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2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

 

tbrouill

Social Commerce Channels

Posted by tbrouill May 24, 2017


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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


Measurements in the social commerce age much more complicated now because of the impact of mobile technology on both the consumer and the businesses they frequent.  Mobile provides a continuum of measurement information crossing purchases and shopping both online and offline.  This provides a vast amount of information that must be measured together rather than in the individual points.  In order to understand the consumer demands we must take into account the consumers travels and then we must also try to engage the consumer along their travels to interact and collaborate to improve the social commerce, both shopping and purchasing, experience. 

 

Retailers and marketers must view the customer relationship in measurements rather than simply the clicks for purchases.  Mobile technology has allowed the consumer to mash up online and offline purchases and shopping in a manner that is really impossible to measure by ‘clicks’ and must be measured instead by timeframes, locations and purchases.  These expanded and complicated requirements for effective measurement are themselves evolving and changing as the consumers interact in the social commerce environment.  Mobile technology has had the greatest impact on both the ways that consumers interact with retailers in the marketplace and also the ways that consumers shop and interact with other consumers.  The growth of tools and usage of mobile technology has been probably the single greatest factor in the marketplace reaching the tipping point now that has so dramatically impacted the marketplace and the change is continuing at a breakneck pace.

 

Social commerce and shopping expands the measurement requirements to account for all of customer interaction across time and locations in order to understand the shopping and purchasing habits of consumers.  These measurements cross tools as well as mobile and non-mobile technologies to build an image or understanding of consumer practices and demands.  This is a dramatic and difficult shift for most retailers and marketing that focused on highlighting products and encouraged the purchase.  The shift requires retailers to truly understand and interact with consumers in a manner they have not been required to interact in the past.  This is requiring the interact and develop a collaborative relationship with consumers to allow new social methods of marketing as well. 

 

This is an interesting change because it impacts multi-channel legacy retailers in way that online retailers such as Amazon will not experience.  This is getting to the heart of the changes that online retailers have driven and now we are seeing the changes in the marketplace circling back to online retailers and seeing these online retailers expanding into the brick and mortar market.  The Amazon expansion into the brick and mortar marketplace though is not simply opening a new channel outlet in the same manner as other brick and mortar retailers.  Amazon as usual is experimenting with the market to remake and expand the Amazon customer experience.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

tbrouill

Social Commerce Choices

Posted by tbrouill May 18, 2017


Social commerce is a study in choices for consumers and it is also a study in control and extension of these choices.  The velocity of changes made possible by technology is buffeting the retail marketplace and as a result the common standing practices of large legacy retailers in a manner that seems to be overwhelming now to many of these retailers.  The results of the difficulties in response to these changes are clear; reduced sales, store closings and a frantic search for a strategy to address the waves of change.  Retailers are struggling to adjust their sales and outlet strategies to adjust to the changes and having difficulty in finding the combinations that meet the consumer demands and turn the tide on sales reductions.

 

I have written before that these changings are not really sudden and have been building to the tipping point we seem to have reached in the last year.  I have also written before that retailers must develop a flexible and robust framework that allows them to sense and respond quickly to discontinuous change.  Now it seems that the discontinuous change in quickening and the waves of change are getting more powerful.  This quickening is the result of consumers reaching a tipping point of a combination of technology (mobile and commerce),  social networks and imagination.  The ingredient that pushed this tipping point though has been the steady and constant growth of the millennial generation in the retail market.  This entry in the market has added dramatically to consumer choice and allowed consumers to wrest control of their shopping and purchasing options from the retailers. 

 

The choice effect has changed the retail market and the factors driving these choices are converging and driving more choice into the market.  Consumer choice with the millennial generation leading the change allows consumers to put together options to customize their shopping and purchasing habits in a manner that supports their needs at the time they are shopping.  Large legacy retailers are not accustomed to this type of activity and this is causing them to struggle in finding their direction.  The challenge I believe for these large legacy retailers is accepting the social networking aspect of shopping into their strategy and framework to allow these retailers to collaborate with consumers to sense and respond to the changing demands and choices of consumers.

