We are entering into a new age of commerce that is driven by consumer experimentation with shopping and purchasing practices driven by their embrace of technology (Internet, social, mobile and network) along with a drive to support their lifestyle through experimentation with technology.  The experimentation with technology is driving the retail impact and requires a collaborative practice and reaction from retailers to support the quickly changing demands and consumer practices. Consumers are really not sure how technology can be used to support their lifestyle needs and this leads to a trial and error process that can best be described as a continuous improvement process that has been adopted by consumers to develop and change shopping and purchasing practices to meet their lifestyle demands.  This process leads to a highly disruptive retail environment that requires retailers to collaborate not only with their extended supply chain partners but also with consumers to develop the methods to support the consumer demands.

 

Most consumers are open to social interaction and especially the millennials and this is driving this surge in consumer collaborative commerce.  Consumers are going to interact with other consumers and they are also going to use the technology and the tools available to support their shopping.  Retailers need to recognize, and embrace, this simple fact in order to succeed. Consumers will collaborate with all partners and the large legacy retailers are fooling themselves if they think that they can control consumer interaction in shopping and purchasing.  Consumers have demonstrated over and over that they will utilize collaboration and technology tools to overcome limitations in their shopping and purchasing capabilities that are either planned or inadvertently enacted by retailers.

 

The only way that retailers can successfully react to these consumer changes and demands is to get ahead of the curve through increased collaboration with consumers.  This increased collaboration is the means to develop relationships with consumers in the retail omni market and retailers must embrace this practice in order to survive.  There really is no other way to look at the current retail marketplace and the sooner retailers themselves understand and embrace this new reality, the sooner these retailers will be able to sense and respond to the changing demands.  The large legacy retailers have systematically eliminated the direct consumer interaction through their drive in cost reductions and reductions in sales staff developing the relationships with consumers. This must now be re-learned by these same retailers and most importantly learned to support in the virtual retail marketplace that is now so important to consumers.

 

The genius of Amazon was the recognition of the importance of the consumer collaborative relationship and their focus on developing this relationship.  This focus on developing the relationship has paid off dramatically now as the retail marketplace has evolved and even been driven by experimentation from both consumers and Amazon.  The large legacy retailers now must recognize their deficit in consumer collaborative commerce and focus on the development of these capabilities. Consumers will continue to experiment and push the limits of technology and collaborative shopping and purchasing while Amazon continues to experiment as well with new capabilities.  There is no time left for the large legacy retailers to delay their embrace in these capabilities, they must also embrace collaborative commerce with consumers and this means dramatic changes in the culture and the retail framework.