Engagement at all levels must be the objective of all participants in the consumer chain to maintain and grow their success.  The consumer chain and therefore the partners in this consumer chain cannot survive without the full engagement across the chain of all partners in delivering and maintaining the mutual benefits across the chain.  The retailer is the hub of this consumer chain is the retailer and the greatest requirements to delivering and maintaining the success lie with the retailer.  One of the key objectives of the retailer is to encourage and maintain the engagement across the chain.  This retailer must continuously monitor and nourish the desire of all partners across the chain in order to ensure the continued engagement.


Maintaining a high level of engagement with the suppliers and distribution network in the consumer chain is a relatively straightforward activity that is based on agreements and monitoring the service levels and performance indicators measuring these agreements.  These agreements are the glue that holds the commercial internal and external partners together in this chain.  These agreements clearly define the expectations and interactions of these commercial partners.  These agreements also clearly define the methods and procedures that will monitor and deliver continuous improvement.  In this environment there are clear objectives and goals that can be monitored and maintained and when the objectives and goals are met, there are also clear results and benefits achieved.  This is actually the easy part because these commercial internal and external partners are driven by the real returns that will be achieved through participation.


The consumer partners in this chain though are more fickle because their engagement is based on interest and not contractual agreements, service levels and performance indicators.  Consumers on the one hand are driving the metrics that are measured in the commercial service levels and performance indicators.  However, on the other hand there is no obligation for these consumers to engage in any one consumer chain.  For this reason, it is the retailer’s responsibility to understand and create and maintain the consumer engagement that will produce the benefits to the commercial partners in the consumer chain.  This is a very difficult task because the consumer can be a fickle partner that requires constant encouragement and reasons to engage. 


The challenge then for the retailer in the consumer chain is two-fold.  The retailer must maintain and continuously improve the products and services offered to the end consumer while also maintaining and encouraging the interest of the consumer.  Both of these efforts obviously have a symbiotic relationship; you cannot have one without the other.  However the consumer engagement must be maintained utilizing different methods and tools than the commercial partner engagement; consumers will engage based on interests while commercial partners will engage based on financial opportunities.


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?