 

Retailers must provide a flexible and robust framework that allows them to support the demands of consumers and more importantly they must incorporate and embrace social networking and consumer collaboration to allow them to sense the changing demands and choices of consumers.  Now it is about supporting and providing choices to consumers, in products, in sales channel and also in shopping capabilities and social networking and technology play a critical role in this capability.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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

tbrouill

Social Shopping Reality

Posted by tbrouill May 16, 2017


The new shopping reality is having the greatest impact on the retail marketplace by redefining and expanding the concept of purchasing any time, anywhere.  The consumers shopping practices are being lead by millennial demands that are then embraced by other consumers through the expanded usage and capabilities of technology and especially mobile technology.  Retailers, and especially the large legacy retailers, are struggling now to understand and embrace this new social shopping reality that is more based on technology than physical outlets.  Retailers require more flexibility to sense and respond to these changing demands and unfortunately for them they must also struggle to fit these demands into their (the retailer) infrastructure and framework.

 

These changing consumer demands or, perhaps more appropriately changing shopping reality, require a great deal of imagination to determine how to meet and react to the demands.  It is unreasonable to expect these large legacy retailers to replace their existing infrastructure and physical outlets but it is absolutely a requirement for these retailers to evaluate the direction and the impact of the changes on their infrastructure and physical outlets to support the changing shopping reality.  I believe that these retailers are knocked off balance by the recent and dramatic changes in purchasing that is changing the marketplace and in their focus on survival they need to take into account and develop a strategy to embrace these changes to the consumer shopping reality. 

 

The challenge and frankly the surprising speed in these changes are driven by consumers and these consumers are not using technology capabilities to meet their changing lifestyle demands.  Consumers are no longer forced to mold their lifestyle demands to the retailer reality and are currently taking control of their shopping and purchasing by developing and utilizing technology to support their lifestyle.  I believe this change in consumer practices that have taken control of their shopping and purchasing have left many large legacy retailers in the lurch trying to react and determine a direction.  You see many different reactions to this from expanding eCommerce capabilities through internal growth or purchasing capabilities along with a re-evaluation of brick and mortar outlets to stabilize sales and reduce costs.  These same retailers though do not seem to be reaching out to the consumers to collaborate in supporting the consumer social shopping reality.

 

Retailers must develop the relationship with consumers in order to survive in the future to support the changing social shopping reality.  The retailers also must understand and embrace the new social shopping reality is continuously being designed and developed by consumers.  Retailers must change their practices to a partnership with consumers rather than directing the consumers shopping and purchasing.  There are too many choices and too many opportunities for consumers to shop with and purchase from and retailers must focus on relationship building which is at the heart of social 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?


Social commerce shopping and purchasing has created a new retail reality and that new reality is the wave of change that now is impacting the retail marketplace and especially legacy retailers that are struggling to adjust to the changes in the market.  Social commerce impact on this marketplace is not however limited to the sales and shopping services offered by retailers the most significant and therefore making the greatest impact changes are the consumer cultural changes that are impacting the market place.  These cultural changes are the most significant impact and also the most significant to try to implement by retailers and because of this, these cultural changes are also having the greatest impact on the retail marketplace. 

 

Retailers struggle to implement cultural changes comes down to a generational struggle within the organization.  Millennials growth in the marketplace has increased their impact in the shopping and purchasing habits and these changes have been quickly embraced by other consumers because they recognize the value of these changes to their lifestyles.  Retailer leadership however has been delayed in recognizing the required changes to their culture and as a result have been reluctant to change.  I think this is in large part because changes to purchasing and shopping has never before required changes to retail culture.  I can understand a leadership perspective that is reluctant to culture change because internal culture never before required dramatic change as a result in changing shopping patterns.

 

In fairness this cultural change is not a sudden change, it has really been building now for years starting with the expansion of Facebook and other social networks and their acceptance and use by consumers.  Retailers looked at these tools as marketing and customer relationship outlets and while they incorporated the usage of these tools in their practice most of these retailers left them as a segment of their marketing tools.  They never really maintained a focus or further integration plan for these tools to their other practices.  However during this same time consumers continued to expand their use of these tools, along with additional social networking tools to build relationships and share with other consumers.

