The collaboration community will have a wide range of impacts on both the retail host business and the entire supply chain as a result of the sales benefits from retaining consumers on the site, encouraging the return of more customers to the site on a regular basis and the feedback loop created by the services and product reviews.  The increased sales resulting from consumer retention and encouragement to return to the site will positively impact the product and supplies demands from the supply chain.  It is the feedback loop generated from the services and review functions in the community that will have the greatest potential for long term impact on the supply chain.

This impact will be realized from the beginning of the supply chain from the product life cycle and then from the end of the supply chain and especially the inventory management and control to better manage the inventory and product development from the beginning to the end.  The near real time feedback from the collaboration community provides the direct consumer reaction and suggestions through the feedback loop created by the collaboration community that would not have been as readily, or more importantly as accurately available through other channels.  Purchase experience surveys and sales results only provide a portion of the information required to improve product and sales life cycle planning and forecasting.  In order to improve the accuracy of these plans more data from a wider perspective is required.

This is where the big data aspect and the pipeline of information potential from the collaboration community comes into play. Product reviews, recommendations and even the responses to consumer questions regarding products will all feed into the big data sphere to provide data points for analysis and planning.  For instance, product reviews and recommendations can be used to identify improvements to the current products along with a basis for recommendations of new products.  The responses to consumer questions is another area that will improve both the marketing of the products and even more importantly these responses and product reviews provide input to the supply chain quality program to provide a feedback loop into the quality improvements program.

While the benefits to improved sales through customer retention on the site and the increased draw to the site of consumers will be great, I think that an even greater benefit will be achieved through the information that will be available across the entire supply chain.  This information can improve the quality of the products, thereby improving the product lifecycle and in addition the inventory management.  These require a desire and a plan to collect and integrate the information across the entire supply chain.

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 consumer’s 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?