Consumers have embraced collaborative shopping through a variety of devices, times and places to help them to find products, stores and price comparisons.  Smart phones and tablets allow consumers to utilize these collaborative tools any time and any place to support their shopping and purchasing requirements.  It is time now for retailers to embrace collaborative shopping and purchasing in their interactions with consumers to ensure their success going forward.  Mobile technology and apps combined with social networks have been embraced by consumers to expand their collaborative shopping and purchasing capabilities in a manner that does not require retailers to participate and this must be addressed by retailers to be successful in the future.

 

Retailers have traditionally attempted to maintain control of their shopping and purchasing environments through eCommerce tools, brick and mortar stores and shopping malls.  This has traditionally allowed retailers to control the technology and maintain a separation of channels in purchasing.  Recently retailers have recognized the desires of consumers to purchase any time and any place and these capabilities are beginning to be provided in a consistent manner by many retailers now.  Retailers are now combining inventory across all channels to support the cross channel fulfillment capabilities in an attempt to allow purchasing any time and place. 

 

Retailers have yet to recognize the desire of consumers to shop collaboratively across channels and these retailers are allowing this niche to be filled by third party mobile apps.  This allows these third party mobile app providers to develop a strong relationship with consumers as a portal, or starting point, to their shopping and support the ability to search and shop based on the smartphone location and mobile network capabilities.  These capabilities combined with location based searches and special price offerings make this a powerful draw for consumers and also a risk to the retailers in regards to purchases.  Consumers have been consistent in their actions related to eCommerce and many times these actions do not align with the retailer objectives to protect their sales.

 

In order to continue their success in the future retailers must embrace the consumer practices, rather than fight, and support the combination of collaborative shopping and purchasing.  Consumers have changed their methods in both shopping and purchasing as a result of mobile technology capabilities and most of the large retailers have fallen behind in their ability and desire to support these consumer capabilities.  It is a mistake for retailers to overlook these consumer demands because consumers have shown that they will find a way to meet their demands whether supported or not by the major retailers.  Now we have reached the point in the retail market where control has shifted to the consumer and retailers must now accept and incorporate these demands into their structure.

 

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?