Consumers will return to a shopping site based on the tools that are offered to support the networking and the community atmosphere of a virtual mall.  The challenge in selecting and embracing the tools that interest and are in demand by the consumer is complicated by the changing demands of the consumer.  Technology is moving forward and changing the capabilities of networking on what seems to be a daily basis with new capabilities delivered every day to divert the consumer’s attention.  The challenge, it seems, for the omni channel retailer is to maintain awareness of the changes so the appropriate tools and practices can be incorporated into the virtual shopping home page.

 

Maintaining this awareness is a full time job that requires an open and inquisitive disposition in order to experiment with the tools and collaborate with consumers to determine how to integrate the usage in the shopping site.  This is something that must be actively monitored and maintained because of the changing demands of the consumers.  There are basically two groups of consumers that utilize social networking tools in very different ways and because of this the retailer’s requirement to maintain an awareness and incorporate these tools can be especially difficult.  The two groups of consumers consist of:

  1. Millennial consumers that are continuously experimenting with new technology and social networking tools.  This group is pretty exclusively focused on the new tools and technology and are quick to move on to new technology as it becomes available.
  2. Mainstream, or older consumers that are more ingrained in mainstream social networking tools and technologies.  This group is the vast majority of shoppers and the least fickle in both their social networking and their shopping habits.

 

These two groups are important to each other and especially important to the retailer because of the way that they work together.  The millennials are the early adopters and the experimenters that identify new trends in both technology and networking tools and then other consumers will adopt the new technologies as they expand into the mainstream and are accepted by the majority in their daily usage. Each new social networking tool has followed the same trajectory in usage where the millennials experiment and build practices to integrate the technology in their lives prior to the mainstream even realizing there is a new technology to use for networking.

 

In order to succeed retailers will need to accept and support both types of consumers and and a variety of social networking tools.  The difficult aspect for retailers will be the necessity, willingness to encourage and embrace social networking technologies that will fail.  There is no way for the retailer to predict success in any technology and for this reason they must accept the need to embrace new technology quickly and then accept the fact that much of the new technology must also be dropped just as quickly. 

 

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?