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2016
tbrouill

Retail Holiday Changes

Posted by tbrouill Dec 26, 2016


This holiday shopping season we are seeing the cracks in the walls of retailer control resulting from consumer demands and especially millennial demands and collaborative shopping practices.  Consumers have expanded, again, their use of technology and eCommerce and especially mobile eCommerce to support their shopping in this holiday season.   This holiday season has  seen an increase in retail sales, however the increase continues the trends from last year and is coming more from eCommerce purchases this year than brick and mortar outlets.  The most dramatic statistic though is the percentage of mobile sales at 53% as part of the eCommerce total sales. This indicates that my suggestions regarding the embrace of mobile technology and especially in purchases seems to be accurate.

 

All of these statistics when coupled with conversations of friends, family and acquaintances shows the quickening of the trends due to the acceptance and embrace of technology to simplify consumer purchasing and support their changing lifestyles.  This acceptance has been helped, I think, a great deal by the maturing of millennials and their growth in sales percentage.  Millennials are bringing their same embrace of technology and collaboration to their consumer practices and this is also now embraced by more of the consumer market to drive a major trend in retail sales.  In other words, as millennials expand into the workforce and expanded direct interaction with other generations they are also demonstrating the benefits of their use of technology to support consumer lifestyle and deliver the changes that will simplify and support their demands.

 

In my conversations more than half of the people I have spoken to performed more than half of their shopping either online or via television, such as QVC or Home Shopping Network.  The interesting thing in each of these conversations it the driving factors to changing shopping habits are;

  • Ease and convenience of finding items.  Over and over people explain that shopping online improves the ability to find the products and the simplicity of delivery directly to your home, or better yet shipped directly to the recipient when they are not local.
  • Ease of finding a low cost version of the product.  While I don’t think this is a very high priority in the purchase decision, I still hear over and over again - not only was it easier to find what I was looking for online but when I found what I was looking for it was a better price.  This is interesting because many people said that the purchased the product from the same retailer and there were extra discounts offered to purchase online.
  • Support of lifestyle demands.  This is the most interesting in my opinion because in conversation it comes across as a secondary comment but in level of importance this probably has the greatest personal impact.

Retailers must now take these changing consumer demands and practices into account in order to modify both their sales and shopping practices along with their relationship with consumers.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

 


Traditional retail made up of large national and department store retailers seems to be in a down cycle and potentially going through its death throes.  I know it's been said before by many people and I’m sure that this time as well we are going through major revisions now rather than the death of traditional retail.  I think it is more accurate to state that we now seeing many large national retailers going through major upheaval that will see failures along with major changes to the retailers that make it through these difficult times.  These changes are the direct result of millennial growth in the market and the ability to make changes in shopping practices and demand that retailers in turn change their practices to support the consumer demands.

 

We all realize that millennials simply provide the tipping point to shove the retailers over the edge.  The change in these times is the introduction and embrace of mobile technology that allows all consumers to shop and interact with both other consumers and retailers in new ways that bring great change and upheaval to the traditional retailers.  Retailers have been controlling the marketplace for a long time and they continue now to place controls on the market.  The difference now though is that consumers can simply bypass the controls completely with the traditional retailer, or simply purchase the same product from another retailer. 

 

Traditional retailers are at a great disadvantage because of the potential cost of supporting the changes demanded by consumers.  The national retailers have focused on the cost advantages of size and have driven these cost savings expectations for consumers which results in a drag on profits.  This drag on profits reduces the capital available for the types of major technology investments that are now required to meet consumer demands.  Large national retailers have a huge base of technology investments in each store that requires upgrades and revisions in order to meet the demands and these large retailers cannot afford such investments.  So instead these retailers nibble around the edges of investment and place controls on consumers that in the past have succeeded where now they are failing because of the capabilities available through mobile technologies and wireless networks.

