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2015


The reason for a retailer to develop a collaborative community as an integral part of the retailer’s online presence is to ensure the participation of the members which in turn will encourage the members to purchase.  This member return and participation is the key and the retailer must be careful to focus the community on the participation and the benefits to the consumer and not a focus on product sales.  To this end, the collaborative community, and the retailer, must encourage the participation in the community management of the members and make it easy for the members to participate. 


The retailer must understand that this member participation will involve a changing level of participation from the individual members.  This will make it almost impossible for the retailer to count on the continue participation of any one member and requires the retailer to view the participation as a whole from the community and not as any one continuous level of participation from one member.  The community participation should be encouraged and measured or acted upon based on the entire community and not any one member.  This allows the community to flourish without depending on any one member.  This is important because individual members will come and go with the individual participation increasing and decreasing depending on interest and available time.  This is why the retailer must view and measure the participation from the community as a whole. 


Of course the retailer should provide the ability to easily purchase however, the focus must remain on the participation and social interaction of the members.   The first and foremost action encouraged on this site must be encouraging reaction of the members to the postings and the community conversation.  The second priority must be encouraging the participation in directing the site activities.  Then the third priority should be providing the ability to purchase.  You don’t want to make it difficult to purchase but by the same token you don’t want to focus too intensely on the purchase.  Too great of a focus on the purchase will discourage the member return and participation.  Instead focus on the social aspect of the community and the purchase will follow.


It is important to remember that community cannot depend on the continuous participation of any one member however, the community can count on the participation of the members as a group.  I believe that Amazon has learned this lesson very well, the Prime service from Amazon encourages the return of people to the community and the service focuses on the ease of participation, benefits to the consumer and community involvement.  Amazon focuses first on member retention at the site and then second makes the any purchase easy, including providing the ability to purchase from another retailer that participates in the community.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


A successful program requires a strong governance program and a successful governance program requires a strong and flexible framework that defines guidelines and practices.  A collaboration community is no different.  The framework provides the foundational and structure to support the governance of the community and must be maintained and thoughtfully revised to meet changing requirements.  This framework supporting the collaboration community requires a strong process to ensure the changes to the industry are institutionalized as appropriate and when appropriate without overwhelming the community.


Successful governance of a collaboration community is a tight rope act in this age of the cloud.  The environment and tools are changing so quickly that it must be a key focus to stay abreast of the changes.  The changing technologies, tools and services are critical to the collaborative social network.  Your community members are a very fickle group you run the risk of losing the participation if you do not constantly upgrade and improve your capabilities.  The silver lining related to this requirement is that you can leverage the tools and services offered through the cloud to support the constant change and improvements.


The technology environment governance is important to the success of your community but the governance of the community participation is even more critical.  Your governance program must must protect the members of the community without overpowering and turning people off from participation.  The community must be protected from the trolls and the inappropriate behavior without overpowering and discouraging participation.  The participation type of governance should also encourage and include the participation of the community members.  This will promote the participation and the sense of community ownership of the members.  This type of governance is another tightrope act, you want to protect the community and you also want to promote open participation and creativity in participation.  This type of governance will require the greatest investment in focus and time from your social networking team and these efforts need to be a full time requirement to ensure the quality of the community. 


Community governance is a very important aspect to the success of the collaboration community from three aspects; technology, safety of the members and the reputation of the hosts (in this case the retailer).  The key investment for success is the time and focus of the team supporting the governance.  Cloud technology and services provide a great framework for the infrastructure required to support the community.  The investment in time will require an increase in resources internally and then a plan for encouraging the participation of the community.  These investments in time and the governance framework will help to grow your community and this in turn will generate repeat customers, which is the key to success in the future of consumer 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?


The development and encouragement of the collaboration community by retailers will require a flexible governance that encourages participation in a safe and secure environment.  We’ve found over and over that a governance strategy and participation by key stakeholders, including internal and external partners is critical to the success of the community.  It is critical to the development and success of a governance strategy to develop a practice of inclusion from all stakeholders.  A collaborative community requires the support of the external stakeholders and participants and one of the best ways to develop this support is to encourage the participation of all stakeholders, internal and external, in the governance of the community.


