I think it's safe to say that Amazon has set the standard for consumer interaction and collaboration in their retail shopping experience and that Amazon understands and has also set the standard for engaging consumers and providing new services to enhance the consumer experience and encourage retention. The way in which I measure this is the volume and types of service adoption by other retailers. Amazon has clearly shown leadership in the consumer retail experience and has been leading the retail shopping revolution to support the new demands from consumers based on their changing lifestyles along with the changing retail shopping and purchasing environments. Other retailers are more often than not simply following Amazon’s lead in the retail ecommerce channel.
The challenge though for retailers and especially large national retail chains is breaking the categorization of consumer shopping and purchasing into channels. Consumers certainly do not view their shopping and purchasing as omni channel, they view their activities as shopping and purchasing period. I see this practice of retailers as a key hindrance to expanding and collaborating with consumers to retain the consumers and encourage the consumer to not only return, but to return and encourage their friends and family to return. The large retailers have shown a discontinuous adoption and incorporation of mobile and collaboration tools to encourage consumer collaboration. I believe this limited success and high failure rate is related mainly to the methods and strategy followed by many of the large retailers. They are in many way stuck in their legacy improvement model where they implement a large initiative and then live on the benefits of that initiative for three to five years.
This improvement model does not work in the mobile technology world and retailers must change their practices to a continuous improvement model to allow for validation and adjustment of improvements to both gain benefits and also validate assumptions prior to a large investment. Retailers, and especially large retailers, must implement a framework and a methodology that supports and allows incremental change as required and demanded by consumers. In addition, retailers must also embrace collaboration and partnerships across their extended supply chain and especially with consumers. The best path to success in the future requires an engaged and committed consumer base that drives retention and sales.
Consumer collaboration and engagement across channels to provide one cohesive experience blending the channels it the path to consumer engagement and increased sales. Retailers have been focused on the sale and supporting the ability to obtain the sale in the various channels. I think that the success and expansion of social networking shows that consumers are drawn to collaboration and the ability to engage on the personal level that collaboration provides. Mobile and wireless technology provides the ability to eliminate the walls between channels and support the consumer demands for collaboration and a virtual experience that cross channels allowing consumers to engage based on their demands or needs at the time.
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?