Currently, and for the most part, consumers are drawn to a retailer’s eCommerce site by pricing, or search for a specific product.  When I am purchasing, I use the Internet to research products or to find a better price.  These are learned behaviors for me because of past experience with eCommerce sites and retailers offerings in general.  There is a difference between men shopping and women shopping and millennials shopping and even teens shopping.  We’ve all seen and experienced the different behaviors when shopping in a mall you can find the best representation of the difference shopping behaviors, men hang around and wait for their families, teens hang around as a gathering center, women are moving from store to store actively discussing topics including their purchases and you don’t really see too many millenials.

 

Based on these behaviors you can see that eCommerce and omni-channel outlets have been developed to meet the needs of men’s purchasing habits; research products and best price options.  This leaves out key shopping groups and provides no reason for the consumer to return, other than price or convenience.  With the reduction in time available to shop during normal store hours omni-channel outlets and eCommerce are becoming more and more important to the success of retailers.  The challenge though for retailers is to provide the environment that allows all consumers to engage in the manner that suits them best.  There are consumers and product groups that are not encouraged and don’t require social interaction interaction; product such as a ladder for instance only requires size, price and delivery options, however, women’s fashion requires comparison and feedback from friends rather than price as key purchasing factors.

 

The large retail department stores, books, music, fashion (including home furnishings) must begin to provide social community features to encourage consumers to shop in the same manner that they shop in a mall.  There is no other single factor that will support the success of these retailers in the future as the consumer’s free time during the current available store hours is taken by spending time on family and school activities.  The ideal time-slot available to shop for personal items is shifting to off hours from a brick and mortar store perspective.  The same shift is occurring in the major motion picture segment, with the increase in large screen TV’s and the improvement in resolution and sound available in the home equipment the attendance in movie theaters is also dropping.

 

Let’s face it, I would rather spend my free time during the normal retail store business hours on activities that allow interaction with family and friends rather than going to a mall or a retail store.  It is obvious that I am not the only consumer with this desire and with the reduction in available free time during normal retail store hours this will have an impact on the sales.  This can be addressed though through the development of a robust retail social community to allow virtual shopping in a manner that encourages interaction with friends while shopping.

 

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?