It is important to separate shopping and purchasing activities in order to effectively support the consumer’s demands in a manner that ensures the consumer returns frequently.  Shopping is a social experience and consumers are searching for the abiliity to shop with their friends and relatives socially, whether physically in a retail store or mall, or virtually.  Consumers have less and less time for shopping and the time they do have aligns less and less with brick and mortar store hours.  This does not mean that consumers do not want to shop, it means that consumers are not available to shop in the time periods that retailers are providing in malls and stores.

 

Retailers have mistakenly focused only on the purchase aspect of shopping and have essentially ignored the social aspect of shopping altogether.  Shopping must be viewed as a consumer team sport where the consumer is searching for a way to socialize with friends and family to make shopping decisions.  I see the next wave of eCommerce to combine social networking with shopping in a manner that encourages consumers to gather virtually to shop and purchase.  This will provide a meeting place for consumers and also a notification method for consumers to reach out to their friends and family to provide opinions and suggestions for shopping. 

 

All of the pieces are already available that will support this new wave; instant messaging, Facetime type conversation apps, location based notifications, Pinterest for sharing interests and also for a type of event registration and then there is Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other social networks that provide the means to instantly engage with friends and family, even providing notification when friends and family are available.  The beauty of these tools is that they can easily be combined together into ‘instant’ social events at any time to support and instant shopping spree at any time of the day. 

 

Unfortunately retailers have not taken to these potential opportunities yet because they have been so focused on the purchasing aspect of the equation.  This leaves 80% of the consumer experience unsupported by the retailer leaving the consumer to explore and build these options on their own.  Make no mistake, consumers and especially young consumers are building these capabilities on their own through their own social networking combinations of tools.  This reticence and lack on the retailer’s part to develop these capabilities though reduces the consumer’s encouragement to return or stay on the retailer’s eCommerce site.  The retailer provide no reason for the consumer to remain and explore their sites because they provide no opportunity for the consumer to socialize on their sites.  This causes the consumer to jump from site to site, reducing the reasons for the consumer to purchase.

 

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?