A few years ago the concept of mass customization burst into popularity to change the product development and manufacturing processes.  The concept of mass customization revolved around a marketing and manufacturing technique that combines the flexibility and personalization of "custom-made" with the low unit costs associated with mass production.  This concept has lost its shine over the years to the point where you don’t really hear much about it.  I think that this mass customization concept fits into the omni channel shopping and purchasing concept through the rapid development of new capabilities and the consumer embrace of mobile technology.  The mass customization strategy is a great way to view the methods required for retailers to support consumer demands in shopping and purchasing in order succeed.

 

Mass customization first and foremost requires a platform that supports rapid and iterative modifications.  This is exactly the collaborative shopping site and consumer shopping home page concept that I have been discussing recently.  These concepts, there should be one that is tuned to mobile technology and one tuned to standard web technology, will provide the basis for the customization through the use of standard page formatting selection options allowing the consumer to focus on the topics and products that interest them the most.  This should be architected something like the Google Now offering where the consumer can select options for viewing and notification that interest them.  The home page should also provide links to suggested YouTube videos and Pinterest links that would be of interest.  My advice is do not get fancy, simply provide the framework for the site.

 

Next you will need a staff to moderate the site and ensure it is engaging and safe for your consumer members.  The staff currently supporting social networks such as Facebook and Twitter should be able to support the site moderation and maintenance with perhaps some minor additions to support the additional activities of updating the site with new material and links to new stories, partner sites and updated content.  This is no small feat and requires continuous monitoring and updates, especially over the weekends and evenings to promote interest and returns to the site.  The other side of moderation is maintaining the ‘friendliness’ of the site by removing any material and participants that are offensive.  These are really the areas where the customization will come into play through promoting products, promoting surveys and response to consumer questions and promoting related social network sites that are related. 

 

The collaborative shopping site provides a platform for customization that supports your partners and most importantly encourages consumers to participate in developing a community.  This community will provide the basis for continued sales and sales growth and a reason for other retailers to join the community in a partnership to extend the consumer shopping opportunities and sales. One of the reasons that shopping malls were so successful previously is that they provided a place for consumers to meet and gather in a social setting to purchase goods and services.  The collaborative shopping site provides a means to support the virtual social shopping capabilities any time and any place to support the consumer’s diminishing time availability.

 

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?