Retailers must focus on the customers' needs and communicate with the customer in order to not fail.  I wrote it in this way because I believe that the price of admittance in the retail market is the need to listen to the customer.  The importance of customer collaboration cannot be higher. The success of retailers depends on their desire to listen to what the customers are saying to them and their ability to deliver on the customers' demands.

It is no longer enough to simply provide a means for consumers to shop and purchase. These practices will barely allow the retailer to subsist.  I think the worst place in the market that a retailer can claim is based on lowest cost.  This strategy is too fragile to Wal Mart on the one side and added value service providers on the other.  The lowest price strategy is a losing strategy from a retailer perspective for a large stretch of the market.  I understand there is and probably always will be a place for commodity shopping with a focus on low price.  Walmart has cornered this Market though from a brick and mortar perspective and Amazon has done a pretty good job cornering that market in the eCommerce sector.

The successful retailer in the future must engage the individual customer to develop a relationship with that customer.  This can be done through big data techniques and engaging social networking and mobile tools in a way that supports collaboration and one-to-one communication with the customer.  As I have previously discussed consumers are themselves taking some control and shifting the market in their shopping practices by integrating social networks and mobile technology.  This practice will continue and expand as the technology available to consumers expands and the consumers themselves put the technologies together in new ways. 

The young are leading the way in using these technologies and combining in ways that provide the greatest value.  I see this process of discovery of new tools and capabilities, especially in mobile capabilities, as quickly embraced and utilized by older consumers as the cycle of change quickens.  This process of change and continual renewal will be driving the retail environment in the future and this is why retailers must start to develop the collaborative relationship with consumers now. 

I see the future of retail being driven by the collaborative relationship between the retailer and the consumer.  This future will be driven more by the consumer than any time in the past, the consumer will force the acceptance of the collaborative relationship with the retailers.  The market is much too open and fluid for retailers to ignore the demands of the consumer.  The consumer will drive market and the successful retailers of the future will focus on the collaborative relationship rather than purchase channel or price.

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?