 

You can see the results in many different facets of the retail marketplace, from the reduced traffic in malls, to the increase in eCommerce sales, to the entry now of Amazon on the brick and mortar market.  As I stated earlier this does not necessarily spell the end for traditional retailers however we certainly are in the midst of dramatic changes to the retail market and there will be a shake out period where some of these major retailers do not make it through without major changes to their model.

 

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 normally come from outside the mainstream of the normal practices and retail is no different.  Legacy retailers (retailers with a large brick and mortar presence) are under tremendous pressure to change from many directions or influences including the consumer and non-traditional, or new, retailers such as Amazon.  While consumers are placing a great deal of pressure on retailers, I think that non-traditional retailers such as Amazon are really the ones that are driving the greatest pressure for change on the legacy, or traditional, retailers.  This pressure is changing the retail market from a channel driven commerce to a social driven commerce and the pressure now between new retailers experimenting with social commerce and consumers mashing new methods of shopping and purchasing will shortly become overwhelming for the traditional retailers.

 

There can be tremendous pressure for change without a great deal of impact as long as there is no acquiescence to the pressure.  In other words there has been unrealized pressure for change in retail in the past that has taken a long time to realize because the pressure was never great enough to force the change.  The retail market has been under intense pressure for change over the last 20 years now from consumers to meet their changing lifestyle needs and this is just now beginning to have dramatic impact on the traditional retailers.  A major force in driving this change is non-traditional retailers such as Amazon.

 

Consumers have embraced eCommerce and the social commerce aspect to blend the electronic with the brick and mortar commerce channels to create a social commerce capability.  This is now driving a great deal of change into the retail market and placing dramatic pressure to change or die on traditional retailers.  This aspect of change will not diminish or lesson and now adding to this pressure is the addition of Amazon brick and mortar outlets.  These started with bookstores and are now expanding to convenience outlets.  The significance here is the payment interactions presented in these stores that allow the consumer to pay without the inconvenience of the checkout line. 

 

The potential impact on traditional retailers of these experiments can be immense from a financial aspect because of the investment in point of sale technology by the traditional retailers.  This is can be an immense cost to replace and upgrade and these experiments by Amazon could represent the beginning of the tipping point.  Consumers will embrace these changes quickly and this will produce an immense pressure on the traditional retailers to change.  It will not cause these traditional retailers to fail immediately however without change and the resulting capital investment from the retailers it can represent a slow and painful death.

 

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

Retail Social Commerce

Posted by tbrouill Dec 23, 2016


Using comparisons from the music industry as a guide and the impact of millennials on the retail industry I see the retail industry moving into a concept of social commerce driven by these demands of consumers and the technology capabilities.  The term social commerce really consolidates and describes the next direction of retail and relationships with consumers.  I see retail as the next industry to experience major disruptions and turmoil especially as it relates to the legacy major retailers.  Just as in the music industry, consumers are now taking control and driving direction of the retail industry through the combination of ecommerce, mobile and wireless network technologies and the drive, curiosity and imagination of millennials as they emerge as a major force in the retail market.

 

These disruptions are already beginning for the major retailers as they struggle with consumer demands to provide a more cohesive shopping experience across all channels.  Retailers have traditionally fought consumer desires to shop and purchase across channels and allow a purchase from any channel in any channel.  This is an important distinction that can have an immediate and positive impact on their consumer relationship.  An example of this is the retailer’s struggle against showrooming by consumers.  Their struggle never stopped consumers from this practice and generally caused ill feelings and lost sales. 

 

Retailers are now also struggling with the impact of universal low selling price sales.  Consumers have become accustomed to the ability to search for, and obtain, the lowest cost on any purchases and this has quite frankly negatively impacted the major retailers as they have engaged in these price wars to the point where the large retailers are now struggling to maintain profits as a result of their legacy cost structures.  Retailers must address these consumer practices through a cohesive shopping strategy that incorporates and plays to the benefits of the retail outlet rather than simply providing services that drive consumers to the store. 

