Retailers must embrace and incorporate the consumer ‘turn and burn’ technology utilization and social networking if they are to remain successful and the most appropriate platform for the retailers is the eCommerce platform. Unfortunately for retailers, consumers do not develop a strategy for their technology utilization and social networking. This means that the retailer must embrace a strategy of standards and component based technology in order to provide the flexibility to change as the consumer changes. In this future it will be the social collaboration tools and practices of the consumers that will be critical for the retailers to embrace in order to be successful.
In the case of developing the eCommerce platform to collaborate with consumers, embrace is a critical term. The eCommerce platform must support and allow for changes to the methods of consumer communication and encourage the one-on-one response from the consumer to collaborate with the consumer. This in turn means that the retailer cannot take six months to a year to implement capabilities supporting the changing consumer capabilities and practices. The retailer must at a minimum keep up with the consumer practices and optimally must continuously implement and push new capabilities to the consumer in a trial manner to gauge the consumer response. The eCommerce platform must be engaged through an agile continuous improvement strategy to deliver features and capabilities on a short cycle of 4 - 6 weeks to keep it fresh and interesting to the consumers.
In order to maintain success in this environment the retailers’ eCommerce platform must be a destination of choice for activities other than shopping. It must be a destination where the consumer lingers, shops and interacts with other consumers to develop the social network and the interest to return frequently. Google and Facebook advertising is successful because people return frequently to share and look for information or guidance. The retailers’ eCommerce site in the future must provide this same type of capability in order to be successful. Amazon is doing wonderful things to develop the collaboration with the consumers, from consumer product ratings to pushing consumer questions about products out to consumers who already purchased the product.
Amazon has learned and embraced the collaborative social aspects of the consumer relationship to increase the return and the retention of customers. Remember, the value of the customer is not one sale, the value of the customer is the lifetime relationship and the repeat sales. Retailers will not realize the value and the return provided by the lifetime customer if the eCommerce platform lags behind the consumer practices and capabilities. In addition and most importantly, retailers will not realize the value and the return provided by the lifetime customer if the do not create and encourage the conversation and mutually beneficial relationship with the customer. This means that the retailer must focus on the happiness of the customer and not making the sale at all costs.
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?