The introduction of mobile technology in the retail market along with the wholehearted embrace of this technology by consumers is redefining service as well as the shopping and purchasing model for consumers. Consumers are redefining their expectations of retail service and utilizing mobile technology to drive their service demands to meet their lifestyle changes. This in turn is driving changes into the retailer’s customer relationship management and services that is also impacting sales and consumer retention. These consumer changing and growing service demands by consumers are redefining their relationship with retailers along with the methods of interaction through shopping and purchasing.
It is no longer enough to simply offer a product and ensure the stock level in the channel where the consumer desires to purchase, retailers must create a social interaction that focuses on consumer retention and interaction with friends and family during the experience. Consumers are changing the experience from a purchase anytime and any place to a shop anytime and anyplace. This change in consumer focus also dramatically changes the retail service model to one of social interaction and relationship development. Retailers must develop this relationship interaction with consumers in order to remain successful and this means that retailers must become more agile and available. This becomes an ‘always on’ requirement for retailers to develop and encourage their relationship with and across consumers.
Consumers are in the early stages of replacing the physical mall with a virtual mall and this requires the retailer to provide a virtual shopping experience for consumers to participate. The trick is the interactive participation with and across consumers to expand the retail experience into an entertaining multi-person activity. Consumers are already using social media and mobile technology to directly interact with friends and family in real time using a combination of mobile and social technologies and retailers must also tap these same capabilities to create a compelling experience that meets consumer demands and encourages consumer expansion and retention.
One aspect that I find especially interesting is interaction and ads from other retailers and even manufacturers during the retail shopping experience. This allows retailers to provide additional activities for consumers to try or even provide opportunities for video interaction with consumers. Retailers have been experimenting with a virtual dressing room concept for a while and I think that instead of a virtual dressing room that consumers would be more interesting in interactive video with their social network during the shopping experience. Consumers are more interested in their friends opinions of how something looks that a virtual dressing room that only provides a hint of fit.
Retailers must be flexible and imaginative in their consumer service offerings. They must listen and respond quickly to consumer demands with an acceptance that they may need to walk away from a service offering at short notice. The point is that retailers must provide new service offerings that support consumer demands for a relationship.
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?