The consumer chain concept and more importantly the robust spoke and hub framework provides many opportunities for the entire chain to benefit. Most importantly, though, it provides the retailer at the hub a vast amount of data along with the connectivity to utilize that data to strengthen collaborative relationships, analyze shopping patterns and product selections, enhance retention of customers and provides a means to support the discontinuous change that is increasingly the norm of the retail business environment.  Obviously though, this will require investment in labor, time and technology to fully realize the opportunities and the curiosity to explore the opportunities that develop over time.   

 

The hub of this framework is the critical factor in the future success of the consumer chain and requires a thoughtful analysis and definition to start with a basis that is both flexible to allow for growth and change and then it must be robust enough to support the stress and storage of activities from many different directions with the data repository that supports big data techniques and technology.  This can seem like an overwhelming task at first look.  You must take on this task though with the understanding and the plan that the hub will change and grow as the business requirements solidify, then change and then grow continuously as the consumer chain changes and grows.  The important requirement of the hub is that it should be built on a platform that can easily grow and change with the demands of the consumer chain.  This is why I would lean towards cloud technologies to support the hub platform.

 

As your eCommerce channel grows, your opportunities and demands of the consumer chain will grow in both volume and importance.  These demands can only be supported through a robust and flexible platform to support the great amounts of data that can be collected.  These demands will increase in a continuous manner as the growth and demand grows in a continuous manner.  Cloud tools and technology will provide the methods and capabilities to support these ever growing demands in a manner that does not demand a large investment in either technology, or the labor to support the technology.  These software as a service and platform as a service capabilities are beginning to increase in capabilities and acceptance.  These capabilities and acceptance will only increase as more organizations realize the value of subscription services to support the spurts in growth on an almost immediate basis.

 

You must focus on the capabilities and services that make your offerings special, this requires focus on the consumer chain relationships and services.  Cloud tools and technology allow you to focus on the differentiating services by providing a platform as a service.  In order to maintain your success you should make the shift to focus on the services that differentiate your offerings and subscribe to the foundational services based on volume and usage.  This method allows you to take advantage of the latest tools and platforms without heavy investment, allowing you to focus investment on the success of your business.

 

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?