 

In my shopping during this holiday period I have experienced a range of services from the store sales associates that depended on the associates desire to help and also their experience and knowledge of the retailer’s capabilities.  Generally across the board the store associates would suggest shopping online if a product could not be found in the store and then the follow-up after this suggestion diverged depending on the sales associate.  Many associates wanted to help in searching for the but they were all limited by the capabilities of the in store technology and specifically the point of sale systems. 

 

I think that retailers must invest heavily in the in store technology and the point of sale systems in order for the brick and mortar stores to survive in the future.  Consumers will not wait for retailers to catch up and retailers will hesitate due to the cost of the investment.  This means that retailers must develop new methods to address these consumer demands if they will survive in this connected future.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

 


It seems to me that we can, and should, look to other industries as a guide to the future of retail and the music industry may be a good guide for the changes impacting the retail market now.  The music industry was also once a an industry of a few large and powerful labels that controlled not only the delivery of content but also the content itself.  These large music labels once created markets for music, just as the large retailers created markets for products.  Then the Internet came into the music industry and provided both consumers and artists a method to deliver and acquire music in ways that changed the music industry and also the large music labels.  Today the music industry is much more open and collaborative and the large labels have lost their control of the market, of course they are still influential but many artists have succeeded without the help of the labels.

 

I see a similar set of impact in the retail industry as in the music industry where the Internet has impacted the major players with upstart retailers that are more nimble and able to engage consumers to purchase in non-traditional patterns.  In the case of the retail industry after an initial dramatic disruption with book retailers, the retail industry in general has recognized the importance of eCommerce in their industry and has taken measures to incorporation into their capabilities.  This has expanded over the years and spawned a new phrase to describe this new market - omni channel.  This describes the retailers ability to sell across the brick and mortar and electronic sales channels with the goal to allow consumers to purchase any time and any where.  The addition now of mobile and improved networking technologies has expanded the eCommerce channel dramatically and has provided the means for consumers to fundamentally change the way they shop and therefore purchase.

 

This is the new struggle for traditional retailers and you see the impact now in retail malls and sales numbers, consumers are shifting their shopping and purchasing practices and not spending the time in brick and mortar outlets as they used to.  This is the new struggle for retailers and many of these larger retailers are struggling to survive and the retailers that are not currently struggling in all likelihood will be hit with the impact at a later date.  Then increase in the number of millennials in the retail market has driven fundamental changes into that market and retailers would be wise to look to the music industry for guidance. 

 

The interesting thing now is the entry of Amazon into the brick and mortar channel and the impact this will have on the channel.  Amazon is one of the great leaders in retail market innovation and they have recognized a brick and mortar market opportunity that they can fill.  Amazon does not bring legacy retail practices to the brick and mortar market and you can bet that they will drive additional change into that channel to further disrupt 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 retail brick and mortar market may not be collapsing for all retailers, however it is going through such significant change driven by the demands of consumers that it will be become unrecognizable from its current incarnation.  This change is driven by consumer changes in shopping and purchasing made possible now by mobile technology and wireless network improvements along with the growth of millennials in the retail market.  The interesting part of these changes is that the change seems to be focused on the major retailers and the retail mall marketplace.  Major retailers are under duress as a result of their dominance of the market that has allowed them to become rigid in their practices and controlling in their relationship with consumers. 

 

Consumer lifestyle change is driving a large portion of this change experience and it seems that the spark is provided by the millennial increase in the market and along with this increase of millennials in the market  a contributing factor is their refusal to accept the commonly accepted retail practices.  The challenge for the large retailers is the demands from consumers to develop a relationship with the retailer and this is the key challenge to the major retailers that have maintained a focus on reducing costs to increase their margin and compensate for reductions in sales.  These changes have been a long time in the making and are now reaching a tipping point where the momentum and the changes are self supporting. 

