Trial and error is a key factor in developing a collaborative relationships and especially in developing that relationship between consumer and retailer.  Consumers are a fickle group with a short attention span and this drives a level and velocity of change in interaction that is breathtaking and also extremely intimidating for the retailer.  Many of the larger retailers are struggling with the concept and as a result are attempting to buy into the consumer collaboration through acquisition of tools.  While it is important to use the appropriate tools in collaborative efforts it is also probably more important to use and interact with the tools to engage the consumer and this is the part that requires active participation by the retailer.  The difficulty is that there is no guidebook on what works for consumers so there is a great deal of trial and error involved in the process that can make the retailer uneasy.

 

The majority of retailers and especially the larger retailers are not known for their experimentation in new technologies or retail practices.  These retailers are followers that wait for the leaders to vet new technologies and practices before embracing and implementing themselves.  This practice has been very productive for retailers in the past and this practice is also driving the current strategy for the larger retailers in acquisition of new technologies and tools.  In other words, these large retailers are embracing the new technology through acquisition after this technology has been vetted by the marketplace.  This strategy is a very good way to bootstrap their capabilities to meet the demands of the marketplace.  However, without a paired new human practice to collaborate with consumers and experiment through trial and error these technology capabilities will only allow these retailers to remain two steps behind demands of the marketplace.

 

Retailers must pair the technology capabilities with human practices to collaboration and engage consumers direction in order to discover and implement new practices to support consumer demands.  This pairing requires a long term commitment to change their culture to interact and collaborate with with consumers along and with this a commitment to encourage experimentation and an acceptance for these experiments to fail.  This requires a long term commitment from leadership to accept and even encourage failure in experimentation supporting consumer demands.

 

These large retailers must change their practices from trend followers to trend leaders in order to survive in the marketplace.  The velocity of change driven by consumer curiosity and experimentation will not allow for retailers to wait for practices and methods to become engrained in the marketplace because the new velocity of change does not generally support standard practices very well.  The new standard practice is change and this change requires a method of trial and error to experiment with the changing consumer demands.  This is the driving factor of the market disruption and retailers must embrace and change in order to survive. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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