The consumer chain should, and will, become a key business driver in the long term success of the retailer.  While this may not currently be the case, many retailers are just beginning to experiment with the consumer chain that includes engaging the consumers in the retailer’s community.  The beginnings of these types of engagement will quickly lead to the retailer realization of the value of the community.  This realization will then encourage the retailer to expand their engagement in the community to experiment with the types of consumer engagement that can drive new product, sales and marketing opportunities.  These types of experimentation and expanded engagement with the consumer will quickly become a major business driver in the success of the retailer.


This consumer engagement and participation does not just happen, it requires support and nurturing which requires a significant investment of time and effort from the retailer.  This investment must be realized and supported by the retailer leadership before any return and the retailer must realize that the return my take quite a bit of time and experimentation before any return will be realized.  The retailer must focus on building the community and showing the consumer the value of participation before the retailer will gain any benefits.  This is in fact a common theme in all social networking interaction with the consumer such and Facebook or Twitter. 


I think that we will see a quickening of acceptance and participation by the consumer in the consumer chain.  This is only natural with the expanding acceptance and growth of the social tools and services utilized by consumers.  As an example of the type of growth and interaction you can expect from consumers I look at the acceptance and growth of Pinterest.  If you have ever explored Pinterest you can see the creativity of people and also the explosion of growth and engagement of the consumer in posting and following others.  Just a quick look around Pinterest and you find pins for everything from fashion, to cleaning, to home furnishings to vacations; people have embraced this social network for the opportunity to engage and share ideas at an astonishing rate. 


The example of Pinterest provides a direct example of the commitment and types of engagement that can be expected from consumers with just a little encouragement.  This commitment does not just happen though, it requires the early and long term commitment from the retailer to nurture and grow this community interaction.  This interaction though is exactly what is required by the retailer in order to grow and succeed in the future.  Consumers are demanding and searching for this type of engagement and the sooner a retailer provides the community for participation, the sooner the retailer will reap the benefits of the 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?