Consumer demands on retail and especially omni channel shopping are growing dramatically to support the changes to the consumer lifestyle.  These changes are also being driven by consumer free time, or more appropriately lack of free time, and the demands of younger generations such as millennials.  The younger generations and especially millennials are coming of age and purchasing power and they are driving changes in the retail environment driven by both technology, such as mobile and smartphone technologies, and social networking.  I see social networking technologies and demands from consumers as driving game changing capability demands from the consumer.

 

Consumers are taking control of their virtual environments now and they are demanding change from retailers to meet these demands.  Consumers are now demanding interaction and cohesive blends of the virtual and physical shopping environment and these demands are only going to grow as time passes.  With the combination of large eCommerce retailers such as Amazon and the virtual networking capabilities and practices of retailers and the limitations on consumer time for shopping the  consumer is demanding increased omni channel capabilities.  The comfort level of consumers with virtual networking and omni channel retail is changing the way consumers both shop and purchase.  Retailers must recognize and adjust their omni channel practices to meet these changing demands.

 

Years ago the increase in beginning days of Facebook popularity and the consumer embrace of the social networking practices retailers were forced to scramble to build new teams to incorporate Facebook into their marketing and sales programs.  This caused a great deal of additional labor to manually support this capability especially the level of labor expended to maintain the freshness and respond directly to consumer questions and responses.  This social window provided a means for new consumer interaction with the retailer and the retailers that attained success in their Facebook interaction invested a great deal in the maintenance and support of that portal with the consumer.

 

Now, while the number of social networking sites has dramatically expanded and the technology used by consumers to interact with these sites has also dramatically improved, I don’t really see that many retailers taking advantage of these new tools.  Consumers themselves are building their own collaborative communities by creating a quilt work of social networks and eCommerce location based search engines to build their own collaborative shopping networks.  There is a vast amount of valuable consumer information that is lost to the retailer though because the common retailer has not provided a portal and the integration of the tools to support this consumer collaborative shopping networks.  The retailers that develop and support the consumer collaborative shopping network will change the omni channel market to generate the greatest level of success in the future.  In fact this will shortly become a requirement for omni channel business similar to the Facebook revolution.  

 

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?