The consumer collaboration community can make a very positive impact on both the relationship and the value derived from and for your extended partners.  The consumer community opens a new avenue of data directly from interested and engaged consumers that can be utilized to better understand consumer practices and objectives along with direct reactions to products and consumer services such as direct product delivery and product quality.  I see an opportunity to use the community members to eliminate the need for services previously provided through surveys and focus groups.  The combination of the consumer community and big data analysis can replace the majority of surveys and focus groups through the analysis of data provided directly from the consumer.

The consumer community provides the framework to support the participation and encourage retention of consumers on the site.  This participation from consumers provides the basis of data that will be available to analyze.  It should be obvious though that the value provided by this data increases as the volume of data collected increases.  The value and accuracy of research performed on the data is enhanced by the volume of data.  In order to gain the greatest value you must increase the ‘stickiness’ of the consumer site to increase the retention and consumer participation.  So the first order of business is building and maintaining a site that encourages and supports the participation and retention of consumers after they have found the site.

While the site is the gateway for consumer participation, you must also identify the objectives of your network partners in order to provide a focus and methods to support your extended partner requirements.  From the outset I see two important areas where the consumer community can provide information and guidance to your extended partner network; the quality of the product and accuracy in demand planning and forecasting.  The quality of the product takes on not only the quality in producing the product but also the methods in delivering the product in a presentable fashion.  The accuracy in demand planning and forecasting also includes the analysis of the product lifecycle in forecasting the needs.  This is where the the consumer community will really produce value.  The important aspect of both the quality and the improved demand forecasting is the data collection from a wide source of consumers; the more data from consumer response collected, the more accurate the analysis. 

Your consumer community will provide data from consumer interaction and reaction to other consumers and this information can provide an extreme value in the product lifecycle and accurately defining the consumer desires and more importantly when the product has run its course of sales and should be eliminated.  You can use the consumer data to identify when comments and interaction on products starts, as it builds interest and then as the interest declines to improve the demand accuracy and also identify new products.  You can use the consumer community to test and refine products in limited runs before committing to a large manufacture run saving a great deal of expense in producing a product the consumer will buy.

The data collected for analysis allows you to perform survey type analysis from consumer response to products and other consumers rather than simply form the survey questions.  This eliminates the risk that your survey is not asking the proper questions.  You can analyze consumer actions and quickly refine the questions without impacting the data and the analysis.  I see this as one of the greatest values provided by the consumer community.

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?