Mobile technology allows consumers to mash-up social networking with transactional eCommerce purchasing in a way that supports virtual shopping to dramatically change the retail omni channel practices. I believe this is the single most important movement to come to the retail market since the Internet and eCommerce came alive in the 1990’s. Similar to the explosion on the market of the Internet, the social networking capabilities that supports the consumer collaborative shopping practices will fundamentally change the way retailers interact with the consumer. In addition, and also similar to the explosion of the Internet, retailers will struggle to understand and incorporate this consumer collaborative shopping practices and demands into their omni channel capabilities.
The consumer collaborative shopping allows the eCommerce channel to support the social interaction that shopping in a mall allows to create an omni channel shopping experience which includes the transactional purchase. Up until now, eCommerce has provided a means to support simple product comparisons and transactional purchase transactions. This has been promoted through Facebook to support simple asynchronous communications with the consumer and to provide an electronic marketing outlet to consumers that have subscribed through the ‘Like’ function in Facebook. Since then though the consumer has expanded into many other services that provide sales notifications based on location and even product comparison across retail outlets. These commercial services have enhanced and improved the consumer purchasing choices over both the eCommerce channel and the brick and mortar channel.
In the meantime consumers have embraces mobile technology to enhance both their purchasing and social networking capabilities in a way that is not currently supported by most retailers. You see these changes from the eCommerce and product comparison side from the product evaluations that most retailers have begun to provide. In addition, you see these changes from the consumer use of social networking tools and platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram to share product usage and interesting new ways to use the products. Then combine with these social networking platforms other social networking tools such as Facetime and video messaging, especially real time such as is available from YouTube and you see the beginnings of a revolution in retail.
This revolution will be the mash-up of all of these tools and the continuous trial and error with other new and existing tools to enhance the retail market and create the omni channel shopping experience. Millennials started this push as a result of their comfort with the virtual world and technology and then each following generation has and will continue to push the envelop of blending the virtual with the physical. Retailers must embrace these new demands and provide the capabilities in their omni channel arsenal in order to survive and succeed in the future. This will require investment in labor more importantly than hardware to meet these demands though and this is also different than the earlier introduction of the Internet to the retail market.
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?