The consumer collaboration community is the first step in creating a consumer chain that will link the retail supply chain from the manufacturer to the end consumer through a collaborative technology network.  The consumer chain will provide value to each member partner from one end of the chain to another by linking the the partners to support the objectives of everyone.  This consumer chain extends the linkage out to the consumer to engage and retain their participation in the community and provides the critical data from both shopping and purchasing activities along with the feedback loop from their participation in the retailer’s collaboration community.  This data is invaluable to the remainder of the chain for developing products and marketing these products to the customer base.


This consumer chain is made up as a hub and spoke architecture from major partners rather than links attached to one another.  This hub and spoke architecture functions with the retailer at the hub and the consumer, manufacturers, carriers and the raw materials as the key spokes of the hub.  From my perspective this hub and spoke architecture better describes the actual relationships and process of the activities.  The retailer at the hub provides the means and the connection to all of the partners in the consumer chain in a manner that provides the greatest value to the partners. 


The retailer at the hub provides an architecture where the retailer maintains and supports the communication framework along with the big data repository and tools to analyze the data to share with the other member partners.  The retailer at the hub provides the methods to direct and forward communications as necessary to other partner members in the relationship while providing additional value to those communications by relating and adding relating or value added information from the big data store of information to enhance and clarify the communications and the value of the communications.  This is where the collection and analysis of big data will return great value back to the consumer chain. 


The challenge for the retailer though is to accept the challenge and invest in the big data repository, tools and effort investment necessary to realize the value.  I believe this has been the stumbling block all along and has cause the supply chain to create islands of information that are protected by the partners collecting and maintaining this information.  The issue in the past has been that there was no one putting the information together in a hub.  My suggested hub and spoke framework provides a means for the retailer to maintain and coordinate the information from all channels and partners in a manner that will allow them to combine information from all hubs in a manner that produces the greatest value.  This is the control tower concept of managing and coordinating activities in the consumer 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?