The retail omni market has reached the level where what I would refer to as the ‘base’ functionality such as inventory availability, price and even to a large extent delivery options and costs practices are no longer differentiating factors and are now baseline requirements. The challenge now for retailers it focused on the social aspects of the retail omni market such as shopping and consumer interaction to ensure the customer regularly returns to the retailer through any channel. This area of social interaction is where the challenge comes into play due to the velocity of the changes that consumers implement changes to their practices. This is also the area where consumers are using technology easily available to allow them to implement change in their practices, thereby effectively turning the tables on retailers and wresting control of the social interaction and with it the direction of retail shopping and purchasing.
As a result of this retailers must extend the flexibility of framework and foundational technologies to support the capabilities and, most importantly, the velocity of change in these capabilities that consumers are implementing in their shopping and purchasing. This is a major shift in the retailer practices from a closed environment that controls shopper interaction, to an open and distributed environment that supports and encourages collaboration and customer engagement with the retailer to ensure the return of the customer. Since price and availability are no longer a differentiating factor, retailers must focus on the social interaction and collaboration with consumers is probably the greatest factor in this social interaction. This is really no surprise to retailers and in fact the leaders in retail have been moving in this direction for quite some time.
The leaders in this retail change in practices such as Amazon have been focused on the social interaction and collaboration aspect of the consumer experience for quite some time. Online retailers especially have had to focus on the technology social aspect of retail because of the simple fact that without a brick and mortar presence these online retailers have not had the luxury of human interaction with the consumer. On the other hand, retailers with the brick and mortar presence have overlooked the technology social aspect of retail because of their long standing human interaction. These retailers have focused on the operational side of the retail equation though and now must play catch up with the technology social aspect.
The key requirement for this social interaction, consumer collaboration and engagement is speed of delivery to support the velocity of change. The velocity of change in consumer social interaction requires a heightened awareness to sense the change and even to guide the change in the social interaction and collaboration. This ability to sense the change requires the retailer to improve their collaborative practices across the entire extended supply chain and especially the communication links with consumers. This is the next frontier where the legacy retailers must focus to play ‘catch up’ with major online retailers such as Amazon. These legacy retailers must focus on the velocity of changing dimensions and explosion of interaction with the consumer across the entire retail omni market environment. It can be very intimidating to the legacy retailers when behemoths such as Wal Mart are forced to play catch up. It also speaks to the types and scope of change that has pushed Wal Mart into this corner.