspect of shopping.

 

The shopping social community provides virtual and near real time interaction between both consumers and the retailer.  These two aspects highlight the difference between purchasing and shopping.  Fashion and apparel require shopping in order to obtain the opinions and suggestions of friends and family prior to purchasing.  Currently consumers purchase additional pieces to compare sizes and colors when purchasing apparel online and then they can compare the size and colors.  The consumer’s social community will tend to decrease the amount of test purchases for color and style because it will supports the ability to obtain opinions and suggestions for style and color. 

 

The greatest benefit of the social community shopping is the retention of consumers on the retailer’s site and more importantly the return of consumers to the retail site.  This combination provides an extremely valuable potential and opportunity for the retailer to increase sales and become a standard starting point for consumer online shopping.  Think about the type of impact and increase in sales that can be generated if the retailer can provide the type of site that encourages consumers to return and participate with friends and family in the same manner that Facebook or Snapchat or YouTube encourage people to return?

 

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 important to separate shopping and purchasing activities in order to effectively support the consumer’s demands in a manner that ensures the consumer returns frequently.  Shopping is a social experience and consumers are searching for the abiliity to shop with their friends and relatives socially, whether physically in a retail store or mall, or virtually.  Consumers have less and less time for shopping and the time they do have aligns less and less with brick and mortar store hours.  This does not mean that consumers do not want to shop, it means that consumers are not available to shop in the time periods that retailers are providing in malls and stores.

 

Retailers have mistakenly focused only on the purchase aspect of shopping and have essentially ignored the social aspect of shopping altogether.  Shopping must be viewed as a consumer team sport where the consumer is searching for a way to socialize with friends and family to make shopping decisions.  I see the next wave of eCommerce to combine social networking with shopping in a manner that encourages consumers to gather virtually to shop and purchase.  This will provide a meeting place for consumers and also a notification method for consumers to reach out to their friends and family to provide opinions and suggestions for shopping. 

 

All of the pieces are already available that will support this new wave; instant messaging, Facetime type conversation apps, location based notifications, Pinterest for sharing interests and also for a type of event registration and then there is Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other social networks that provide the means to instantly engage with friends and family, even providing notification when friends and family are available.  The beauty of these tools is that they can easily be combined together into ‘instant’ social events at any time to support and instant shopping spree at any time of the day. 

 

Unfortunately retailers have not taken to these potential opportunities yet because they have been so focused on the purchasing aspect of the equation.  This leaves 80% of the consumer experience unsupported by the retailer leaving the consumer to explore and build these options on their own.  Make no mistake, consumers and especially young consumers are building these capabilities on their own through their own social networking combinations of tools.  This reticence and lack on the retailer’s part to develop these capabilities though reduces the consumer’s encouragement to return or stay on the retailer’s eCommerce site.  The retailer provide no reason for the consumer to remain and explore their sites because they provide no opportunity for the consumer to socialize on their sites.  This causes the consumer to jump from site to site, reducing the reasons for the consumer to purchase.

 

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?


Changes in consumer purchasing practices being driving by the discontinuous changes related to consumer social shopping demands will have a dramatic effect on the supply chain that supports these purchasing practices.  These changes start with increased flexibility and options in purchasing the products and includes a robust product development and demand planning capabilities.  The opportunities and possibilities for obtaining consumer input into these product development and purchasing opportunities will allow the retailer and their supply chain to focus their efforts in areas and products that focus on these consumer input.  The greatest challenge for the retailer will be understanding and supporting these demands in an efficient manner.

 

I see a key challenge to be the product development and product life cycle, both of these cycles will be compressed as the rate of change increases.  Retailers must increase collaboration with suppliers along with expansion of suppliers to allow for swift changes to the inventory supply, both increases and decreases, based on consumer purchasing demands.  The omni channel retail environment squeezes time from the supply chain and consumers demand swift change to meet these demands.  Mobile technology is changing the face of shopping and large retailers must embrace and support these changes in order to survive.  This means short experimental runs of products to confirm the design in addition it means a pipeline for quick turnaround delivery so the sale is not lost. 

 

Mobile technology allows the consumer to take more control of their purchasing and this means that the retailer must evolve and support these demands.  Mobile technology allows the consumer to instantly confirm best price options along with searches and purchases from other retailers when the item they like is not in stock.  Retailers have been fighting a losing battle against this practice when they should embrace and take advantage of the practice by providing additional purchase and delivery options.  The social shopping site concept provides the means for the retailer to connect with the shopping in a way that encourages consumer retention and participation.  This increases the likelihood that consumers will use the shopping site to explore a variety of purchase option along with a variety of product options.

