The large retailer must change the manner in which they interact with the consumer in order to succeed with the younger generation of millennials and younger.  This will allow the retailer to develop a relationship with the younger consumers in order to encourage them to return and purchase as the result of the relationship, rather than because they are offering a lower price for the product.  Younger shoppers are searching for value for their purchase and they are searching for the virtual relationship and a method to shop with their friends in the virtual environment.  The virtual relationship is the key to younger customer retention and also younger customer attraction to the retailer.  I see the younger consumers focused on the virtual relationship in all manner of interaction with each other and this virtual relationship requirement bleeds over into other areas including retail shopping and purchasing activities.

 

I think that sometimes the retailer becomes intimidated by the changes in the social networking framework and the fear of the costs required to support these changes.  I think though that these costs and the the velocity of discontinuous change can be managed through a focus on process and functional strategy rather than the technical tools..  Social networking changes can seem overwhelming when you are viewing from the peripheral where you simply see changes and it feels like the social networking tools are changing as soon as you understand and incorporate into your strategy.  I see this in a different manner, the younger generation is refining their tools and usage when a tool becomes available that meets their needs.  In other words, I believe and have come to understand that the younger generation does not change their social interaction underlying process, they are simply changing the tool they use to perform that process.  The underlying process remains the same and they are refining their capabilities and methods to perform that process.  This is why I believe that the retailer must focus on the process and functional strategy rather than the technical tools.

 

This all means that the retailer can focus on the social networking and virtual shopping functionality provided by the shopping home page to ensure the functionality meets the demands of all consumers and can simply introduce tools to help with the virtual shopping that help to refine or extend the functionality.  If the retailer follows the same strategy and the consumer and especially the younger generation consumers they can maintain and support the functionality through refinements of the tools.  This will still require a great deal of focus and research in the social networking tools however the refinement strategy provides a more consistent and cost effective approach for the retailer.  

 

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?