Consumers are utilizing social networking tools to change the way in which they shop and turning the retail marketplace into a true omni channel experience where shopping and purchasing can be performed on the consumer’s schedule.  The difference now is the social networking tools that consumers are incorporating into their practices.  This social aspect is changing and expanding the consumer’s interaction with the retailer in a manner that the retailer must support or they will lose the consumer purchase.  Retailers really must view commerce as two steps; shopping and purchasing in order to succeed in the future.  The consumer has already expanding their retail commerce interaction into the social networking tools realm to engage their friends in a virtual shopping method that utilizes the tools to allow consumer interaction during product selection.

 

On top of the requirement to support the social networking aspect of commerce and the omni channel retail market the retailer must also understand and support generational based social networking tools.  In other words, the social networking tools that work for one generation will not work for another generation.  For instance, Facebook messaging may work just fine for middle aged consumers and not work at all for millennials and younger consumers may use Periscope, or Snapchat for sharing images while older shoppers use messaging or Facetime.  Top this challenge off with the velocity of changing tools and tool utilization and your work in maintaining the social aspect of shopping can seem overwhelming. 

 

This changing landscape will not slow down though and cannot be overlooked or ignored by the retailer their full omni channel marketing, shopping and purchasing strategy.  Retailers must engage and must engage immediately in order to begin building the capabilities and also the consumer following for their omni channel strategy.  Building this strategy and these capabilities starts with building a staff that understands the social networking landscape and will use that understanding to experiment and grow the consumer shopping support.  This will require an investment and patience to nurture and develop the awareness and acceptance from the consumer.

 

This social shopping strategy will change the relationship between the retailer and the consumer and this will take some time and patience to build this new relationship.  The challenge for the retailer though is in building the social shopping environment that draws consumers by providing a place to share and network rather than simply a portal into the eCommerce purchasing site.  The large retailers have provided this environment in the brick and mortar arena through large shopping malls.  Now they must provide this arena through a social shopping home page that provides tools and capabilities beyond the email blasts to notify consumers of a sale.  This shopping home page will change the omni channel practices in the same way that eCommerce changed the retailer brick and mortar sales practices.

 

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?