This participation starts with framework that supports video, image and text posting to support all of the types of networking that would be of interest to consumers and community participants.  This is frankly where the cloud technologies and services can play an important role in providing and supporting the community framework.  This is important to both the success of the community and also critical to the acceptance by the retailer senior leadership.  The key point of these capabilities being that they can be delivered quickly to the community and there is a very low cost of entry.  I think that the cost is the critical aspect to retailer leadership acceptance.  This lowered cost of entry, and even more important cost of failure, can be the linchpin to the acceptance of the retailer leadership.  Of course this is not the only cost to implementing the collaboration community, however you can argue that the community can be supported by the same people that are currently supporting the social media management.


This social community provides another aspect and outlet to the social media management and engagement that should not be underplayed.  The social media management framework and governance must take into account all of the social media outlets.  In addition to coordinating the social media outlets it is important for the retailer to manage the submission of content to ensure there is no offensive content.  In addition to the content the retailer must manage the discussions, by this I mean they must manage the trolls and also the unrelated blatant marketing attempts by participants.  This, I believe, is probably the most important factor in achieving support of the consumer and the success of the community.


All of these activities require the focus and time of a team to provide the oversight required to ensure this collaborative community is safe, secure and supports the message of the retailer.  In addition the collaborative community with the outlets for a variety number and types of postings provides the retailer with the opportunity to focus their message. 


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?


Why should retailers spend the time and effort to develop a collaboration community when there are already so many other community outlets for collaboration?  I think the answer to that question is to provide the retailer with an outlet to connect directly with the consumer and to provide the retailer a method to promote their products.  This can be achieved in different manners depending on the product and the customer, for instance home improvement retailers can provide how-to videos, or apparel retailers can provide fashion advice.  Both of these communities though must provide a framework that encourages the consumer to participate.  I think the community should also focus on the benefits to the consumer and not so much on sales. 


I say this because I believe the sales will come when the retailer provides a framework that demonstrates how to use the products.  The key objective of these communities is to give the consumer a reason to return to the site, if the consumer makes the community a regular habit the sales will come.  The point on which to focus in the return of the consumer to the site.  By all means the retailer should copy or incorporate links to the popular online communities there is no reason to create a new method there is only a need to encourage the consumer to return to the community.


This may seem to be at odds with the objective of retailers, which is to sell products to the consumer at a profit.  So why should the retailer want to develop a community that is focused on benefits to the consumer?  The reason is simple, the community provides a method to encourage the consumer to return and consumers returning to the retailer’s site will increase the sales.  In other words, the community provides a soft marketing opportunity for sales. 


This concept becomes even more enticing because cloud technologies and services provide a very low cost method to deliver the community.  This can be delivered in a very low cost manner utilizing the same internal resources that support the retailer’s other social media outlets.  In other words, the retailer can implement a community with practically zero dollar investment and only the investment of time from resources already supporting social networks.  This framework, with the support of consumers, can be an extremely low cost with high return value solution.  The objective of this network should be that consumers maintain the site with new content and discussions and require minimal support from the retailer.



And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


Consumers are searching for a community with whom to collaborate in both shopping and and usage suggestions.  You only need to look around at the success of sites like Pinterest to see this type of community activity in action.  The question then becomes why should a retailer develop such a community?  I think the answer to this question is to give consumers a reason to return to their sites and participate.  The more time a consumer spends on a site the higher the likelihood that they will purchase something. In addition, the more time a consumer spends on a site, the higher the likelihood that they will bring additional consumers to the site. 


Pinterest is a great example of this type of community where members share images and ideas that interest them and then link to additional members with the same interests and likes.  This social networking then grows exponentially providing members with usage and design suggestions and also the link to sites where interested members can purchase similar items.  Some retailers are taking advantage of these types of capabilities, take Ikea as an example. 


Ikea provides a great example of the types of services and activities that consumers embrace to develop a community.  Ikea also provides an example of the opportunity provided to utilize their web site to draw consumers into their brick and mortar stores. In fact, when I think about it a little more I realize that the Ikea brick and mortar store is a great physical realization of a the virtual eCommerce web site.  The Ikea store is largely made up of suggested uses of their products and then the ‘check out’ is performed through the warehouse at the end of your walk through the showroom. The physical community is also enhanced with the addition of the cafeteria lunch room and children’s playroom to encourage a family to spend the day at the store.


