The retailer must be vigilant to consistently nurture the relationships that support the consumer collaboration community. These relationships are important to supporting and maintaining the values of the community and the continued success of the community and also the retailer. The retailer is the steward of the relationships as the consumer representative and as such must maintain the values of the relationships. This is in the best interest of both the retailer and the consumer collaboration community to ensure a safe and secure environment for both the consumer and the retailer to collaborate. This safe and secure community will draw the consumer to participate and share with both the retailer and more importantly with the other consumers in the community.
As the steward of the community it is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure the stability and security of this collaboration community. While the objectives of the community is to encourage the consumer to lead the participation and provide the communication and interactions and reactions that will encourage the participation, it is important for the community to be built upon a secured framework. The security and maintenance of the collaboration community is the long term responsibility of the retailer to ensure there is a virtual community for consumers to gather and collaborate. The consumer must be assured that the community is safe from hacking and identify theft before they will participate in the community and interact with the retailer and other consumers. This is a very important responsibility and require continuous monitoring to ensure the security of the consumer information.
In the startup of the community the retailer will also be responsible for encouraging consumers to participate and engage in the community. This will initially require a great deal of effort over at least a six month period or more to provide the new content and reasons for the consumer to return and engage in the community. This is challenging because the timeframe to grow the community can only be planned in general terms; such as allowing for six months to a year of focused support and monitoring of the community to build the following. This may take more or less time depending on the product mix and the imagination of the retailer support staff to engage the consumer. This is where imagination and experimentation play a large role. The retailer should utilize any tool or social networking community to engage the consumer and encourage their return.
The important factor in building the community is encouraging the consumer participation. In most current retailer sites and channels, the retailer pushes content and information to the consumer. While the has provided results in the past, the future requires the retailer to engage the consumer and encourage the consumer to participate in the community. This community participation is the ingredient that will set the retailer apart from their competition.
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?