Retailers are missing out on a great deal of strategic benefits if they do no take advantage of the strategic message delivery capabilities of the consumer community and eCommerce channel combination. This is especially true of large retail chains with stores spread across the region or country. I think that one of the most difficult aspects of retail is ensuring that the desired message is received, and then understood, by their customers. This is especially important now with so many consumer distractions and competition from other retailers. The consumer community provides the outlet to engage the consumer and draw the consumer into the eCommerce channel or even the store. It is important for the retailer to view all channels as one shopping experience that delivers a consistent message.
The consumer community and eCommerce channel combination provides an opportunity to engage the consumer directly to delivery an effective, efficient and consistent view and message to all consumers that visit. This is a very powerful tool that provides a great deal of benefit with a low cost when compared to the cost of delivering a consistent view and message across a chain of stores. The consumer community provides a service to the consumer that has more and more been lost to store customers and that service is one-on-one interaction. Consumers desire interaction and engagement when shopping and the consumer community provides the tools for the consumer to engage both with other consumers and retailer representatives. Too many retailers have reduced staff and added additional responsibilities to store personnel and this has resulted in reduced interaction and engagement with the consumer in the store.
In addition to the challenges to staff engagement with consumers in the store the retailer must overcome the challenge of store personnel delivering a consistent message to the consumers. The store personnel are very often either distracted, don’t understand the message and the importance of the message and engagement with the consumer, or they are confused by seeming conflicts in priorities. While each store and each person is different the results of these distractions are the same, the delivery of the message is not consistent.
This is where the electronic channels can, and should, be utilized to strengthen the consistency of the message delivery. The electronic channels should be used to promote the message and engage the consumer in the message and this will then crossover into the stores channel. This changes the objective of the stores in the message strategy from an inconsistent delivery channel to a maintenance channel. This allows the stores to confirm and support the message rather than the primary delivery channel. This is the direction that as a requirement for the continued success of the chain retailers.
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?