In addition to this physical community of the store, Ikea encourages a virtual community online and consumers then have embraced this concept in Pinterest for example to provide their followers with examples of their inventive uses of the Ikea products along with the instructions and even list of materials for others to build the suggestions for others.  These suggestions and easy to follow instructions provide another marketing and sales opportunity for Ikea’s website and brick and mortar store.  On top of all of these benefits, it costs Ikea nothing, except the stores and website that is already available. 


These types of community provide examples of what I believe to be the next wave of consumer shopping.  This also provides a real life example of how to create such communities.  The challenge for the retailer is to provide the community environment and physical and technical support to encourage these communities.  This requires the retailer to view this community environment as an enabler for future potential sales and also the retention of customers.  These enablers should be the objective of retailers to enable their future success and continued viability.  Consumers are taking control now and are no longer forced to shop at any retailer that does not meet their shopping 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?

tbrouill

Collaboration Community

Posted by tbrouill Jun 18, 2015


Consumers are drawn to community.  This is shown over and over again through the manner in which consumers are drawn to social networks that support and encourage engagement with others in a community environment or network. Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Youtube all provide a community environment for people to network with current friends and meet new friends through the network interaction.  These activities are going on all around retailers and most of them are so caught up in their own actions to catch sales that they lose out on the benefits and opportunities that can be achieved through a community.  Consumers have shown over and over again that they will flock to services that support a community and retailers just have to recognize and provide the environment that supports the consumer community.


Some retailers do recognize the social aspect of shopping and have been creating a community aspect, Amazon with the consumer reviews and response to shopper’s questions for instance.  This requires the retailer to want to change and to recognize this as a key issue or more importantly a key requirement to success.  However most retailers seem to be more interested in trolling for the sale at any cost without a thought about the ecosystem that will support and feed their success.  Any retailer only needs to look around at the success of various web sites and social networks to understand that the consumer is searching for community in their virtual interactions.  A great example of the success that can be achieved from a community environment is Angie’s List.  This site is just a virtual neighborhood of friends that suggest service providers to the members of the community.  The service providers win because of the word of mouth marketing and recommendations, the consumers win because they have a trusted community in which to turn for advice.


Retailers must be open and encouraging of consumer participation when developing the community and remember the old networking adage - you must make a deposit before you can make a withdrawal.  Developing a community can be very tricky because you want to encourage open participation from the members of the community and at the same time keep out the trolls that can destroy the community.  This is a difficult task because the retailer must walk a line between protecting the community and being overbearing and limiting the community development. The one thing that retailers cannot afford right now is to do nothing, they must step up and embrace the open collaborative capabilities of the cloud.  They must take the first steps to develop the community and be fully aware that where they start will be abandoned quickly.  This is a hard concept to embrace for many retailers, however the introduction of the cloud makes this concept reasonable and even enticing. 


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

Cloud and Collaboration

Posted by tbrouill Jun 16, 2015


The cloud and collaboration are two terms that can be rather nebulous and mean many things to many different people.  The cloud is hard to nail down because it is changing so much and so quickly which also in an interesting turn provides additional meaning to the term cloud; the technology and services change so quickly that it is difficult to provide a solid definition and list of characteristics.  Collaboration is another term that also means many things to many people and the terms and conditions and even opportunities for collaboration is continuously changing based on circumstances, partners and the needs of the partners.  So it is rather fitting that these two terms are coming together to support each other and the needs of partners across the spectrum.


There is a second interesting factor that is provided by cloud services and technology and that is the capabilities that the individual consumer can use to extend their own capabilities.  This is one of the first times in the modern era in which the individual consumer has the same technology capabilities as the largest retailers.  Consumers have embraced these technologies and capabilities and are turning the retail industry on its ear with shopping and demands and shopping services provided by third parties. 


Retailers can counter these forces by opening up and collaborating with the consumer to turn the retailer’s market into a physical and virtual community utilizing cloud technologies and services to collaborate with their customers.  This is critical for retailers to break the low cost spiral and improve customer retention.  I believe, because it fits with my own views and desires for shopping, consumers desire an opportunity to share with the retailer in a community environment and I also believe that consumers would shop with the retailer that offers this environment even if the price is not the best price.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think consumers will purchase at a retailer offering the community environment but at the highest price of produce. 


