I recently received an email discussing the impact of multiple generations in the workplace and I thought that is also a great correlation in the retail marketplace.  Retailers, and especially large retailers, must also take into account multiple generations shopping and purchasing across channels.  This requires the retailer to communicate and collaborate across generations in the manner in which the end customer demands and so the Millennials and Generation Z consumers are demanding collaboration and social interaction in channels in which Baby Boomers are not even aware.  This presents a huge challenge for the retailer to incorporate the communications and the take advantage of the social networking tools and capabilities.

 

This requires the retailer to support a wide variety of tools and messages based on the methods that are embraced by consumers which is a great challenge for the retailer that in general is not comfortable with the leading edge of technology.  This requires a staff made up of multiple generations and requires encouragement of participation from the multiple generations in order to communicate to the multiple generations of consumers.  This challenge must be met with a focus on the process along with the messages that focus on the generation because the social networking tools will change in a manner and velocity that is not normally supportable by the large retailer.

 

The velocity of change driven by the social networking tools and the generational use of these tools is incredible and the velocity of change is only speeding up.  This requires a flexibility in the technical foundation to support the continuous addition and removal of tools.  This process though is not a one for one action, in other words, you won’t swap out a tool when a new tool is added.  On the contrary, the new tool from last month may become mainstream, in which case it must be maintained and the message expanded to reach out to additional generations.  By the same token, there will be quite a few tools that will flash in popularity and then be replaced by a new tool. 

 

The objective of this process is to build a pipeline of customers for the retailer by specializing the message and the delivery method to the generation.  I think that many large retailers have struggled with the pipeline of new and younger customers because they have been reaching out to younger consumers using the same tools and message that they use for older existing customers.  This just doesn’t work and a big part of the reason it doesn’t work is the delivery mechanism used by the retailer.  As an example the large retailer is focused on their Facebook page for message delivery and the younger generation, under 23 for instance, retally does not use Facebook any more.  The retailer must deliver the message and communicate with the younger generation using the same tools used by the younger generation.

 

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?