Consumers have embraced the developments and improvements in mobile technology in a more robust and faster cycle.  This is due to the acceptance and even reliance on technology in our day-to-day lives that has grown over the last twenty years.  One of the reasons for this is the pervasive availability and speed of wireless Internet service.  The availability of the Internet has turned these tools into utilities that we go to on an ever increasing basis for information at our fingertips.  Another aspect of these tools and technology is the growth of social networks that people have embraced to extend their reach and their interaction with others. 

These social networks have brought together a level of collaboration that is breathtaking in the expanse and the level of sharing and collaboration.  Social networks and collaboration add another layer to the web of information available through the Internet and these technologies.  These interacting webs support the ability to obtain information in a manner, speed and expanse that was unheard of thirty years ago.  Looked at from this perspective it is not surprising at all that consumers are utilizing these webs of collaboration to develop and enhance new shopping habits.  The beauty of this web construction is that if one strand of the web snaps, or cannot provide pertinent information there are a hundred other strands that may be able to provide the information.

This framework of consumer collaboration put retailers in quite a predicament; they can develop a fortress mentality to try to fight off the consumer collaboration, or they can embrace and support the collaboration.  There is another very important contributing factor influencing these reactions, the investment that may be required to participate.  This cost can be overwhelming and requires a paradigm shift to address.  This requires that retailers adopt an agile, or continuous investment, method to support the ever changing capability requirements. 

This continuous investment model supports the retailers requirement to change quickly to support new requirements without throwing discarding earlier investments.  This model allows the retailer to experiment by adding new components and swapping out components that no longer support the consumer shopping habits or the business requirements.  In fact this continuous investment model when coupled with a robust continuous improvement program for both software and business process capabilities will become the key future success factor for the retail industry.  This will also reverberate across the entire supply chain from the raw material supplier to the consumer.


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?