There is another opportunity for retailers and that is the private label that is comparable but also cannot be purchased from other retailers.  The key though is to offer the community shopping environment to consumers to draw them socially to the store / website.  Remember that to the consumer the channel is unimportant and they are simply looking for the social shopping activities.  The retailer that offers a community to shoppers is leaps and bounds ahead of the retailers that simply focus on price.  The community aspect of a retailer’s environment will make up the critical difference and provide a retention factor that will not be available to the price focus alone. 


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?


Cloud technologies and services provide a significant opportunity for retailers to collaborate across their entire supply chain, from the raw materials to the end consumers.  In most discussions of the supply chain the end consumer is not included as part of this collaborative network.  I think this is a significant lost opportunity for retailers and the cloud technologies and services provide the tools for retailers to extend this collaboration to include the end consumer.  There is a great deal of competition in the retail marketplace and consumers are showing a desire for increased flexibility in shopping practices that is exerting a great deal of change in both demand and methods of shopping.  Retailers can maintain currency in the changing demands and retain customers and sales by knocking down the wall with consumers through collaboration.


Consumers, from their perspective, would also welcome the opportunity to collaborate with retailers, I say that from my own perspective and I know that I am not alone.  The cloud has provided shopping services that consumers have embraced to help them in their shopping activities from two perspectives; the opportunity to purchase and the notification of sales and discounts.  The combination of these two types of services has leveled the playing field between consumer and retailer and consumers have been using these services to support and even change their shopping practices.  Another critical factor in the consumers embracing these services is the elimination of customer loyalty which translates into lost retention and reduced sales.  As an example of the changes and the demands of the market you can look at the advertising for Wayfairs.com  who provides free shipping on ‘the big stuff’. 


Retailers are competing with all types of competition that is cost effectively supported by cloud technologies and services.  Consumers are also using these technologies and services to develop new relationships through their purchases with new companies.  Consumers are not hesitant to embrace these services and these nimble new retailers are also using the cloud capabilities to efficiently and cost effectively offer new shopping opportunities to the consumers.  This competition will just increase due to the demand of the consumer market and the imagination of marketers and the low cost of entry for new services due to the cloud. 


One method to counteract this cycle and retain customers and sales is for retailers to collaborate with their customers.  Retailers must overcome their hesitation to developing a partnership with consumers and utilize these same cloud technologies and services to develop a collaborative relationship with consumers.  This will provide the method and the opportunity to retain their customer and sales and counteract the competition from outside services.  Consumers are using the cloud to develop relationships across the retail market and now retailers are starting to realize and open up to developing these types of relationships to retain their customers.  


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

tbrouill

Cloud Networking

Posted by tbrouill Jun 13, 2015


We started with Facebook and that expanded into Google+ and Pinterest and Vining and You Tube and and LinkedIn and an explosion of most likely hundreds of other social and professional networking platforms that are coming to life and dying on a basis that is quickening as technology capabilities grow.  The glue, or the one thing that ties these together now is the expansion of the cloud technologies.  Cloud technologies provide the platform and framework for social networks to come into life and expand on an almost effortless basis.  The cloud is turning storage and the network into givens, or assumptions, rather than hurdles to growth.  This is one of the most important benefits provided by cloud technologies and it is also one of the greatest impacts to the social networking and retail landscape.


Cloud technologies have expanded the capabilities of social networking by providing one framework that both networks and people can connect for communication.  The cloud is another major enhancement in technology that I see as at least as important as broadband internet access.  Think about ancient history, fi you’re old enough, when you used to dial in for Internet access at 56 kbm, I know that when I first obtained high speed cable Internet access my reaction was that it turned the computer and the Internet into a usable tool that would be more powerful than TV.  Then came high speed wireless access and now you are able to maintain high speed Internet access any where and any time. 


Cloud technologies, storage and services on top of high speed Internet access has allowed the social networks to expand into use in every corner of your personal and professional lives.  Consumers have embraces these technologies now to drive their demands for shopping capabilities.  These demands are based on the imagination of the customer and the interaction across the social networks that is made possible by cloud technologies, storage and services.  Consumers are using these tools and capabilities as a very powerful tool to drive their demands of the retailers and the shopping environment and general practices.  The cloud and social networks have allowed consumers to turn the tables on retailers and take control of the shopping environment. 

