As I have stated previously, in order to maintain success in this changing collaboration community environment, retailers must participate as a member of the community rather than simply offering products for purchase.  This participation can come in many forms and should be based on a simple practice of providing value and services for the community in a give and take manner and eliminate the single minded focus on sales and marketing.  The objective of the participation for retailers is the long term retention of customers and the promotion of the retailers’ products and services from those customers.

In my opinion Amazon provides the the most prominent example of participation in a collaboration community and I think other retailers should look at Amazon for guidance in the give and take participation of the community.  Amazon proves that you can provide services and even promote competitors on your site and still be very successful.  Amazon provides value to the community for example by encouraging product and service evaluations from customers and then not only sharing the reviews but also using the evaluations to improve products and services.  Some of their practices would have been unheard of before Amazon, like offering the same product from other vendors for instance.

I do not suggest that retailers should simply copy the Amazon offerings, I am suggesting that retailers embrace the Amazon philosophy.  This philosophy is to embrace the community and provide value to that community even if every transaction with a consumer does not involve a sale.  This philosophy is one of the key factors that has carried Amazon from the beginning to become one of the most influential retailers and the amazing factor is that Amazon has no brick and mortar outlet!  This was unheard of prior to Amazon entering the market and even after all of these years and the proven success of this philosophy there are really no competitors to Amazon in this model.

Rather than focusing on new technology I think retailers should focus on communication and participation in the consumers’ collaborative community.  Embracing the Amazon philosophy requires open communication and participation.  In fact I think that Amazon being the key major early adopter of this philosophy and concept allowed them to mold this concept and services which in turn provides them with a major lead on their competitors.  This doesn’t mean that retailers should not embrace the philosophy, in fact I see this philosophy doing well with the small specialty retailers. 


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?