Current technology capabilities and the promise of new uses for this technology along with advancements in technology will drive increased collaboration between consumers. All of the eCommerce capabilities and the opportunities that I have been proposing also provide an opportunities for retailers to collaborate with consumers taking the relationship to a new level and opening doors to new shopping opportunities. One thing that I can say for sure is that consumers will explore, develop new and expand current collaboration methods and practices at an increasing pace and retailers must recognize and embrace to succeed in the future. As the aliens say in the cheap sci-fi movies ‘Resistance is futile!’
There are a number of consumer social networks that support and encourage collaboration among consumers to develop a stronger network. Groupon is a good example of this type of practice. Everyone is familiar with the model; the consumer subscribes to the service and special value sales are delivered to their in-box. When the consumer purchases, they are given the opportunity to promote their purchase on other social sites and if three additional people purchase the same product from their promotion the original consumer receives an additional discount. Then there are the social sites like Four Square that provide a means to recommend anything from restaurants to retailers to their network of friends. There are new sites and types of collaboration popping up all the time, they have been expanding as the mobile technology expands and is embraced by the consumer. There is no reason to think that this type of collaboration network will not expand as the technology improves.
This is where the attitude of the retailers comes into play. In the past, the retailers have fought consumer shopping practices that they viewed as detrimental to their sales, window shopping is a great example of this behavior. However the consumers have exerted their own desires over the retailers practices and have continued to expand what may be called network shopping; using their social network to recommend and find the desired product at the best price. Retailers such as Amazon have embraced the consumer social network aspect of shopping and show continued success as the embrace and expand their consumer collaboration. Retailers fighting this collaboration will only lose sales and eventually go out of business.
Unfortunately for retailers, consumers now are beginning to exert control over the shopping experience and this will only expand and grow with technology capabilities. Retailers must in turn revise the way in which they both interact with the consumer and the manner in which they sell to the consumer. The retailers must be prepared also to ‘turn and burn’ technology because the consumer trends and capabilities are changing in and increasingly discontinuous manner.
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 consumers’ experience? Improving the consumers 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?