Consumers are bringing great changes to the retail market through their collaboration and integration of mobile and wireless technology into their shopping and purchasing practices. The collaboration across consumers must spread to the retailers, manufacturers and the logistics partners that connect the retail market. The impact of the changes demanded and driven by consumers can only be accepted and incorporated into the market through open collaboration. Retailers can no longer control the market place in and must instead open their practices to collaboration with all partners in the extended supply chain, including the consumers. Consumers are re-making the market based on their own needs and requirements and if retailers do not collaborate to meet these consumer demands, the consumers will simply collaborate with the partner that will meet their needs.
Retailers have been in control of the shopping and purchasing experience from the very beginning and this has allowed retailers to offer services and products according to their own best interests and benefits. Periodically consumers revolt and bring forward their own demands causing a bit of a disruption. Two examples of this is the entry of Amazon onto the market to sell books. According to general retail beliefs this could never be a success and it was quite a surprise consumers embraced the concept and turned the book market on it’s ear, driving out many established book retailers. The second example is the JC Penney sales marketing strategy to eliminate sales and focus on ‘always low prices’. This fell flat because consumers have been conditioned to look for sales and when they are eliminated there is no draw for consumers.
I believe that we are now entering into a similar consumer revolt that will dramatically impact retail sales and purchasing. This is being driven by three consumer trends;
- The consumer embrace of technology and especially their whole hearted embrace of mobile technology and improved wireless capabilities.
- The changing consumer lifestyle that is changing the way consumers view common practices and methods.
- Consumer collaboration through social networking and development of virtual communities.
These three trends are driving changes into the retail market that will overturn the generally accepted retail practices and especially the control of the retailers on the market place. Consumer collaboration will become the ‘killer app’ of these times.
In order to understand you only need to look back to the beginning of Amazon and the impact on the book market, consumers embraced the ease of shopping, the technology improvements to shopping and also the consumer collaboration brought by Amazon through consumer reviews of books and products. Technology advances are allowing consumers to expand their collaboration not only across and between consumers but also across and between retailers, suppliers and also the logistics providers and third party providers that connect the pieces.
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?