 

Small, or boutique, retailers have not been impacted by these changes to the same degree because the strength and focus of these retailers has always been a focus on the consumer relationship.  This relationship provides the basis for the stability and the product mix in the boutique provides the reason for consumers to return.  On the other hand, the major retailers are dealing in commodity products, or products that can be found generally available in the marketplace.  These types of products allow consumers to shop for price and this practice changed the retailer’s focus to price rather than relationship.  This has become a learned focus by consumers and now with the growth of online sales and retail this practice has turned on the large brick and mortar retailers. 

 

The large brick and mortar retailers have created and encouraged the very focus that Internet retailers are using to destroy the large brick and mortar retailers.  These large retailers now must change or die and this is a struggle for them.  The retail brick and mortar marketplace is collapsing and retailers must adjust their strategy and their operations to meet the changing demands.  There is definitely a place for the brick and mortar retail outlet and retailers must now determine how it can fit into their future strategy and practices.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

 


It is important now as the retail market and the consumer is changing at an increasing rate that retailers implement sustainable practices in all of their activities to allow them to maintain a focus on consumer changing demands.  Consumers are searching for interaction and relationships that are easy to maintain and do not require a great deal of effort to maintain the relationship and also do not require a great deal of effort to gain value from the relationship.  I believe that consumers want a retail marketplace that allows them first to socialize with other consumers while shopping and then channels into an easy purchase process.  In other words, I think consumers view sustainable retail practices from the level of ease in maintaining the relationship with the retailer and probably more important how the retailer fits into the consumer’s social network.

 

From a definition perspective, sustainable practices can come in two categories; resource sustainability practices that consume reusable or reduced resources and and business sustainability practices that do not require a great deal of maintenance to support.  Consumers to date have generally focused more on the retailer’s prices and services than on whether the retailer recycles and uses reduced resources because consumers to date have focused on cost.  Its a great bonus that a retailer gives back to the community, or uses reduced resources and consumers will use those points as a secondary selection criteria.  This is not to say that the retailer should not focus on resource sustainability because this also supports the business sustainability, at this point though it should be done as a benefit to the retailer and the community in general.

 

Business sustainability practices are the areas that are impacting the retailer to consumer relationships not though and these are the practices that retailers must focus.  Retailers are in a tenuous position now though because consumers now have a means to exert their demands requiring retailers to react to the demands rather than consumers reacting to the retailer offerings.  The growth of millennial consumers and their comfort and capabilities in utilizing technology has basically turned the tables on control of the retail marketplace and consumer relationships.  Millennials are the tip of the spear in these changes and the consumer marketplace has embraced these capabilities which has further driven the changes into the retail marketplace.

 

It is more important now than ever for retailers to focus on sustainable business practices to cohesively and efficiently react and support new consumer demands. These demands and changes of consumers not only impact the retailers and they also impact the brick and mortar retail market.  You can see the results in the changes in malls and shopping centers where the large anchor stores are struggling because of reduced traffic.  These consumer demands drive changes in business practices that retailers must sustain and then expand and retailers cannot afford to sit still, they must engage and implement sustainable change to support the 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?


Retailers must adapt to consumer demands and shopping practices and changing markets in order to survive.  The rate of these changes in only increasing as the tools now available to consumers, along with leading forces in eCommerce such as Amazon drive these changes at an ever quickening rate.  The changes are adapted from current functionality and features based on trial and error along with consumer experimentation to create an adaptive and collaborative change environment.  Retailers, and especially the major retailers must adapt to these demands or risk losing customers and sales.  Its as simple as this; adapt or die.  In this retail environment of shorter consumer attention spans along with greater consumer demands retailers must increase their flexibility along with their collaboration with consumers to retain their place in the market.

 

Consumers have already taken control of their shopping and purchasing while major retailers have been chasing functionality.  The major retailers must focus on adaptive collaboration with consumers in order to maintain and even grow their place in the market.  Major retailers have the opportunity now to develop the capabilities that will support change and allow for flexibility in capabilities and offering to support and even drive consumer demands.  Retailers must drive the capabilities based on robust consumer collaboration and a practice of failing forward. 

