The social and mobile technology changing the retail consumer shopping is also changing the collaboration capabilities and practices.  This is extending the desire for collaboration into an opportunity for retailers to collaborate with consumers.  This is an extension of the social aspect of shopping that the successful retailer should embrace and encourage to increase their success in meeting the consumer shopping demands.  Of course not all consumers are open to this social collaboration aspect of engagement with retailers, however there are still many consumers that would relish the opportunity to collaborate with retailers.  This social collaboration between retailers the supply chain and consumers will bring additional waves of shopping opportunities.

Retailers should incorporate this as a part of the review process in their ‘Plan, Do, Review, Improve’ continuous improvement process.  The social collaboration should extend and improve the review process.  Incorporating this social collaboration into the continuous improvement process will greatly enhance the review process which will also have a big impact on the improvement process.  The social collaboration practice will in fact increase the velocity of change that the retailer can achieve.  This increase in change velocity will be achieved due to a consolidation of the improve phase of the process.

The increase in the improve phase will be achieved as a result of incorporating the consumer/retailer/supply chain suggestions together.  In the past, prior to the social collaboration, the improvement process required more iterations to validate and adjust to consumer reaction.  Incorporating the extended supply chain partners in the continuous improvement process increased the ability to meet the demands of the consumer, however, it did nothing really to identify and clarify the demands of the consumer.  These demands required a trial and error feedback loop of implementing improvements and validation.  Social collaboration including consumers will reduce this feedback loop.

These improvements in technology and communication are introducing both demands and opportunities for retailers and consumers.  The technology and communication improvements must be embraced as an additional tool in the retailer’s toolbox to improve their ability to meet the demands of the consumer.  It is no longer enough for retailers, or the supply chain, to ignore the opportunity to collaborate with consumers.  The technology capabilities actually bring the tools to the table to collect the information from a broad spectrum of both consumer response and sales into a meaningful analysis of the demands.  The technology and tools also encourage and support social collaboration across consumers and consumer services.  The successful retailers will incorporate and embrace these tools and capabilities across the entire spectrum of the supply chain partners from raw materials to consumer.

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 consumer's 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?