Reaching a critical mass of both consumers and content on the retailer consumer collaborative shopping site requires focus, patience and most important, stamina. Consumers will not just participate at the site without some incentive and they will certainly not return and invite friends to participate without incentive or more importantly, a perceived value resulting from the site and participation at the site. By the same token, the retailer must also receive some value from the site in the form of increased sales and consumer driven marketing and product development. The combination of the demands from both the consumer side and the retail leadership side can become overwhelming without application of focus, patience and stamina to maintain the allure of the collaborative site.
Of the all the required traits to the success of the collaborative site I think the most important is stamina. Building and growing the site into a successful tool for the retailer and social starting point for the consumer requires a long term focus on the the activities necessary to encourage and maintain consumer return and participation and this requires a great deal of stamina to maintain the focus. The retailer must patiently maintain a continuous stream of content and enticements for the consumers to return to the site while the following is grown. This requires a great deal of work, there were no social site that became an instant success from the moment they started, each one required a great deal of patience and work to develop the following until the member’s participation reached a critical mass.
The retailer's collaborative site is probably even more fragile and difficult to develop than other social websites because it is a new concept. It will require even more patience, focus and stamina because in order to build the following and participation, developing a new concept in social collaboration requires the focus and stamina to work through the ups and downs that will be encountered. This patience and stamina is especially important on the part of the retail leadership because it will require an investment stream for potentially a long time before the benefits and value stream become self generating.
This collaborative shopping site is at odds with the standard business investment cycle that generally demands a return on investment within the first year. This investment must be viewed from a longer time horizon to realize the return, it must be viewed as a new business channel that supports the sales. This is important though to get started because of this long cycle time before the benefits. This will become a game changing factor in the omni channel practices and it will also become a foundational cost of success. The first retailers to the party will have the greatest struggles and investment to building this site and they will also have the greatest return and influence on the practice.
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?