 

The good news is that consumers, and especially the millennials that are really the tip of the spear in driving these changes, are very open to collaborating with retailers.  The challenge for retailers is really to open up and truly engage with the consumer as a partner rather than a customer.  Retailers must change their mindset of the consumer relationship in order to engage and retain and grow their customer base.  This is extremely difficult for the larger retailers because of the process and focus on cost containment and efficiencies.  Retailers are comfortable with directing and controlling the consumer relationship because it allows them to control and maintain their cost efficient business process and probably more importantly - its the way they have always interacted with consumers.

 

Millennials are entering the retail marketplace and the job market for that matter as well and have turned many of the base concepts on their ear to realign to meet their personal goals and lifestyles.  As their requests and demands gain visibility other consumers have embraced and expanded them into a force that has dramatically changed the retail market.  My opinion is that retailers are run by baby boomers and these changes are foreign to them and the baby boomers are struggling to maintain a control that they have lost forever.  Retailers now must embrace and adapt practices to increase flexibility and collaboration to maintain their share in the changing 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?

tbrouill

Retail Channel Challenge

Posted by tbrouill Dec 13, 2016


Traditional large retailers are challenged with their channel strategies and consumer interaction because they view the eCommerce channel as a separate outlet and treat the consumer experience as separate.  Retailers need to view channels as consumer communication methods that support each other because this is the way consumers view this experience and interactions.  I know that I hold retailers responsible for my experience whether it's through brick and mortar or eCommerce and retailers need to consolidate their consumer relationship strategy.  Retailers have historically be focused on their own strengths and have forced consumers down the path of the retailers strengths and this has negatively impacted consumer interaction and experience.

 

The changes now in consumer relationships are driven by the consumer not accepting the status quo and now developing their own methods of shopping via a combination of mobile and wireless network technology combined with third party shopping apps and social networking.  All of this put together means that retailers can no longer control or direct the consumer shopping activities interactions based on what is most advantageous for the retailer.  This is a dramatic change in consumer to retailer relationships that has caught the major retailers flat footed so they now must scramble to engage and retain consumers in their shopping and purchasing practices. 

 

The consumer is now in control of the retailer relationship and this is causing retailers to scramble to react and  regain control.  The interesting point is that retailers have focused on what they believe to be their strengths but the consumer is focused on supporting their lifestyle.  Major retailers are chasing fads that fit into their strengths while consumers are building capabilities that fit into their lifestyle.  These divergent activities are impacting the retailer's success and sustainability and yet they seem to be incapable of supporting the demands of consumers to interact and collaborate. 

 

Consumers have been clear in their direction and demands from retailers and it is the retailer’s responsibility to understand and react to the consumer demands.  It seems to me that the major retailers have been fighting these consumer demands in an attempt to salvage their control and these retailers need to understand that the consumer relationship has changed and retailers must change with this.  The impact to major retailers based on the change of consumer practices can be seen from the reductions in shoppers at traditional malls to the increases in online purchasing during the holiday season.  It is not too late but major retailers must change or more adaptive retailers like Amazon will remake the retail landscape and leave them behind.

 

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 desire and are searching for simplification of their shopping and purchasing experience and this crosses over all channels and all products.  An important aspect to this simplification in my opinion is the shopping experience.  Consumer demands are growing and changing a breakneck pace now and this is due in very large part to the growth of millennials in the retail market.  Consumer purchasing and shopping has been influenced a great deal by both millennial demands and expectations and the ability of electronic retailers to meet and influence these demands. Consumers are searching now for simplification in their retail experience starting with shopping and then the simplification of shopping quickly moves into simplification of purchasing and the delivery aspect.

 

Millennials began and really focused the demands and transition that started this process of simplification and as their numbers in the market grew, their demands took on new importance.  Another aspect of this simplification process is the influence of electronic retailers and especially Amazon who were able to quickly react to changes in consumer demands.  In fact not only have the electronic retailers been quick to react but they have also been driving changes into the process.  Electronic retailers have done a tremendous job in driving shopping and purchasing expectations and have focused on execution in a manner that the large retailers have ignored to a large extent. 

