We are seeing from this most recent holiday season the effects of mobile technology on consumer shopping and purchasing practices and this is just the beginning of the changes. Consumers are taking more control over their shopping and purchasing through these new capabilities and the rate of change will only increase. Retailers must now react to these changes in order to maintain their relationship, and sales, with their customers. Consumers at the same time are continuously expanding and their purchasing and shopping reach through social networks and technology capabilities. This consumer embrace and drive for technology will drive changes to retail shopping and purchasing that we cannot forsee at this point.
I see these changes and being driven by consumers as a drive by consumers to take control of their shopping and purchasing to fit into their own best interests and budget. In order to prepare and support these changes that are being driven by consumers the retailer must increase their flexibility and focus on collaboration with the consumer. This focus on collaboration translates for the retailer into a focus on developing and maintaining a relationship. This requires a long term focus and patience in developing the relationship that may not deliver immediate results. This long term view requires a focus on long term results rather than short term sales. This is a major change to the focus of many of today’s retailers.
Consumers are showing a willingness to blend the virtual and physical shopping and purchasing practices in a way that separates the two practices. This was viewed as showrooming by the physical brick and mortar retailer and discouraged. Consumers though have shown that they will not be deterred in their shopping and purchasing and will drive these changes into the retail market. This translates into a requirement for retailers to separate the shopping and purchasing practices in order to succeed in this future retail market.
Amazon has taken the lead in this new retail experience and is eliminating the consumer hesitation to purchase online through their Prime program. Amazon Prime allows the consumer to purchase virtually in the same manner that they purchase in the brick and mortar environment. There is no reason now for the consumer to bundle purchases and this capability allows consumers to shop and purchase in a more natural manner. Combine this capability with the existing customer relationship that Amazon has been developing and you have a very compelling opportunity for consumers to re-invent their practices.
Many retailers now are forced into a position of playing catch-up to just maintain their sales and business. This can be overcome with a long term focus on collaboration with the consumer that develops the type of relationship that will retain the consumer through the purchase.
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?