In order to reap the potential values from the collaboration community the retailer must engage the consumer and encourage them to return and participate in the community.  This can be a very difficult because it is not a one-and-done type of activity, it is a process and a program that is continuously focused on engaging the consumer and providing new reasons for the consumer to return.  This requires a dynamic site and dynamic activities, discussions and offers that give the consumer a reason to return.  This requires a long term view of the challenge and a continued investment of time and people from the retailer to encourage that the community especially in the start-up phase maintains dynamic and changing offerings to encourage the consumer to return.

 

The collaboration community will eventually reach a point where it is relatively self maintaining and this is where the value will really be delivered.  This does not mean though that you can simply provide a site with a set of current activities and tools and expect the consumer to engage and grow the community.  The start-up phase of the community requires a focused and continuous effort from the retailer to maintain the community and the activities and offers that encourage the consumer to return on a regular basis.  This is really very difficult and requires a long term investment to prime the pump of the community.  The start-up of the community is especially fragile and requires a large investment from the retailer to maintain the fresh aspect of the community.

 

There comes a time when the community achieves ‘escape velocity’ where the consumers are driving content based on their own interests by engaging community tools.  This is the point in the life cycle where the retailer can turn to a maintenance strategy, where the investment in time and people can be reduced because the community is now driving content and engaging the return of consumers.  This does not mean, however, that the retailer can walk away from their support and maintenance activities.  In this phase of the community lifecycle it is important for the retailer to monitor and maintain the community to ensure that the content remains fresh.  It is also important that the retailer continue to provide incentives for the consumer to save and continue to shop and purchase.

 

The consumer interest and participation in the community will go through cycles and it is important that the retailer shore up the content and activities when consumer interaction drops.  The content must remain fresh in order to maintain the existing consumer participation and also draw new consumer interest and participation in the community.  The community is the entry portal into the retailer’s shopping and purchasing site and it is important to maintain a continuously fresh and interesting community to encourage the consumer to return again and again.

 

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?