 

It is a natural tendency for anyone to focus on their strengths and try to ignore or play down their weaknesses.  Retailers are no different in this matter and this provides consumers with a clear choice in their focus on simplification.  In this respect I see the large department store and chain retailers at a disadvantage from the perspective of simplified shopping and purchasing because they have focused on the brick and mortar aspect of shopping and purchasing with the eCommerce side as a secondary outlet.  Consumers are now focused more on the eCommerce aspect of shopping and purchasing because of its simple nature that easily fits into their lifestyle.

 

The large department store is at a disadvantage because their eCommerce delivery capabilities do not meet the standards provided by Amazon and this is driving consumers to the eCommerce retailers.  I have been doing most of my holiday shopping over the Internet this year and one experience with a large retailer puts it all in perspective.  I placed an eCommerce order with a large department store chain and it took over a week to deliver an in stock item.  This experience only leads me to focus shop more at Amazon because of the dramatic differences in delivery and simplified 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?

tbrouill

Retail Store Advantage

Posted by tbrouill Dec 10, 2016


Brick and mortar retailers have a great advantage over eCommerce only retailers and they have not fully used this advantage because their focus has been on the purchase side of the equation rather than the consumer experience.  Retailers must blend all channels into a shopping experience that provides opportunities for consumers to shop and purchase from any channel.  Retailers focus on the ability to purchase from any channel and they must focus on the ability to shop from any channel.  I think retailers must change the brick and mortar focus from a purchase channel to a shopping and social experience channel which provides the consumer with a showroom for merchandise and allow consumers to execute the purchase through the most convenient channel.

 

The objective of this strategy is to produce a virtual endless aisle in the brick and mortar store itself.  There have been retailers that have provided this as a rudimentary type of service and now the retailer can take advantage of mobile and kiosk technology to expand and improve this experience.  Many consumers want to feel and touch the product when shopping or want to see the product combinations together before purchasing combinations and the brick and mortar store provides this opportunity.  In addition, the mall provides a venue for entertainment and socializing with friends and family that can round out the shopping experience in a way that cannot be accomplished through eCommerce outlets alone.  Retailers must recognize this and provide multiple and most importantly, simplified methods for consumers to execute the purchase. 

 

Retailers have introduced pieces of the solution and now must expand to deliver a robust purchase experience that meets the consumer’s needs. Some retailers provide an ‘order desk’ with a telephone that connects directly to their customer service call center to allow the consumer to place an order for products that may not be stocked in the store.  Many retailers now provide a kiosk where the consumer can scan the product barcode to obtain a price.  And many retailers provide internet access in stores for consumer mobile devices.  These are all great offerings but they must be blended together to engage with the consumer to enhance the shopping experience and simplify the shopping experience. 

 

Rather than providing simple kiosk to check price why not provide a consumer center kiosk that not only allows the consumer to check price but also allows the consumer to check store stock levels and then allows the consumer to place an eCommerce order at the kiosk to ship the product directly to their home or office or as a gift.  Retailers also need to provide a method to simplify the store purchase to encourage spur of the moment purchases.  Retailers can provide their store clerks with mobile devices that allow them to complete the consumer purchase on the floor rather.  This would allow the limited number clerks to spend more time helping and interacting with consumers to encourage a purchase speeding up the purchase and reducing the wait time and long lines especially in busy seasons. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


Consumer shopping methods and patterns have been changing dramatically over the last few years and I think they have now reached a point of critical mass where the pattern of change has become ingrained in the consumer interaction.  Tools, practices and generational embrace of virtual capabilities are bringing about a rebuilding of the retail marketplace and relationships between consumer and retailer. I think that social media along with the growth of millennials in the marketplace are driving the direction in consumer practices and especially the expansion of a virtual shopping marketplace that blends the brick and mortar with the eCommerce channels into a marketplace that truly supports shopping any time and any place.