 

Retailers are just now coming to the realization of the consumer capabilities and potential impact to the retail shopping experience.  Unfortunately for the retailers, they seem to have spent the previous few years fighting these trends and trying to maintain a control over the shopping experience within their store and eCommerce sites.  These same retailers are now beginning to realize the power of the consumer and the impact of their demands on their success.  This is where the retailers should embrace the technologies, storage and services that are provided by the cloud.  Retailers can no longer depend on their own proprietary software or shopping environments to shape the consumer shopping demands, they must realize and embrace this change in control that is being demanded by consumers in order to maintain their success.


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 cloud technology and services revolve around providing a platform for collaboration and developing partnerships and the objective for consumer shopping matches these capabilities.  This is why consumers have embraced the technology to support their demands in social networking and also shopping practices.  Shopping is simply an extension of social networking for most consumers, of course everyone either knows or is the exception to this rule of the person that simply shops to acquire their needs and nothing else.  I think this exception however is a small percentage in the overall universe of consumer shopping.  Shopping as a social networking extension is really the key focus of consumers and must be taken into account by retailers in order to meet the demands of the consumers.


Consumers have taken to the concept of shopping as a social networking exercise and are developing partnerships and networks of services that enhance their shopping by providing guidance and notifications of special deals and sales.  I have been fascinated for quite some time with the range and focus of these services that range from Groupon providing notifications of specials to Retail Me Not which provides notifications of specials based on retailers that are near your current location.  These services all provide a means to rate your experience and also broadcast your evaluations of products and retail outlets and market channels. 


The next logical step for these services is to develop partnerships with retailers and provide their partners with the shopping data that these services have been collecting since their beginning.  These services do not need to provide information regarding individual consumers that are members of their services, however they can provide valuable trend information to retail partners.  The retailers can also then provide exclusive specials to their service partners to strengthen the relationship with consumers.  Retailers must be hungry for information and these services can provide a broad spectrum of shopping metrics to identify trends in both products and sales strategies.  These services can provide retailers with another viewpoint that is outside of the retailer’s culture and may identify trends the retailer would normally overlook.


This also provides a great opportunity to partner with the end consumer as well.  Most retailers and especially the large retailers have historically treated their customers as just that, a customer that simply purchases whatever product is offered on the shelves.  This is especially true in relation to commodity products such as detergent or paper products.  Because of the cloud and pure eCommerce retailers that can enter the market from anywhere in the world the view of the customer must change in order for the retailers to retain their customer share.  This is another area where the retailer can bring their customers closer and develop a partner relationship by including them in the decision process and actively seeking their contributions for suggestions on product, service and shopping habits.  Instead of reacting to consumer demands the retailer must seek out the consumer participation and partner with the consumer.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


Cloud technologies and services have brought retail and eCommerce to an interesting crossroad where the retailer must make a decision that truly is one of those life and death decisions for the long term success of the retailer.  The industry has reached this crossroads as the result of the spread and availability of technology and especially the technology and cost of the technology available to the consumer.  The wireless network and smartphone industry has been a key driving factor to bringing us to this crossroads through that cloud technology and services that are driven by that industry.  This cloud framework provides the technology at a cost that consumers have embraced to change their shopping methods and demands on the retail industry.


This cloud framework is truly a collaborative framework that supports the consumers’ collaboration across social networks and technology services and this framework then changed the shopping demands of the consumer to support their lifestyle.  Consumers have embraced this framework because it allows them to access information, images, music and social networks any time and from any device.  Consumers have already begun pushing the envelop of the shopping experience based on these mobile and cloud technologies to collaboration across their networks to enhance and improve their shopping experience. Consumers have jumped to the next platform or framework of commerce they have eliminated their view of market channels to flatten to one inclusive shopping experience where the mobile and cloud tools provided a framework for consumers to collaborate and shop based on their needs and desires at the time. 


Retailers, on the other hand, as an industry have yet to embrace and embed this mobile and cloud tools and services framework to integrate into this new collaborative framework.  Retailers for the most part are still at least a couple of ‘releases’ behind the demands of the consumer due to their limitations from internal technology limitations and also their failure to fully embrace the cloud and mobile technology framework.  I see this as a reluctance to walk away from internal technology investments that may not have been fully capitalized and more importantly a reluctance to embrace the collaborative nature of the cloud and mobile technologies.  I believe that many retailers have hesitated to embrace the collaborative cloud framework because they are stuck in the command and control culture that made up the business and retail environment for so long. 


