The pull and importance of the collaborative marketplace can be seen from popularity and success of the services that provide consumers with a wide range of special offers.  This consumer collaborative marketplace started quite some time ago in the travel industry with services offered from Priceline to allow the consumer to bid on prices for hotel and airfare across all of the partners; in addition there were similar services offered by sites such as Expedia and this sector has continued to grow with services offered from Kayak as an example.  This marketplace concept has grown with sites offering special pricing on products and services such as Groupon and has extended with new services such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon and Retail Me Not that have extended the offerings to provide location based specials.


These services are providing consumers with the marketplace capabilities through the combination of social networking tools and location based technology to help the consumer shop.  These services are providing the collaborative marketplace framework for consumers and you can see by the success and continued new services coming on the market that consumers are hungry to embrace these offerings.  The challenge for merchants from these services and offerings is how can they mold and guide these services into the direction that benefits the merchants and meets the merchants’ objectives.  The danger to the merchants is that they do not control the message and the focus of these collaborative marketplace tools and services, so the services are free to focus on the objectives of the consumer.  This to me would seem to be the chief concern for merchants, how can they guide the message in a manner that provides the greatest beneficial focus for their products and services?


A third factor and increasingly important factor is collaborative marketplace framework provided by Alibaba.  As background Alibaba is the next major competitor to Amazon coming from China and expanding into the United States.  Alibaba does not offer products like Amazon, instead Alibaba provides the network and marketplace framework for partners to offer goods and services.  The consumer collaborative marketplace provided by Alibaba provides additional competition to the large retailers and must be included in the merchants’ strategies.


I see consumers taking more control of the marketplace and retail environment by embracing and extending the social and collaborative tools and services offered through various channels.  The larger retailers have less and less control over the capabilities of consumers to shop and purchase goods and services.  This collaborative marketplace concept and framework allows the smallest merchant to compete with the largest merchant on an equal footing from consumers’ viewpoint.  This increased competition must be addressed by large merchants in order to be successful in the future.

 

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?