 

The millennial generation and their comfort and embrace of technology along with their drive to mold their shopping, work and play activities in a manner that supports their lifestyles and priorities is changing their interaction with all aspects of their lives.  These millennial demands are changing all interaction across time and channels to support their lifestyles and their needs.  I can easily see the changes in the retail marketplace simply from the interaction and practices of my children as they have grown up.  There is now truly no barrier that has not been broken by the millennial demands and expectations through a combination of technology (mobile and wireless network), social network practices or the impatience with practices that do not support their needs. 

 

Impatience or possibly boredom is an important aspect of the changes demanded by millennials.  They have grown up with technology and have used their curiosity to change and grow social network interaction in ways that fit their lifestyles.  I have said previously that retailers would be well served by hiring high school age children as consultants to help to understand and engage new trends as they are being developed.  The method or practice of change starts with a boredom, or questioning the current practice, and this then develops into a new direction and practice through the mash-up of both new technologies and using existing technologies in a new way.  As an example, most millennials interact through much different social network methods and combinations among themselves and when they want to interact with ‘their elders’ they use Facebook.

 

Retailers must change to focus on flexibility and collaboration with consumers in order to survive.  One trait of millennials that retailers must embrace is the openness to collaboration.  Collaboration allows millennials to change and grow in their shopping and purchasing practices and methods and going forward retailers must recognize and embrace these same collaborative methods in order to survive.  This can be done if retailers embrace collaboration with the consumer and support the open and flexible shopping that is cross channel and geography.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


Consumer virtual shopping is reaching a critical mass and this has come about due to the pervasiveness of mobile technology (smartphone and tablet), third party apps supporting location based and enhanced search capabilities and changing consumer lifestyles.  In addition to each of these capabilities, the key is the consumer comfort and embrace of eCommerce purchasing and virtual shopping capabilities.  These capabilities allow consumers to experience a personal shopping experience in the virtual realm that they have been missing in the physical world of shopping in malls and department stores and consumers have embraced and even extended these virtual capabilities through word of mouth promotion and personal experimentation.

 

In my own experience and interaction I have evangelized the virtual shopping and eCommerce purchasing capabilities with friends and family and even just acquaintances in shopping.  What I find in my personal physical shopping experience is that I struggle in finding the product; whether the size, color, condition and even finding the product at all.  Then in the virtual shopping I run into just the opposite challenge; I find the product easily and then I spend more time in selecting different variations of the product.  I find this experience especially true with uncommon or unusual products that would normally require a great deal of searching in the physical shopping experience.  The second most common reaction is the convenience of virtual shopping and eCommerce and this too is expressed universally in my conversations.  In fact, more and more of my friends and family are completing their shopping online or performing a greater majority of their shopping online.

 

From the shopping perspective, again I have found that Amazon leads the way with television shopping via shopping networks such as QVC or HSN coming in second.  I don’t believe that my personal priorities are very much different than others and I find that I don’t have the time, or the desire for that matter, to go to the mall for shopping.  I find it much easier to perform shopping in bursts online at the time when I think of the perfect gift for someone.  I find this single capability to be the most compelling in my shopping; I can shop virtually at the time when the gift is top of mind and don’t need to make a trip to the mall!  I find this to be a common perspective when discussion eCommerce and especially Christmas shopping.    

 

Retailers must realize that they have lost control of the shopping experience and must account for virtual shopping practices.  I think this is beginning to happen as you see traditional mall retailers beginning to shrink their presence due to decreased sales.  However, I think that big box retailers are overlooking a great advantage over virtual shopping and that is the ability to touch and try  on the product. Retailers must shift their strategy and encourage consumers to shop in the mall and ship their purchases to their home.  This will allow retailers to take advantage of their physical presence although it requires a dramatic shift in costs and sales measurements.