 

The tipping point however came with the growth of millennials in the market.  Millennials are immersed in technology and they are using this comfort in technology, along with their comfort in social media and networking, to build their own shopping reality based on interactions and collaboration with other consumers and retailers as the retailers recognize and implement these changes.  Retailers are now forced to recognize and embrace these cultural changes in order to support this new consumer reality.

 

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 impact of social commerce continues and continues to grow in the retail marketplace.  Initially this caught retailers by surprise it seems when sales in retail stores initially were impacted and now the market is in a place where the brick and mortar sales while perhaps somewhat stabilizing are still very soft.  It's a bit like watching a slow motion train wreck as we continue with declines in brick and mortar stores, decline in sales at malls and mall closings while increases in online sales remain strong.  Legacy retailers are now scrambling to adjust to this changing marketplace and my suspicion is that their activities will not address the underlying cause which is the millennials reached a level of participation and size that is impacting the marketplace in a dramatic way.

 

Legacy retailers cannot adjust their omni channel structure or makeup to resolve these issues buffeting the marketplace.  They must re-make themselves by changing their cultures and embracing the social commerce and social structure that support social commerce.  Consumers are changing the way they shop and this in turn is changing the way they purchase.  Retailers cannot simply incorporate the eCommerce technology and expect to be successful.  The continued impact of social commerce is the process and continuing change to consumer shopping and purchasing habits.  These changes have become a process driven by the changing demands and practices of consumers. 

 

These changing demands are only going to increase in velocity based on changing and evolving consumer shopping and purchasing practices.  Retailers can no longer rest after changing, they must continuously change and evolve their culture in order to support the consumer demands.  Basically it is not enough to implement a new technology because these new technologies require the interaction and coordination of social practices.  Retailers must understand and then embrace this requirement to change and then they must get to the difficult part of changing their culture.  A culture cannot be changed without the support and encouragement of leadership and this must be accepted as a long term requirement.

 

The interesting point regarding this continued impact is that I believe that while the leadership of legacy retailers may not have accepted this new reality, the culture of these retailers are in a turmoil that is resulting in the growth of millennials in the job market.  Legacy retailer leadership must open up and accept these changes in culture in order to survive.  These leaders do not need to embrace the changes, they must simply accept these changes and requirements to allow the culture to begin the change.  These leaders can embrace the change at a later time when the results and benefits are realized. 

 

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?


How retailers react and grow their social commerce strategy and capabilities needs to be very much a part of their culture in order to be successful.  The success realized by Amazon or even Starbucks as a result of their social commerce strategies is due in large part to their culture and the focus of leadership on the cultural as well as commercial applications.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to buy a culture because of the dependency on leadership to support and encourage the culture.  This is a very big difference between the current marketplace and the historical marketplace; you can buy technologies and you can buy competitors however you cannot buy the culture that make the technologies and even the competitors successful.

 

There are many examples now of retailers especially that have attempted to either buy into or develop the technology capabilities to support social commerce with varying degrees of success and failure.  This is related to the culture and the focus of the company leadership to accept and encourage the new focus and culture required to succeed.   Many companies have implemented the technology to support eCommerce and omni-channel sales with a focus on cutting costs and improving profits only to find that their investments did not produce the anticipated results.  These failures I believe are brought on more from not accepting the culture and a focus on profits over customer service and loyalty than anything else. 

 

Organizations discuss the life time value of customers and yet most organizations to not embrace the concept of the life time value of customers.  What I mean by this is that while organizations intellectually understand the value of customers, they do not socially accept the concept that they must invest in the relationship in order to build the long term relationship.  I think that the difference now is that customers are focused on developing relationships with retailers while most of the larger legacy retailers are still focused on the transactional sale with the customer.  To succeed in the future retailers must begin to focus on the social aspect of the sale rather than only the transactional aspect of the sale. 

 

Millennials are changing the shopping and purchasing aspects of the marketplace and in order to remain viable and grow retailers must embrace the social aspect of commerce.  This requires a focus on culture and relationships first and the technology and operational execution of the sale second.  An important ingredient to their success is also the cultural embrace of the life time value of the customer relationship to ensure a life time commitment from the customer.  Millennials are putting together new methods to interact on a daily basis and retailers must give them a reason to interact in addition to just the product.

