Retailers must work very hard to identify, understand and incorporate new social networking tools at a pace that for many of the large retailers is unprecedented and very uncomfortable for them.  Very few retailers could be considered leaders in technology and this is exactly what is necessary for retailers to remain successful in the future.  The retailers must embrace and incorporate new social networking technologies with the understanding that many of these investments will be dropped from their portfolios in a short period of time.  The retailer must embrace this strategy though no matter how uncomfortable in order to be able to prosper in the future and maintain their customer base.

 

This strategy is directly at odds with most retailers’ historic direction and strategy which is to be, at most a leader at technology and let others be at the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology.  Now, however, in order for retailers to survive it is not enough to have a presence on Facebook or Twitter, or Pinterest, or Instagram.  Now retailers must push their usage of social networking tools into embracing the new tools in their social network strategy as the tools are introduced and only beginning to spread in acceptance.  If the retailer waits until the tools become ‘mainstream’ as they normally would the retailer will be missing out on engaging the millennial consumers as they are leading the experimentation with the new social networking tools.

 

This change in strategy is critical to the success of the retailer as it will help them to engage the important millennial consumer in the manner demanded by that consumer.  This new strategy will be very unsettling for the retailer for quite some time until they become accustomed to the level and velocity of change demanded.  For all intents and purposes, as soon as the baby boomer accepts and begins to utilize a new social networking tool you can count on the millennial having already moved on to a new trend.  In order to compensate for the change in tools, the retailer must focus on the networking and social collaboration process.  It is the process that will be required to support the utilization and incorporation of new tools into the shopping home page.  It is also the process that will allow the retailer to maintain momentum and the social networking strategy and not require wholesale foundational change with each new tool. 

 

I have no idea where these trends and new social networking tools will take us and the retailer cannot afford to wait until the trend goes mainstream due to the potential loss of customers.  The retailer must focus on the process that allows incorporation of new tools to support the process.  The process in this case of course is the collaboration with the consumer that is the basis of the social networking.

 

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?