The collaboration community is bringing about a new method for shopping that will change the retailer requirements to support the consumer demands. Collaboration community shopping is the social interaction between one-to-many friends to learn about products, obtain feedback from these friends and obtain suggestions where to purchase products. In other words, it is the social side of shopping that is generated by the interaction and encouragement of other community members. This is the type of shopping that brings the social aspect that has been missing from eCommerce and omni channel purchasing into the equation and this is what will also encourage the consumers to return to the community over and over again.
There are definitely some types of products that would not benefit as much from the community shopping practice, such as home supplies and hardware and home improvements. Although even these products and the market in general are becoming more fashion minded and influenced by the reactions and suggestions of friends and family. The areas though that will initially benefit the most from this community shopping practices are apparel, specialty stores and electronics, basically any type of store that does well in a mall will benefit greatly from this virtual community shopping. These are product types and markets that are encouraged by feedback and suggestions by friends and family.
The collaboration community provides a venue that extends the FourSquare social networking concept to the next level. This social interaction is important in creating the total social shopping experience that most consumers just do not have the time or the energy in many cases to encourage. Most consumers do not have the time to coordinate and then participate in a day of shopping due to the demands of their family and jobs. This provides a community that can participate and provide feedback in a manner that is asynchronous in nature and not require the ‘in the moment’ reactions to products and questions.
However, there is also a spontaneous nature to this type of community shopping that allows friends and family to participate in shopping in the spur of the moment. The community shopping must provide tools and capabilities to allow the consumer to build their own contact lists and then provide the tools to support immediate sharing and communications across your contact list to support your interaction with contacts during your shopping. I know that almost everyone has at one point or another reached out through Facebook or instant messaging to friends and family while shopping to ask for their opinions. I know that when I shop it is not unusual for me to call, text and send photos of products to my wife for opinions and suggestions. I think there is a huge untapped opportunity for retailers to generate interest and retain consumers on their sites by offering the means to virtually shop with their friends and family.
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?