Technology has become a dual driving force in relation to consumers and this force is driving and changing the consumer social practices which in turn is also driving changes into their shopping practices. I have come to think of it as an infinity loop where technology manufacturers develop and market new technology to consumers and then the consumers use that new technology to simplify their shopping habits with all other retailers. Mobile technology is currently the key driving force to these changes however this is simply the latest tool in the technology world.
In the initial wave of Internet technologies the desktop computer was the driving factor and the capabilities basically doubled every two years, driving consumers to new purchases to obtain the new technologies. Next these new capabilities and cost reductions were driven by laptops which also drove consumers to replace the desktop workstations with laptops which allowed them mobility inside and outside their house. We finally reached the point when the advancements were not so dramatic and wireless capabilities started to lead the capabilities improvements which allowed mobile technology to flourish.
We are now in the mobile technology wave and by comparison we are seeing the same dramatic advances in mobile technology that we saw previously in the initial wave of Internet technologies. Unsurprisingly we are also seeing the eager consumer adoption of this technology which is now driving dramatic changes in consumer shopping practices. In this current wave the combination of technology tools, improvements in wireless availability and bandwidth and the mobility of the tools have come together to drive increasingly dramatic changes in consumer shopping habits. The key to this current wave is the impact of the mobile software; there’s an app for everything now.
These new capabilities are in essence pitting one retail sector against another; the success of the technology retail sector is directly impacting the other retail sectors from CPG to apparel to entertainment. New software mobile apps are now encouraging and supporting these new shopping habits that allows consumers to shop prices and products from all stores while standing in one store. This is why I compared these practices as an infinity loop.
Each iteration of this loop now is delivering more power to the consumer and with the new mobile apps the consumer is able to harness this new power to increase their leverage with retailers. As I have previously discussed retailers have been fighting these improvements in consumer capabilities but they must soon realize that they cannot hope to fight this wave when there is another member of the retail market that is realizing new success and sales increases with every improvement in this new mobile technology. This is why I have promoted the continuous improvement cycle to allow retailers to react to the changes.
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?