As I have stated, it is important now for merchants to expand the viewpoint of customer purchasing to include customer shopping in order to understand and support the process changes that consumers are driving.  Consumers have turned the retail purchase process on it’s ear through the use of technology and social networking.  By doing so they have brought to light the necessity to expand the support of the purchase process to cover the shopping process as well.  The way for merchants to address these changes brought about by the consumer is to understand and take into account the shopping process as a whole. 

Understanding and incorporating this shopping process into merchants’ practices is the only method that I can see that will help merchants to react and support the consumers’ practice.  The fact that the consumer shopping process can be essentially the same for all merchants is not important.  The important factor to this exercise is how the individual merchant reacts to and supports the shopping process.  This is the factor that will allow the merchant to support the consumer shopping process based on their own (the merchant’s) purchase and delivery process.  This incorporation of the shopping process with the merchant purchase process will allow the merchant to better support the consumer practices.

It is a generally accepted understanding in business process modeling that in order to accurately describe the process you must understand the entire process.  It seems to me that merchants have only been focused on a part of the process when describing the consumer purchase model, the purchase.  They have supported the various aspects of the consumer purchase using technologies from mobile to in store process along with cross overs from eCommerce to the brick and mortar store.  What these merchants have not taken into account is the shopping process and how the shopping process both impacts and is impacted by the purchase process.

The shopping process itself is also driven by technology and physical aspects of the consumers’ experience.  Defining the process model itself is very difficult because it changes based on the consumer needs and even time availabilities.  It changes based on the type of shopping also, if the consumer is searching for a particular product their actions are different than an impulse type of purchase.  So, the merchant must define these types of shopping in order to understand and support the changing practices.  The keys to defining the consumer shopping process is flexibility and reusability of purchase processes for the consummation of the shopping process. 

The reusability is probably the most difficult aspect of the process mapping exercise. For instance you must be aware of how the browsing process is similar between the eCommerce and brick and mortar. The reusability of functionality will allow the merchant to support changing consumer practices.  The definition of the shopping process will allow the merchant to understand how the virtual and physical aspects of shopping impact the purchase process.  This will be the way for merchants to succeed in the quickly changing consumer purchasing world.  This ties the functionality together to help the merchant keep up with 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?