We have entered into a time where the retail marketplace and relationships with the consumer are being reinvented as a result of consumer demands.  The difference between this time of reinvention and others is that the entire marketplace is being reinvented based on the consumer embrace of mobile technology and social technology capabilities.  This is a marketplace reinvention rather than an individual or a number of retailer reinvention initiative.  While the individual retailers are performing their own individual evaluation and reinvention activities based on their own strategy, make no mistake, these individual reinvention activities for each major retailer are being performed as a result of foundational changes to the retail marketplace that are driven by consumer changes in how, when and why they interact with the retailer.

 

This retail reinvention is different because it is based on foundational methods of interaction with the consumer and is being driven by technology that has  been embraced by the consumer.  The consumer has reached a point in technology acceptance and capabilities that allows them to in effect build their own marketplace.  This has been building for a while and now the combination of technology and consumer acceptance has tipped the scale to marketplace change that must be accepted and embraced by the retailer in order to survive.  The tipping point was driven by the combination of the smartphone, mobile apps and improvements in wireless data technologies.  This is the same type of dramatic change that was driven into the marketplace when high speed Web capabilities exploded on the market.

 

I am old enough to remember when Internet access was available only over a phone line and the speed was measured in ‘k’ not ‘m’ or ‘g’.  When high speed internet access was delivered it turned the computer from a specialized tool to a utility, just like a TV, and any time you needed information you only had to open a web browser on your desktop workstation and search.  This began a marketplace change to introduce eCommerce which has expanded into omni channel commerce that allows purchase across all channels. 

 

This new reinvention expands the purchasing across all channels to support social networking and shopping across all channels.  This reinvention is being driven now by millennials, a new generation of consumers that has been raised on the technology, that are both comfortable and imaginative with the technology.  This is the new generation of consumers and they are changing the retail marketplace forever.  Retailers must recognize and embrace this changing marketplace in order to survive and succeed in the future.  This will bring some discomfort for the major retailers because it will drive dramatic changes in both the technology and the use of this technology to blend all channels into a true omni channel shopping and purchasing experience.

 

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?