Millennials are exerting a great influence on the retail shopping and purchasing practices that must be embraced and even expanded to ensure success.  Everywhere you turn now it seems there are surveys and stories regarding millennial influence on the work place.  There really has not been the same focus, or at least the same evaluation and visibility, on the retail market.  This must be changed so that the retailer can better understand and meet the consumer demands.  Millennials are exerting a great deal of influence on the workplace and the living places and it its only natural for them to be exerting this same level of influence on the retail market.  This is where the future of shopping will be redefined to cross the virtual and physical environments to support new shopping and consumer collaboration demands.

 

Each generation becomes more comfortable and involved in technology and these same practices must be incorporated into shopping and purchasing practices that blend the virtual and physical realities.  This does not mean that virtual changing rooms will become popular, I see the virtual changing room, quite frankly, as a prime example of wasted technology, a type of virtual shiny object that may look cool but the consumer doesn’t embrace because it doesn’t replace the physical side of trying on clothes.  What does work for consumers though is Facetime and photos messaging when trying on clothes to obtain opinions from your friends and family. 

 

Everywhere you look in your daily life you see people with their smartphone firmly in hand and an integral part of their daily lives and activities.  They are continuously sharing information and in communication with friends and family.  Then you look at the average large department retail store and the smartphone is not so visible.  The retailer must make mobile technology an integral part of their marketing, product offering and placement strategy, they must create a true omni channel presence that blends the virtual with the physical to support the shopping demands of the consumer.  This means that the retailer must offer ubiquituous wifi access without a hurdle of continuously signing in and ‘accepting’ terms and conditions; by all means there should be an initial registration to the retail consumer collaboration site however it is not necessary every time the consumer returns.  Simplify the process, push notices based on location and allow the consumer to use their smartphone in every situation.

 

I think that retailers should not get embroiled in a race to new technology in the eCommerce and virtual shopping practices.  I think that retailers should focus on embracing and incorporating existing technology into their offerings to enhance and blend the virtual and physical shopping experience.  To paraphrase another famous phrase - Shopping is the last frontier!  Retailers must embrace the change and incorporate a continuous change strategy in order to maintain their success with the consumers.  Consumers are moving forward with their uses of technology and continuously experimenting and this should be the strategy of retailers before they get left behind and become irrelevant.

 

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?