Consumers are now using the tools they have available, both technology and social networks, to build a value network that supports their needs and their lifestyles. This value network requires input and integration to retailer networks and capabilities, however it is by no means controlled or directed by retailers and their retail network capabilities. All partners within the consumer value network provide some type of support or capability required by consumers to support their needs at the time of execution. These needs and demands change depending on the season and the lifestyle and especially the event the consumer may be involved with at the particular time of their search or interaction. Consumers are no longer limited by seasonality, individual retailer availability, geographic location, channel or time of day because consumers are using the tools available to obscure these limitations.
This value network that consumers have built provides the means for consumers to control their interactions with retailers in a type of virtual mall concept. Consumers are using technology, networks and third party apps to build a value network that is cloud based and can be used at any time and any place to augment and support their shopping and purchasing needs at the time. This value network does not require any specific retailer input because the network is build on search capabilities and social network connectivity. The value network though is the glue that holds the services together and it also the process that defines the usage and objectives. The cloud based tools and mobile technology provide the tools then to support the process and the objectives. As objectives change the process would change and then the tools can be realigned to support the changing objectives.
Consumers have build a new model to interact with the retail market that does not depend on any one retailer to support their demands and objectives. This new model does require that retailers recognize and adjust to the consumer value network in order to extend their relationships with consumers. This means that retailers must first change their viewpoint and culture to accept the interaction demands from this value network and become an integral part of the value network. This requires retailers to increase and expand engagement through this value network with the objective of increasing consumer collaboration to build and extend their relationships.
The large retailers are now building new capabilities through a strategy of acquisition. This strategy allows them to short circuit the time that would have been required to build these new capabilities. The challenge though for these retailers is not the tools or the technology, they have shown that they can acquire these new tools, what they must do in order to integrate with the consumer value network is to change their culture to inclusion, engagement and collaboration with consumers. This culture change is also the most difficult and requires focus and dedication to follow-through to ensure the culture becomes second nature.
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?