 

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

Customer Collaboration

Posted by tbrouill May 9, 2017


The definition of customers as it relates to collaboration must be expanded now to take into account all of the customers across the the extended collaborative partnership.  Thu customer relationship is extended across the supply chain along with the customers of each of the extended partners in a social network relationship that crosses in many places.  This customer collaboration requires support of customers as they relate to many partners where one customer can be part of many partners network with many different customer type relationships.  These relationships now have blurred the line in many cases in the customer - supplier relationship where one customer may be the supplier of many other customers.  This relationship makes for a much stronger and much more complicated collaborative network because of the navigation requirements demanded by these complicated relationships. 

 

Where does the one type of relationship begin and another type of relationship end?  This question actually may be inappropriate now in thes new extended networks because the demands crossover between both the relationship types and the needs of the partners at the time of the interaction.  Rather than a customer-to-supplier relationship there needs to be a growth in social relationship where the social network needs are supported by the partner with the immediate ability. 

 

Let me use Amazon as an example of the changing demands and capabilities of the customer-to-supplier relationship.  I am an Amazon customer that places an order for a particular product and as I am shopping I evaluate all of the other customer product rating and evaluations and then I review the questions that other customers have posed that have also been answered by customers that previously purchased the product.  I decide to make the purchase based on all of this information and then after the purchase I join the circle of marketing the product by providing a product review and responses to other customer questions.  These responses may go positive or negative and in the event of a negative response the product seller may engage the customer to both understand how to improve the product and also to resolve the negative situation.  At this point, as a customer I may engage with the seller on redesign of the product to improve ad resolve my issue so that I in turn will provide a positive reaction to the seller’s response. 

 

These types of activities are going on thousands of times a day in thousands of situations and technology provides the foundation to extend and expand these relationships.  Everyone in the network has effectively become a customer.  This is why the collaborative network is so important and must be nurtured and supported by the extended collaborative network of 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

Accelerating Change

Posted by tbrouill May 7, 2017


The pace of change in the market is accelerating at a pace that is overwhelming many organizations due to the combination of technology, social networking and the entry and expansion of millennials in the marketplace.  This acceleration of change requires a robust process to sense and respond to the change in a continuous manner so that you do not fall behind in meeting the demands.  The importance of a maintaining a process that continuously monitors and alerts to changing demands cannot be highlighted enough in addition, this process must include your extended partners along with customers that interact with all of your extended partners.  Maintenance and support of these relationships are more important than ever now to support the process and methods required to sense and respond to changing demands.

 

In these circumstances require enhanced and extended collaboration across your extended partners and especially with the entire chain of customers in order to maintain your place and succeed in the changing market.  You must develop and provide a technical social framework for this interaction that encourages and supports collaboration at the point where and when it is most conducive and convenient to the partners.  Innovation and changes do not manifest in a schedule and there must be an open framework that encourages interaction and collaboration at the point and time when convenient or when the idea strikes.  You must be able to support collaboration and interaction based on your customer and partner schedules and you must realize that your customers and partners will be in different areas of the world and different timezones. 

 

Amazon does an amazing job of sensing and responding to customer and partner changing demands in their multidimensional framework that brings together customers purchasing products, partners selling products, manufacturers producing products and carriers delivering products.  This entire framework is maintained in a customer centric foundation that provides a means and the opportunities for all participants to obtain information and then respond to the information.  Amazon acts as both a guide and referee in this framework to ensure the voice of the customer remains the focus.  This, I think, is a key critical success factor for the continued success of the Amazon marketplace.  Another critical success factor is the culture of experimentation and encouragement to change that drives Amazon’s interaction with customers, partners and internal cross functional interactions.  The Amazon difference here is the focus on the customer experience rather than the benefits to the Amazon bottom line.    

 

I see that it is important to provide a platform for collaboration and social interaction supporting all partners and customers, however the customer focus is the ingredient that energizes and allows you to succeed.  Amazon has the methods exactly right in this market, in fact I would say that they are key to changing the market and the integration expectations and 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?


