By all appearances and actions consumers are embracing Commerce 2.0, or the collaborative marketplace, and this is leaving many retailers chasing the market and the sales. In order to maintain success the merchants must also embrace this new practice and framework. Consumers are not simply sitting back and waiting for the next product that a major retailer has decided should be accepted and purchased by the consumer, they are actively searching out, and also recommending products through their social networks and the specialized services such as Groupon. The successful merchants will embrace the collaborative marketplace and focus on the shopping rather than the purchase.
Consumers not only want to get value, they also want to give value. We are now seeing where consumers will engage in many types of services to provide feedback to improve the service or even the product. The entertainment and restaurant market is probably the best example of this engagement. Yelp provides a platform for consumers to engage and network with other consumers to rate service from both merchants, restaurants and entertainment venues. There are many others providing this same type of service and this is the type of services that the large retailers should embrace. We already see small local retailers engaging the consumer through social networks, the ‘shop local’ practice is strong and successful not because its a catchy phrase, its successful because the local merchants engage consumers through social networks.
The initial focus of retailers on social networking was and in many cases still is as a marketing channel and a consumer complaint channel. This was a good beginning however consumers have progressed dramatically in their capabilities and as their capabilities increase they are also pushing their desires and methods for interacting. Large retailers must recognize these additional demands and support them in order to maintain their success.
The greatest challenge for large retailers is to understand and embrace the concept that the consumer has wrested control of their shopping and purchasing from the retailer. I think the large retailers have been expending a great deal of effort in fighting these trends because first it is hard to recognize the shift and second because it is difficult to give up control. How will these merchants select products to offer? This is where the merchants must begin to focus on engaging the consumer and bringing them into the process. Embracing this method will provide two values to merchants, first it will provide the merchant with the types of products and features the consumer desires, second the engagement will retain the customer.
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?