Crowdsourcing the selection and marketing of retail goods is an additional area that can be provided by the consumer chain and especially the consumer community that supports the eCommerce purchasing channel.  Viewing the consumer community as a crowdsourcing outlet for product selection and marketing is the next logical value added opportunity provided by the consumer chain.  This provides the retailer the direct channel to request and analyze consumer suggestions in a near real time manner and without the filters of marketing surveys or satisfaction surveys.  The results from the community and the resulting activities in the eCommerce sales channel provide real and direct feedback to utilize to crowdsource the product selection and presentation decisions.


Crowdsourcing is generally thought of as a means to fund projects or new companies which is not what I am suggesting, in this concept I am defining crowdsourcing as a means to improve products and shopping methods.  This is basically a new method to obtain the consumer input as a replacement to consumer surveys and focus groups.  The consumer chain provides a means for the retailer to collaborate with the consumer openly and subconsciously through the consumer community and the eCommerce channel.  This allows the retailer to try out concepts that are both internally generated and also externally generated by the consumer.  This collaboration allows and encourages hybrid concepts in marketing shopping, sales and products that would not be possible through the previous methods.


This method of crowdsourcing brings dramatic benefits to the retailer through shorter development cycles and also shorter validation cycles.  This crowdsourcing process implements a continuous improvement process that will benefit the retailer with increased customer retention along with improved sales while reducing the cost of development through the consumer collaboration.  The retailer can encourage the consumer to participate via a couple of straightforward methods; special offers and simply asking for and then acting on their feedback.  Simply acting on the consumer feedback can be a very powerful encouragement for the consumer to participate and then return on a regular basis.  This is after all a key objective of the retailer - the more a consumer returns the greater the number of sales they will complete.


This type of crowdsourcing is very low cost process for the retailer, however the retailer must also be very careful to follow through on the execution and implementation of consumer suggestions.  Consumers are happy to collaborate and provide their suggestions.  On the other hand, consumers are also very sharp and unforgiving when they feel they have be played and the retailer ignores their suggestions.  The bottom line is that the retailer must commit to the long term collaboration with the consumer in order to reap the benefits of this type of crowdsourcing.


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?