When the collaborative consumer community is ‘self sustaining’ by the participation of the consumer and interaction with the retailer the community will produce a vast amount of data. This data will be invaluable to the retailer for developing marketing plans and especially for product development and sales forecasting. This data will provide a wealth of information from both direct consumer response and especially by tracking movement through the site. The challenge for the retailer will be the analysis of this data utilizing big data technology and techniques. This data will feed a great deal of analysis scenarios to help the retailer to plan and execute product and marketing strategies and reduce the trial and error guesswork.
This consumer community will provide a great deal of information as a result of the consumer activity and travels through the community. This information includes the path the consumer takes through the community by tracking the clicks on the page and when, and how, they leave the page. This type of information can be invaluable in developing and formatting a community that retains the consumer and directs the consumer deeper into the community site to participate. This hard data of the consumer path through the links and the pages on the site provides a level of confirmation and accuracy that can never be achieved through post purchase surveys. These actual travel paths and selection of links that are interesting to the consumer, along with the sequence in which they select and explore the links will help the retailer to increase the appeal and retention of consumers in the community.
In addition, the consumer community will provide the opportunity for the retailer to perform early testing of products and marketing in a supportive environment before investing large sums of money manufacturing products. Another opportunity for value from the community is encouraging ‘pins’ of different uses and combinations of products from the consumers. This provides two value streams;
- It provides suggestions to consumers for different uses for the product and different combinations of the product. The combination, or pairing, of products provides an additional strong sales and marketing opportunity for the retailer for add-on product sales. This is especially valuable when the suggestions are provided by other consumers.
- It encourages both retention and return of the consumer to the site to participate. This increases the ‘sticky’ factor of the site providing a greater potential for sales. The more time a consumer is on the site, the higher the likelihood of a purchase. In addition, this feature provides a great potential for word-of-mouth marketing to encourage additional consumers to investigate the site.
These provide a highly valuable potential for return from the consumer community that requires an investment in both time to develop the following and tools to analyze the vast amount of data produced by the consumer activities on the community. This provides the retailer an environment to experiment and validate actual results rather than focus groups or surveys. I believe the results provided by consumers exploring the community provides a greater level of accuracy than either focus groups or surveys can ever achieve and this is why I so strongly believe in 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?