The consumer collaboration community brings a new level of opportunity for the retailer to develop a relationship with their customers and then use the relationship as input to drive marketing and product decisions.  This community provides the means and the opportunity for the retailer incorporate consumer driven initiatives back into the retail sales and supply chain.  I see no other initiative available to the retailer to provide the same level of values and develop a strong and long term relationship with the consumer.  The collaboration community must be customer focused in order to succeed and this customer focus must support in addition to incorporate the guidance based on the community values. 

 

The retailer support of the collaboration community values is paramount to the long term relationship with the consumers and the success of the retailer.  Large chain retailers really have no other method or opportunity for developing a relationship with their customers that crosses over geographic areas and provide the opportunity to measure results in a consistent manner across the chain.  Small neighborhood retailers can develop a direct personal relationship with their customers because of the consistency and interaction with the individual consumers.  Large chain retailers do not have the same opportunity within the store and need to incorporate a means for the direct interaction with the consumer.  This collaboration community provides the tools, the framework and the means to develop a virtual personal relationship with the consumer. 

 

The retailer cannot, however, force direction and obvious controls over this collaboration community.  Instead, the retailer must work to understand and embrace the consumer values and the consumer reasons for interacting with the community.  This can be difficult for the retailer because it requires they release control of the relationship to the consumer and this requires the retailer to understand the values and the reasons driving the consumer to interact and embrace the community.  The retailer must provide a community that is driven by consumers and the features and functionality driven by the consumer.  This can be a very difficult thing for retailers to embrace however it will provide a very valuable engine of information to drive and support the success of the retailer in marketing and product selection.

 

The retailer must be both supportive and patient in providing and supporting the collaboration community.  One of the key factors to the success of the community is understanding and embracing the community values.  The retailer must provide an open community that provides a vehicle for give and take between the consumer community and the retailer.  It provides a safe environment for retailer experimentation and for consumer interaction with other consumers and the retailer. 

 

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?