 

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?

 


Retail has been continuously changing since the 1990’s, in reality though retail is always changing and growing, based on how retailers have perceived the consumer demands.  The challenges for retailers have been related to determining how to understand the demands and then how to deliver on those demands.  The major and large retailers seem to have difficulty in translating the consumer demands though and seem to have an issue in delivering on the demands.  I really attribute these difficulties to the major retailers control issues and also their belief that they must follow the procedures defined by others that are deemed to understand the retailer demands. 

 

The challenge for major retailers now is giving up control of consumers purchasing and embracing collaboration with consumers to support their shopping demands.  These changes in consumer interactions related to shopping and purchasing are now being driven in reaction to the growth and expansion of millennials.  These demands though are focused on collaboration and are demonstrated by the growth in mobile shopping and networking apps recently.  Retailers have been chasing the consumer demands and reacting by providing extended means of purchasing and ignoring the underlying consumer desires and demands.  It seems to me that the major retailers require a shock to the system in order to understand the new consumer demands. 

 

In order to survive and succeed going forward retailers must change from telling consumers what they should want and how they should purchase to collaborating with consumers to develop a virtual.  Millennials are changing the definition of consumer interaction and retailers are having difficulty in reacting to these new definitions.  Millennials having been expanding their reach and impact now in the retail marketplace for years and I believe that we are reaching a tipping point in their impact.  The market has reached the point now where all consumers have had the opportunity understand and embrace the changes that millennials have been developing through social networks and third party apps.

 

Consumers have taken the opportunity to embrace these new capabilities and have left the large retailers behind with these new practices to struggle to both understand and react to the impact.  We have entered into a new age of virtual department stores and the legacy department stores must understand that their practices must change to interact with these new consumers and consumer demands.  The major eCommerce retailers already understand these demands and are able to change to incorporate the demands while the legacy department stores seem to be ignoring these demands and reacting in ways that easily interact with consumers based on the retailer existing practices rather than understanding and meeting 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?

 


Millennials are already impacting the retail market through shopping and purchasing practices that fit better into their lifestyles and priorities.  This impact has been increasing for a while now and the millennials have been building their own virtual shopping and purchasing capabilities through social networks, mobile technology and third party apps supporting virtual shopping.  These demands and practices can no longer be ignored or fought by retailers, retailers must now embrace the practices and undertake a strategy of collaboration and partnership with millennials in order to succeed in the future.  Major retailers must make this significant shift, the smaller retailers have already embraced these practices and now the large retailers must embrace these shifts in order to survive.

 

There is now a history in the retail market of changes and shifts that seem to burst onto the market and require major retailers to try to adjust to survive.  Many retailers over the years have not been able to shift and have fallen by the wayside, the best example of this is the impact of Amazon on the book seller market.  If anything, the shifts in consumer practices have sped up and become more pervasive in the market and this due in large part to the millennial impact on the retail market.  Millennials have shown over and over an impatience with the status quo along with a desire to explore and develop new capabilities to meet their demands.  Millennials have grown up in technology and have a level of comfort with technology and especially in social networking and collaboration that is now driving their development of a virtual shopping and purchasing market that is disrupting the retail market.

 

Retailers must realize that they can no longer control consumer practices and they must now collaborate with consumers in order to succeed.  I see this as a long and very difficult road for the major retailers and frankly I believe we are coming into another time of great retail disruption as the major retailers thrash through the final stages of the baby boomer age of retail and move into the millennial age of retail.  Let’s face reality, major retailers are currently run by baby boomers that have a history of control and direction of the retail marketplace and relationship with consumers and now millennials are threatening this control in a retail relationship revolution. 

 

We are coming into an interesting age of the retail market that is starting with a generational clash between control and collaboration.  There will be many struggles between retailers and consumers while the market changes and while these struggles are required in order to wring the failing practices and retailers from the market there is only one outcome and that is the reign of collaboration between consumer and 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?