 

Most retailers are currently focused on providing the means for the consumer to purchase any time and any place which is great.  This only focuses on the last third of the process though and requires the consumer to shop and make their purchase decision in another manner.  Providing a site for the consumer to shop closes the loop on the consumer attention cycle and increases the likelihood of completing the purchase form that same retailer.  The success of this strategy is dependent on a robust and flexible collaborative supply chain of partners that can meet the consumer demands.  

 

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?


Meeting the demands of consumer social shopping can be especially challenging due to the nature of the consumer’s discontinuous changes.  While the flexible and robust eCommerce and social network are givens from a starting point, these also must connect into a flexible and robust product supply chain from the manufacturer and raw materials to the final delivery to the consumer.  Without a flexible supply chain the consumer shopping channels will fall flat on their face due to a lack of follow-though and delivery on the consumer selections.  The supply chain cannot be taken lightly, the retailer must develop a product development, procurement and supply chain strategy that supports the consumer shopping and purchasing demands.

 

The supply chain must be just as flexible and robust as the consumer shopping and purchasing platform in order to meet the changing consumer demands.  The changes don’t stop with the shopping and purchasing, these changing demands flow through to the product development, procurement and supply chain.  These different shopping and purchasing patterns drive changes into the procurement and final delivery to the consumer as well.  These changes must be accounted for and supported by the supply chain strategy.  The omni channel shopping and purchasing platforms flow directly into an omni channel supply chain that must support all of the consumer purchasing and delivery demands.  It is no longer enough to offer a platform for consumers to shop and purchase at any time and from anyplace, the supply chain must be prepared to delivery from any place to any place.

 

This flexibility is also being driven into the product development and procurement process as well as the purchase and delivery process.  The changes to the shopping and purchasing methods and cycles translate into changes in product development through incorporating consumer feedback on products and product pairings.  These changes also translate into procurement demands to support both ramp up and ramp down of product sales.  Consumers will not wait for a three to six month product development and procurement cycle, the consumer wants the product and combination products when the mood hits and they will simply move on to the next product, or worse the next retailer, if the products they desire are not available.  This translates into a procurement practice that blends overseas manufacturing with local or near shore manufacturing.

 

The supply chain strategy (product development, procurement and delivery) must be included in the overarching consumer shopping and purchasing strategy in order to meet the demands of the consumer.  This requires a blending of the short term and long term strategic decisions to develop a flexible and robust omni channel supply chain to meet the changing demands of the consumer shopping and purchasing demands.

 

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 networking tools allow the consumer to collaborate with friends and family while shopping and this extends the capabilities and the use of these networks.  Retailers must embrace and extend their social networking practices in order to support the changing shopping demands of their customers.  This means that retailers must embrace and internalize the collaborative shopping network and the social networking tools that support the collaborative shopping in order to meet the changing demands of the consumers.  Consumers are continuously embracing and dropping the social tools to meet their demands and with the expansion of mobile technology the rate of change is increasing.

 

Retailers can no longer segregate the social networking tools and support into a marketing segment that focuses only on product marketing and consumer support.  The retailer must integrate these tools into their eCommerce strategy to provide the support that is demanded by consumers.  Mobile technology, capabilities and new apps are entering into the marketplace at a breathtaking pace now and there is not much space between the bleeding edge and the trailing edge anymore and this difference is compressing more with each week.  Consumers have already collapsed their social networking tools into a collaborative shopping practice and retailers that delay in their embrace of these capabilities and demands will be left in the dust with a huge crevasse of new capabilities and consumer demands from which they must recover.

 

The interesting concept driving these demands is fueled by new and improved mobile apps and the imagination of the consumer.  There is a great deal of these changes driven by the millennial demand and imagination in technology and collaboration capabilities that are driven into new mobile technology and features that are then embraced by the experiments and curiosity of consumers.  The millennial demands are pushed out to more apps and new apps created to support these demands and as a result these new apps and capabilities are then picked up by other consumers through the update process.  This quickening is allowing the consumer to embrace the changes in days and weeks rather than months because of the expansion of mobile technology.

 

Retailers have been historically hesitant in embracing new technology because of the razor thin profit margins.  We have reached a time now though where this hesitancy to embrace change can send the major retailers into a downward spiral that is extremely difficult to counter.  If you look at the struggle of retailers recently to maintain their position compared to Amazon you can see an example of these demands. 

 

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?

Filter Blog

By date:
By tag: