Based on the demands of the consumer and the other external partners of the retail consumer chain there are also robust and continuous demands for internal resources to support, address challenges and grow the consumer chain.  These internal resource requirements will focus mainly on the care and feeding of the consumer community that is an integral part, and requirement, of the consumer chain. The consumer community, like any other social media community, requires a great deal of near real time human reaction to interactions with the community and in addition a great deal of time is required for content management for the community.  Then you must add on the hardware and infrastructure costs to develop an overall cost to support the consumer chain. 

 

These support support needs require a commitment from senior leadership for the budget to support these demands for an extended period of time.  It must also be communicated and understood that this investment may not realize benefits for an extended period of time.  This is a bit like business social media 2.0 and requires a similar type of investment and commitment to achieve ‘escape velocity’ where the the community truly produces value over the investment.  Just as in the integration and acceptance of Facebook the business was required to make a significant investment before realizing benefits, the consumer chain and the supporting consumer community will require a significant investment in resource labor before realizing benefits.  The good news though is that the retailer should have a foundation of labor and practices already focused on social media and this will be an additive to that pool rather than building an entire support staff again.

 

The consumer chain brings another aspect to the social media and networking that requires an extension of the current labor and practices.  Granted there are additional practices and tools that will need to be added to the mix, however, the conceptual foundation of labor and practices should be in place.  The support for the consumer chain and more specifically for the consumer community that extends the eCommerce site and the existing social media practices will require additional labor, practices and tools that will extend the existing retail labor and practices. 

 

Another key support requirement is the capture and analysis of the data that can be produced from the consumer community.  This again is in addition to the existing data captured from the eCommerce site so the data captured for analysis must be reviewed and identified.  Considering that the most probably scenario for the consumer community utilization is an initial ramp up period that will quicken as more consumers participate, the storage needs will be incremental and allow for incremental increases to support the additional demands.  This is also where I would recommend experimenting with cloud storage for these needs if you have not already done so. 

 

The support requirements will grow and change as the consumer chain grows and changes.  The important factor to guide you in these efforts is to focus on extendability and flexibility.  These will help you to meet the changing needs as they arise without wholesale replacement.

 

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?