Social collaboration will drive the changes and shopping methods of omni channel retail market channel more than any other aspect driving this channel.  Omni channel market shopping is at its basis a collaboration between the retailer and the consumer.  This channel is driven by the combination of technology and social collaboration to provide a shopping outlet that supports the consumers’ changing shopping habits.  In fact you might think of the omni channel market outlet as shopping at the speed of life. 

This channel allows the consumer to immediately interact with the retailer in driving sales and new methods for shopping.  On the other hand though, in order for the retailer and the market to adjust to the reactions of the consumers requires an investment in collaborative methods and technology.  More than anything else, the reaction speed and even acceptance of new capabilities can be a little overwhelming to the retailer.  This reaction must be fought though in order for the retailer to succeed in the changing environment of the omni channel market.  This is where sharing and collaboration come into play.

Collaboration between the consumer, retailer, manufacturers and delivery carriers is critical to the continued success of every participant in the channel.  This collaboration model relies not only on the participation but also the feedback and reaction and finally the changes that will result in the collaboration.  Collaboration also requires a two way interaction with the partners.  This is a big change in the relationship of many retailers with their customers.  Amazon has been a leader in collaboration with their customers, from providing an opportunity to rate both the products and the merchants to providing links to additional merchants that sell the same products, Amazon has shown a respect and level of collaboration that was unheard of before the broke on the market.  Collaboration will change the market shopping practices across all channels and the successful retailers will be the ones that embrace this practice and collaborate with their customers to meet the needs of their customers.

A second change to the market that will need to be recognized and accepted is a level of patience and even experimentation with tools and practices to meet the changing needs of the consumer.  This requirement was highlighted this past Christmas season with the demise of at least the sustainable growth in Black Friday sales.  This season highlighted the results of the retailers practice of continuous sales and also to a certain level the same products offered by many retailers.  This highlighted the result of the retailers’ focus on price to draw customers and sales.  Consumers have now been conditioned to wait for the sale and then when the sale does break they then shop for the retailer with the inventory and the lowest price.  This practice starts a cycle of destructive sales that must be changed for the benefit of all involved.  This is where collaborative practices come to the rescue and provide the differentiating factor to draw customers. 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

What types of cross channel services and offerings would you like to see to enhance your shopping experience?  Retailers are focused on maintaining sales volumes through reductions in pricing rather than expansion of sales, or even maintaining sales through creative utilization of eCommerce services. Did you shop over the Gray Thursday / Black Friday period?  What was your experience in stores and malls?