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?