It can be extremely difficult to break from a current culture and practice unless forced by outside influences.  These outside influences from cloud and mobile technology are currently forcing retailers to recognize and address the new collaborative cloud framework with a speed and force that is new to the retail industry.  This is where the difficulty comes into play, the rate and force of change has been increasing quickly over the last few years and this will only increase more in the future.  Retailers must embrace this cloud framework in order to survive and even flourish in this environment going forward.  The rate of change will cause success and more importantly failures with a speed that can be overwhelming, retailers must embrace the cloud framework in order to survive.


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?


Implementing a commerce cloud utilization strategy can be very difficult due to both the span of the partners that would, and should, be involved and the horizon of the strategy. The strategic horizon of the cloud technologies and services is a very short span due to the velocity of the change being driven by both the technology and acceptance of the technology.  In addition, the strategy is also being driven by the wide spread acceptance of the cloud and the manner in which consumers have embraced these technologies and services. The cloud has and will continue to change the consumer shopping methods in ways that will continue to change and evolve in new ways that can only be imagined today.


I see the wild card aspect to cloud and eCommerce strategy development and implementation to be the consumer.  The consumer has taken on a greater level of importance and a greater level of disruption to the retail market as a result of the improvements and capabilities of the smartphone market.  This impact is not slowing down, rather it is speeding up and this is encouraged and supported by the expansion of both the smartphone market and high speed Internet availability and wireless broadband access. This is an interesting study in the results and relationship of the impact that one market segment has on other market segments; the communication and wireless phone market segment in this case is actually driving the disruption to other retail market segments. 


This disruption is quickening due to the expansion of the wireless phone market segment and the acceptance of the consumer and the consumer’s hunger for new capabilities.  This disruption in turn is spilling over into other market segments due to consumer demands to utilize their new tools and capabilities for all their shopping.  So now in order to meet these new and changing consumer demands the retail market must embrace the same framework of cloud tools and capabilities.  This is really the only option for the retail market to be able to keep up with the demands.  Retailers must be able to change and meet the changing demands of the consumer in this increased demand velocity and the only option to succeed in meeting these demands is utilization of shared services and tools along with increase collaboration across both partners and consumers.


The consumer has finally turned the table on retailers and is demanding the ability to shop in a manner that meets their changing needs and desires.  This consumer adoption of the cloud technology and services has allowed the consumers to utilize new capabilities that were out of reach of both consumer and retailer only a few years ago.  This new reality makes it impossible for retailers to spend a great deal of time internally developing these new capabilities.  It also makes it possible for the smallest retailer to provide the same or even better shopping capabilities as the largest 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?


Cloud technology and services are in a state of radical and discontinuous change that really cannot be forecast or planned.  You can understand and plan for a general direction of the change, however you would have a difficult time making any firm or long term plans to incorporate specific changes.  This places a business and their extended network in a difficult position where there is no guarantee that a tool or service will be around for the long term and on the other hand the tool or service provides a great benefit to the network.  This challenge can be met by utilizing a continuous improvement strategy to identify and incorporate improvements in a quicker cycle. 


There has been a quickening of change over the last twenty years and the type and velocity of change as has also also increased, the change is in fact causing an increase rate of change.  I believe that one reason for this increase in type and velocity of change is the introduction of mobile technology and acceptance by consumers.  Business and business networks have no compelling reason to implement the changes and especially accept the velocity and short-lived nature of these changes without a compelling driving factor.  This compelling and driving factor is the introduction of the consumer and the consumer’s acceptance and embrace of mobile technology that thrives cloud services and technology.


The consumer has become the wild card factor in driving retail change and the consumer is becoming more demanding as they accept and embrace even more technology.  There is one retail market that is helping to drive these changes and that is the wireless phone market.  This market is driving new technology to the consumers as a means to maintain and grow their market share.  This has resulted in new and exciting technology that supports more and more areas of the consumer’s life and demands.  This new technology in turn is driving the consumer to demand new capabilities from the other retail market segments. I find this fascinating that one market segment is driving change into another market segment through offering technology and tools to the end consumer.