Customers, products and service demands are continuously changing and transforming and the supply chain and businesses must also change and transform in order to meet these demands.  The market disruption we are seeing now is the result of major changes that is transforming the retail marketplace and the way that businesses interact with their customers.  In order to succeed you must change and transform with your customers to meet their changing demands.  This requires a means to sense and respond to the changing demands from your customers and your partners and even your partners customers.  No business can succeed alone and collaborative support of changing services and demands requires a process oriented approach in order to respond in a manner that allows you to maintain the rate and velocity of change.  

 

The continuous transformation in markets and especially customer demands requires a process of continuous improvement to sense and respond to the changing demands and services.  This continuous improvement process though is more difficult to implement and maintain because is must cross the entire chain of internal and external partners.  This requires a robust and transparent end to end collaborative partnership to maintain the level of collaboration and trust to support and react to the transformation changes that are washing over the marketplace. The results of this enhanced level of collaboration and continuous improvement will provide the capabilities to react to changing demands and also the process to identify the change and determine an appropriate reaction to the changing demands.

 

One important aspect to the continuous transformation process is information and the ability to collect, understand and then react to this information.  I would say that the troubles experienced in today’s marketplace are directly related to the information availability and utilization of the players.  The difficulty is not due to any one aspect, there are areas of information collection, information analysis and then reaction to the information that cross all partners within the chain.  This issue is caused by a combination of failures along with a lack of collaborative partnerships to allow for reaction to support the demands identified by the information.  Again, this requires a robust network of collaborative partners to analyze and react to the information and demands.

 

The marketplace is changing quickly and the velocity is increasing as customers across the marketplace react and incorporate new tools and capabilities into their practices and interactions.  This increased velocity has created a very big challenge for retailers that must be resolved by them or it will overcome them.  We are seeing the results of the velocity of transformation on retailers that have not reacted to the demands due to a combination of lack of information, lack of understanding and limited collaborative interaction with partners. I think the key challenge is understanding and accepting the information and demands of the market and 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?


Transparency of intent, direction and objectives is required to ensure the full participation of the collaborative partnership to develop a strong and cohesive partnership that supports the needs of each of the partners.  Transparency is required to build trust across the partnerships by providing a foundation of open and honest communications among the partners.  Transparency is also especially important to the customers of the partners to encourage the customers to also return again for purchase, interaction and support from the partners.  Transparency is one of the key foundational building blocks for successful partnerships.  This is also and easy concept to fall by the wayside either through not paying attention or by limiting the transparency to areas that one of the other partners feels is not pertinent to the partnership.

 

It is difficult to determine what information or practice is pertinent to a topic or activity because of the many different interactions and priorities. It is also important that privacy requirements, confidentiality and also trade secrets are protected from malicious intent. In these times it is especially difficult to maintain a clear understanding of privacy requirements as it pertains to personal information as well as national and international privacy rules and regulations.  All of these factors result in limitations and controls in both the type and manner of transparency.  This is also one of the reasons why you must guard against loss of transparency with your partners, it is too easy to limit the information based on the above concerns and as a result impact the trust and also capabilities of the partners and customers in the partnerships.

 

As you can imagine or have probably already experienced personally and professionally that it is extremely difficult to determine what information is appropriate to share.  As a result of these concerns it is also very difficult to built and then maintain a relationship trust when you must be  so careful in how and what you share.  You can maintain the transparency though by starting with evaluation activities with partners that focus on the types of information and developing agreements on the types of information that is appropriate to share and when it is appropriate to share.  These initial activities build the foundation for transparency through up front discussions and agreement on the types of appropriate information to be shared.  This type of up front agreement provides the foundation for trust that can be built upon through the development of the relationships.

 

I honestly do not know that specific types of information are important to share to provide transparency and build trust.  I do believe though that up front discussions regarding the types of information and the times this information is appropriate to share will build the trust and provide transparency.  Transparency and trust are built on defining intent and then delivering on those definitions and agreements.

