Retailers must develop a new model that both supports and encourages change from the consumer in order to build a long term relationship with consumers that will drive retail success. The model must be built on a flexible foundation that supports the continuously changing consumer demands. The retailer must recognize and accept the new retail environment in which consumers control the shopping and purchasing across retailers. In this model retailers must engage consumers and develop a collaborative relationship with consumers that encourages theses consumers to return. Retailers must develop a relationship with consumers that provides give and take and a reason for consumers to return. This relationship, virtual and physical, is the key to the success of retailers.
There can be no turning back now and the response of the large retailers must not shrink to eliminate bandwidth and cost, they must change the model in order to embrace and encourage the change. These large retailers must use every tool to connect with consumers at every opportunity including location based contact, activity based and search based. Consumers have broken the mold in retail shopping and purchasing by embracing technology, wireless networks, social networks and specialized shopping mobile apps and the large retailers must take their place as a major player in these tools to re-engage with consumers to encourage their shopping and purchasing.
Generally speaking retailers have been slow to embrace change and new technology, it’s really in the large retailer DNA to move slowly into new technology. Amazon and mobile technology have smashed that practice and now these retailers that in the past were able to control the market have found themselves struggling to maintain and keep up with the demands. This requires a robust change model to sense and respond to the demands and collaborate with consumers to implement the changes. This change model must be built on a foundation of flexibility and stability in order to support the increasing change demands. Retailers must invest in the technology required to support this model and most importantly these retailers must change their culture to consumer inclusion and collaboration in order to implement this continuous improvement model.
It has taken a long time for the large retailers to reach the point where their actions no longer support the consumer demands and unfortunately these retailers will need a sustained focus and effort to define and implement the type of change model that will support the changing consumer market demands. I have seen in this holiday shopping season a change in the major retailers to improve their relationship with consumers and meet consumer demands. Retailers are moving from email blasts and FaceBook sites to engaging consumers through robust web sites that react to consumer locations and support consumer shopping needs, in the store or at home. I am encouraged by these changes and hope these retailers have the stamina and support to sustain these changes and realize the potential benefits.
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?