Retailers must engage with consumers at the level and in the method that consumers demand. Consumers now are demanding retailers to engage through a blend of mobile and social technology and engage at a personal level during the shopping process based on the consumer location. This is quite a conundrum for retailers because it requires a complete re-evaluation and rebuilding of their shopping and purchasing strategy. Unfortunately most retailers are more backward looking than forward looking in their consumer sales and shopping strategies. The retail industry has always been made up of a few leading edge ‘explorers’ with the majority focused on maintaining their sales base and steady sales increases.
The combination of mobile and wireless technology may be the new ‘killer app’ that changes the landscape of retail and consumer participation and engagement. This combination provides consumers with an array of tools and connectivity that allows the consumer to blend the physical with the virtual in more and more of their activities. This quickly crossed into the retail arena allowing consumers to use location based search apps and social notification apps such as FourSquare or Swarm to inquire and share reviews, opinions and sales tips for every aspect of day to day life. These capabilities have quickly grown into an important aspect of restaurant and entertainment and consumers are utilizing these same capabilities now in their shopping and purchasing practices.
Large retailers have been focused on their ecommerce presence and providing a mobile friendly version of the web site thinking that was the only requirement, while consumers have leaped ahead in the technology capabilities and usage to create their own shopping and purchasing virtual malls. Consumers have been moving in this direction for years and the larger retailers seem to have been struggling with this for years as well. Unfortunately for these retailers, consumers are not bound by corporate politics or power struggles and have moved on in their growth and technology engagement by embracing third party apps and molding social networking tools to meet their needs.
We have now reached a time though where retailers are beginning to see the changes and now some are taking steps to integrate new shopping and purchasing concepts into their strategy. This is still in its infancy though and requires long term focus and support of the concepts before retailers see sustained results. The challenge in the past for retailers has been in maintaining a long term continuous improvement and change strategy. Retailers, and especially large retailers, generally have trouble maintaining a long term investment level without achieving short term results. In this environment however retailers must maintain the investment and allow for a great deal of trial and error to achieve results.
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?