 

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 much more difficult to encourage and then maintain participation in a collaborative partnership with the customers of the partner businesses.  This is where the continuous monitoring and improvement program enters into the equation to provide a framework to generate the continued interest and participation of the customers in the collaborative partnership.  Customers require encouragement and clear demonstration and then delivery of benefits to their participation in the collaborative partnership.  Since there is no formal agreement or contract with customers to participate in your collaborative partnership your customers require a continuous stream of interaction and demonstrated benefits that will result from their participation in the partnership.   

 

A continuous stream of interaction can be very difficult at first and requires dedication and stamina to produce content that both attracts customers and also encourages interaction and contribution from customers.  The content entirely depends on your customer base however you must not make assumptions on your customer base and interests because this will surely either miss a the mark on interest or overlook a segment of your customer and most likely it will cause both issues.  Interaction with your customers will allow you to learn from them as well as sell to them.  In many ways this is the basis and foundation for collaboration; the interaction and learning from each other that allows and encourages both sides to develop a relationship.

 

Collaboration with your customer is not just producing and maintaining a web site and it is not just sending broadcast email messages to your customers.  Collaboration is interaction and communication between yourself and your customers, it is a relationship a great deal beyond the one way broadcast of information or encouraging sales in multiple channels.  Collaboration with your customers is difficult because you must determine how to interact with your customers and different customers are comfortable with different types of interaction.  Collaboration requires a range of communication and interaction to meet the different types demanded by customers.  There is no set method of developing the collaboration relationship and that is why the continuous improvement process of plan, do, check, act is so important to developing and maintaining the customer collaborative relationship.

 

Continuous improvement methods provide a very flexible engine to developing and maintaining the customer relationship and provides a basis for maintaining the relationship.  This can be challenging at first because of a lack of participation from the customer and will require frequent changes in order to tune the model to align with your customer demands and comfort in communication.  Your customers will also be adjusting and changing their preconceptions on interactions and reactions to your collaboration trials so what may not work today may be a perfect fit later in the relationship as it grows and matures.  This requires constant maintenance and review in order to maintain the customer interest and this must be taken into account.  This is a long term investment that may not produce great results in the short term and you must take this into account.

 

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 robust continuous improvement program that includes all external collaboration partners will support the growth and maintenance of your collaborative partnerships.  The collaboration framework provides a guide to encourage participation and the continuous analysis of methods to improve the collaboration across business partners and especially external customers.  The continuous improvement methodology encourages methods and processes that can be streamlined and focused on the collaboration network and provide a structured means means to monitor progress, identify improvements, implement those improvements and then monitor the results to identify additional improvements. 

 

A strong collaboration network requires a method to monitor the collaboration network and the objectives of the collaboration partners to identify improvements that will provide additional value to the partners and maintain the interest of the partners.  The collaborative network requires a process and a method to delivery improvements to the network in order to maintain and grow the interest of the collaboration partners.  The continuous monitoring and improvement process provides a clear roadmap for the partners to follow that will maximize the satisfaction and the success of the collaborative partnership. 

 

Without a strong process to monitor and then broadcast the results of the collaborative improvements the partners will tend to lose interest in the partnerships.  All of the partners must understand the direction and objectives of the partnership and the continuous monitoring and improvement process supports the communication required to encourage their participation in the partnership.  Clear and concise communication among partners is a very important ingredient to the continued success of the partnership. 

 

In addition to the delivery and the communication of objectives the continuous monitoring and improvement process provides a method to refine both objectives and delivery methods for the objectives based on actual results.  Partners will begin the relationship based on the promise of improvements however they will require delivery of the objectives along with the benefits from those objectives in order to maintain and grow the collaborative partnership.  This cannot be achieved without a robust continuous monitoring and improvement program. 

 

The continuous improvement methodology of monitoring, identification of improvements and then implementation of the improvements provides the best method to support and maintain collaborative partnerships.  The partners will not stand still to progress and will quickly lose interest in the partnerships that do not produce a continuous stream of benefits to the partners that will maintain interest and encourage participation in the partnership.  There are too many distractions for businesses from day to day requirements and problems to assume that the the partners will continue participation in the collaborative partnership without a means to encourage the participation.  This process supports a method to clearly promote and demonstrate the benefits of participation while providing a means to delivery new improvements.     

 

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?