Retailers must develop a method to promote products and concepts without depending on a low price strategy and the collaborative shopping home page can provide this type of support through social networking tools and engaging with the consumer.  One of the keys to success in the collaborative shopping home page strategy is engaging the consumer and then, one of the keys to engaging the consumer is actively courting and encouraging their response and feedback on products.  This product engagement should surround the consumer attraction to the product and then just as importantly the consumer use of the product and suggestions for pairing with other products.  This is where the social network tools come to the forefront of the activities and provide the consumer with the means to provide feedback.

 

Consumer feedback changes with the shopping home page from responses to specific questions to a more indirect feedback model of reactions to products and also responses from other consumers.  I see the Pinterest model as particularly important in this strategy of obtaining consumer product feedback.  The Pinterest model provides a framework for consumers to share suggestions and reactions to products to an audience of consumers and then provides the ability to link and share boards based on interest.  This model will quickly extend the audience outside of what may have been the retailer's customer base and will also engage reaction and response to the boards to increase product interest and eventually sales.  A link to this tool can easily be added to the retailer’s shopping home page and the reaction measured based on boards created and recommended and also by sales.

 

I have seen this model work well in an organic manner for Ikea as a consumer based model.  Ikea provides a perfect product and business model for this type of strategy.  If you search Pinterest for Ikea you will find a great number of boards related to both products as they can be used in decorating and also ‘hacks’ that suggest new ways to both use and combine products into new pieces.  For instance I have seen boards that provide clear instructions and product numbers to use in building make-up stands using shelves and table legs that are sold separately to put together into a unique and very good looking new product. 

 

The point is to encourage the consumer participation and retention through the incorporation of social network tools.  This strategy increases the stickiness and retention of the site and will provide a great deal of indirect information that the retailer can then use to support the marketing, placement and development of new products.  This model of engaging the consumer in the support of products provides the framework for long term future success of the retailer.  The stumbling block as I see it though is the patience to support the strategy while the interest builds and the creativity to use tools in new manners to encourage and support engagement.  Get rid of the boring surveys that really don’t provide value and incorporate direct consumer interaction to gain feedback!

 

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?