It is no longer enough for a retailer to provide a channel from which consumers can purchase products, the retailer must now provide an interactive channel that blends the social networking with the ability to purchase electronically or via the brick and mortar store. This inclusive shopping, social and purchasing environment must utilize mobile technology to blend the virtual electronic shopping with the physical shopping and support the purchase from any channel. These changes are being driven by the demands and expectations of millennials in reaction to the technology and social media capabilities that are being mashed together by these millennials to meet their lifestyle.
These changes are being driven by the millennials and must be supported by retailers in order to remain successful in the future. This will be difficult for most retailers because of what I think of as the culture of retailers; innovation followers that invest generally in the second wave of technology. Retailer have focused on the sales aspect and generally have baulked at consumer demands or changing consumer practices. As an example I think of the consumer practice of window shopping where the consumer goes to a brick and mortar store to examine the product and then purchases online. Retailers fought this practice from the beginning rather than embracing and providing consumers with a true multi channel environment for their shopping and purchasing practices.
There are a few retailers that are leaders, such as Amazon, or Alibaba, that are driving retailers and the retail industry in general to meet the demands of the consumer through expanded offerings and ease of purchasing. The purchasing capabilities of Amazon have changed the face of eCommerce and the types of products that are purchased electronically. These competitors have only scratched the surface of consumer shopping opportunities across channels. Retailers must take note of the consumer interest in the consumer add-on sites such as Retail-Me-Not for purchasing opportunities and social networking sites such as Pinterest and Instagram for shopping and networking capabilities that allow consumers to extend their shopping practices virtually.
Retailers must embrace the shopping concept and the tools that support this concept in order to take advantage of an early entry into the shopping space. This means that the retailer must incorporate access and much closer interaction with social networking sites to encourage the consumer to stay on the site when they visit. This requires the retailer to open their site to the interaction from external sites and also to incorporate some of the social networking capabilities such as encouraging sharing friends and contacts with the retailer to enhance the consumer experience. This concept is new and will be growing in demand with consumers and the smart retailer will embrace early to allow them to mold both the consumer interaction and the omni channel integration in a manner that benefits both consumers and the retailer.
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?