There is an interesting and large difference in technology utilization between large retailers and small local retailers.  This difference is not just the type of technology but the social technology usage itself.  The large regional and national retailers must depend on social technology to develop a sense of community and relationships with the consumer.  On the other hand, the small local retailer uses social technology to provide an extension of the community already developed from the retail brick and mortar store.  This is an important difference and should be understood and accounted for by the large retailer because it requires a robust and flexible framework and the staff to maintain the community.

 

The small local retailer will have a web site along with a Facebook page and potentially Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and even Yelp and Foursquare accounts that they use to extend their message and promote sales and events in the store.  In my experience these are generally managed and maintained by the same person and that person can be an employee or it can be outsourced,depending on the store and the internal capabilities and interest.  These are all maintained separately and then the person maintaining logically relates them by updating a common message across the sites.  There is no automation involved and the customer interaction is limited to one of the social media sites.  When crossing over there is simply a link provided on the site, or even email broadcast messages.  This is all very manual and organic based a great deal on the customer interaction and the time the retailer spends on maintaining the sites and the messages.  This can be a very cyclical maintenance based on interest, availability and even season and sales peaks however because of the community and relationships the retailer develops with customers in the store it works for them.

 

The large retailer on the other hand requires a more directed approach to developing the collaboration community because they do not have the personal relationship from the brick and mortar store on which to build.  In fact, the message from the retailer is reversed, in other words, the retailer starts the message and the relationships from the collaboration community and pushes to the stores.  This is a huge difference and requires the focused coordination across the social networking sites to ensure the message is consistant and persistant across the sites.  This is where the community portal comes into play, it will bring together the links to related social networking sites sites in one easy to use portal that allows the consumer to participate in all aspects and more importantly the portal promotes all of the sites to project the message.  The large retailer cannot depend on organic growth of the community and the portal allows the retailer to promote the community and a consistent message across all platforms.

 

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?