The consumer community provides the direct linkage from the consumer to the retailer and the retail consumer chain.  This linkage supports and should encourage the collaboration between consumer and retailer which then is extended throughout the consumer chain in an effort to support the demands of the consumer.  This relationship is very important to the retailer especially not only because it provides the means to connect directly with the retailer but also because the communication and data collected is more meaningful and accurate compared to other means of consumer data collection.  This relationship provides the data resulting from the actual consumer activities and interactions rather than second hand data provided by surveys and focus groups.

 

This consumer community is the consumer portal into the retail direct-to-consumer channel providing both the consumer and the retailer the means and tools to collaborate in channel development and consumer chain improvements to meet the demands of the consumer.  This consumer community portal provides the communication means and it requires the support and maintenance from the retailer in order to encourage the consumer to return and participate in the community.  The consumer community first provides the place for consumers to congregate and share information such as product reviews and suggestions for usage and combinations.  This community however must first be nurtured and the consumer encouraged to return and participate before the value from the community will be achieved.

 

The consumer community is an outlet for the consumer to participate in the product development and offerings of the retailer and the retailer in turn must embrace this concept in order to maintain their viability in the market.  One distinct and very large advantage of the consumer community is the consolidation and extended communication provided across all of the consumer members of the community.  The benefit is the delivery of the message and capabilities of the retailer across the entire market, the retailer can both share and collect information from across the market from one place, the consumer community.  This sharing of a consistent message across the market is of great value to the retailer and the consumer alike.

 

The consumer does not really care about the supply chain that supports the products, the consumer only cares that the products they desire are available when they decide to purchase.  The consumer community provides a portal for the consumer to share their demands and suggestions with both the retailer and other consumers.  These demands and suggestions then can be collected and the data analyzed to provide the retailer with the valuable information from the consumer that will allow the retailer to improve the selection and delivery of the products. 

 

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?