Consumers are using mobile apps and smartphone technology along with new shopping services to develop their own personal shopping portals. They are then sharing these shopping portals with the friends and family to develop their own social shopping and purchasing networks that are not dependant on any specific retailer or technology. Consumers are using their personal portals across tools and technology to shop any time and any place as their shopping needs and curiosity dictates. This consumer portal allows consumers to develop their own virtual shopping mall based on social networking tools allowing them to expand and interact as much, or as little as they desire and all with mobile tools and third party apps.
The closest thing that I have seen to this concept that is being delivered and supported by a retailer is from Amazon. Amazon is focused on the consumer experience and interaction that generates consumer retention. Amazon’s strategy of providing a service or a tool and encouraging consumer adoption has paid off over and over again from the Prime service to the Fire Stick and Amazon Video and Amazon produced shows to the Echo. These are all tools and services that simplify consumer daily activities and as a side benefit to Amazon encourage consumers to return over and over again. While many retailers are focused on price and delivery, Amazon has long ago moved on to focus on consumer relationships and building a community that offers a wide range of services, products and tools to simplify and encourage the consumer’s interaction. Amazon truly provides a portal of endless aisles of products and services.
Many retailers have also focused on an ‘endless aisles’ strategy of product offerings without a huge difference in their sales. I really don’t think its the product selection that is a big deciding factor for consumer purchasing, I think that now consumers are looking for a social interaction and connection that gives them a reason to return. I know that I have developed what I would call is a portal of apps and services that I reference all the time when shopping. I’m looking for other versions of the product and product reviews and pricing or specials. In many cases I will order from an eCommerce site because I don’t want to carry the product and I use Amazon Prime so the shipping is free. I am not the most savvy shopper and so if I am developing my own version of a portal I would clearly expect others and especially millennials to be developing own versions of portals that combine product and special offer search engines with social networking tools to enhance and simplify their shopping.
Retailers are missing the point if they only focus on product offerings and ease of purchase. The consumer has passed that priority and in fact have taken it for granted. Retailers must now connect and collaborate with consumers in order to succeed in this new mobile world.
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?