I see that the future of omni channel retail will require retailers to provide a means for consumers to collaborate and virtually shop in addition to the classical purchasing capabilities. The goal of the collaborative shopping network is to encourage the consumer to return to the site and stay on the site longer and even invite their friends and family to join the collaborative shopping network. The objective is to provide a site where consumers can return and linger in their shopping and social interaction with other members. In order to increase the likelihood and encourage consumers to return many of the leading eCommerce retailers are bundling additional services, features and offers to support the strategy of increasing the likelihood of consumers to return to the site.
Perhaps the best example is the type of bundling that is offered by Amazon which provides home products, apparel, technology, school books, a place for individual to sell their own products. Then there is the most pervasive service offered by Amazon; Prime, which is used by Amazon to tie together additional services, including free shipping, video and music. These services, and many more that are offered by Amazon, provide a compelling reason to return for a vast array of consumers and consumer types. This strategy of offering all of the services that consumers may desire provides a compelling reason for consumers to return. Prime alone in the shopping space when coupled with the one-click purchase provides a compelling vehicle for impulse purchases and I think this ability when coupled with the Amazon browser plug-ins provides a distinct advantage and leaves other retailers continuously chasing these services.
I’m not saying that every retailer must offer video or music, what I am saying though is that retailers must expand their horizons and bundle services to encourage consumers to return. The consumer collaborative shopping site provides the retailer with a platform to expand and try new services, products and interaction with consumers. This collaborative platform provide a method for the retailer to interact directly with consumers and then potentially partner with other service providers and even other retailers to expand consumer offerings. The concept is to develop a virtual shopping mall with the retailer as an anchor with the site providing other services and collaborative opportunities for both consumers and partners.
Consumers and web based shopping search services are already providing a crude version of the shopping concept. Major retailers are also utilizing Twitter and consumer programs to encourage consumers to register for notifications of specials. The next wave will be the retailer that provides the portal to a bundled set of services along with an opportunity to share and collaborate with friends and other consumers. This is exactly what Amazon has been offering to consumers and been very successful.
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?