Retailers can no longer ignore these changes, these changes are providing consumers with new methods to shop in other segments of the market.  This requires all market segments to change based on the consumer demands.  A continuous improvement strategy is in fact the single strategy that can support the type and rate of change that is introduced by the cloud.  Retailers and their supporting networks, including the extended supply chain must continue to not only embrace the cloud technology and services, they must also demand new technology and services from the cloud.


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?


Cloud technology and services can deliver great benefits to small and large businesses, that is for sure.  The trick is how can your network and partners utilize the technology and services to realize these benefits.  The cloud should not be utilized simply because it is there, it should be utilized to bring real and measurable benefits to the network.  You must be careful that you are not blinded by the hype and potential promise of the cloud technology and services and define clear a clear strategy and plan for your network cloud utilization to achieve the objective values.  Cloud technologies and services are like any other new tools, no matter the hype, and you must treat the utilization like any other tool and analyze the benefits and return that will be provided.


Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a great deal of upside to utilizing cloud technologies and tools, I am just warning that you must evaluate these tools utilizing the a thoughtful evaluation process.  I do not think though that you should utilize the same process that you would with hardware purchases.  The reason for this is that the cloud technologies and services evaluation should weigh the cost with a lower priority and include the potential future utilization in the evaluation.  Your evaluation should be a narrow focus on a short term objective. However, your strategy should realize that your evaluation is more similar to a prototype or proof of concept than a final, one and done type, delivery.  This is probably the key benefit to utilizing cloud technologies and services, the justification is simplified and the utilization supports your continuous improvement methodology.


I see probably the single greatest benefit to utilizing cloud technologies and services to be the match up to support a continuous improvement program.  These technologies and services provide the best opportunity to experiment without a huge investment in infrastructure, it provides a pay-as-you-go model that allows you and your network to utilize new capabilities without locking into a huge investment in technology.  The key factor here is that you and your network are able to purchase the capability of a new technology without a long term commitment.  This is an important factor that mitigates the risk to investing early in technology that is continuously changing.


While cloud based individual services and technologies can never be guaranteed to survive for any length of time, the cloud framework and concepts are going to survive and extend into more and more areas of both businesses and consumers.  Cloud technologies and services are changing the manner in which both businesses and consumers deliver and utilize services and capabilities.  These capabilities and changes are in the initial stages of development and maturity.  This means that the level and types of changes will be fast and furious and due to the nature of the framework, this rate of change may not slow.


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 cloud can provide great benefits and it can also present great challenges to achieve these benefits.  I will begin my discussion with the benefits in order to provide the encouragement to overcome the challenges.  In my opinion the greatest benefit the cloud provides is the platform to support your collaborative efforts across your partner network.  I think that this platform provides the basis for your successful collaboration across a far flung and wide ranging network of partners in the most cost effective, robust and secured manner.  I see that the majority of key benefits are extensions of the collaboration across your partners, including your customers. 


Cloud technologies and capabilities are generally accepted by all players in the retail supply chain, including the end consumer.  This has in fact become a part of the vocabulary that crosses over from consumer to supplier in your extended network.  The technologies that have been driving the consumer shopping demands and capabilities can also easily support the communication and collaboration across retailers’ extended supply chain.  So to re-iterated, the key benefit of the cloud boils down to a communication platform that can be extended across the entire partner and customer network.  This is in itself a critical benefit to your entire network providing the communication protocol, network for communication through the Internet, storage through shared cloud storage and shared services to support the needs of your extended network. 


All of your retail solutions and capabilities can be derived from this communication platform from consumer sales and shopping support to forecasting and planning to supplier coordination and most importantly the data sharing and big data analysis capabilities.  An important aspect of these capabilities and benefits is that they are agnostic to the size of any partners in the network.  What I mean by this is that the smallest small retailer can utilize the cloud capabilities and achieve the same benefits as the largest retailer.  This is very good for the small retailer and very intimidating and humbling for the larger retailers.  In the past, the largest retailers maintained a distinct advantage to utilizing technology over their smaller competitors.  With the explosion of cloud technology and capabilities this advantage has been eliminated.


Now small and large retailers and supply chain partners can utilize the same level of technology capabilities and this selection is based on the need and the objective rather than limited by funding and internal infrastructure.  The social and mobile technology in combination with cloud technology have leveled the business playing field in ways that are just now being explored.  There will be dramatic changes coming that will be driven by the small players taking advantage of these technologies.


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?