Based on my own experience and my own expectations of retailers in shopping I see there is a deficit of service in the retail marketplace. This deficit of service is impacting the sales for large regional retailers and requiring that they focus on their relationships with consumers from a cost perspective.  This is the worst strategy for a retailer to base their future and retailers are coming around to this realization now.  Service in the retail omni channel market means a great deal of things and the challenge for retailers is that this can mean different things for different consumers and even different consumer groups and generations. Retailers are missing out because they focus more on pushing information to consumers than interacting with consumers to develop a relationship.

 

The interactive marketplace provides the vehicle for retailers and especially large retailers to provide services to the consumer to improve the overall shopping experience.   The new capabilities created and demanded by consumers are related to service and interaction with the retailer for a variety of reasons.  These range from availability, size, combinations of products to create a set or even an outfit, special offerings and notification.  This is can be a non-stop conversation with consumers that encourages and requests feedback and interaction and also encourages consumers to bring their friends and family to the experience.  Consumers are looking for direct and interactive service and these social, mobile and wireless technologies provide the vehicle to support the interactions.

 

Most of the large retailers have been moving away from sales clerks in their stores and have been adding to the duties of the store employees over the years as a means of reducing costs.  This in turn has eliminated or dramatically reduced the interaction of employees with consumers.  Retailers must view these consumer technologies and demands as a means to engage the consumer and provide personalized service during the consumer shopping experience.  These technologies provide  means for the retailer to personalize the consumer experience in any consumer interaction, whether in a store or shopping virtually with friends and family.  These consistent and global technical capabilities also allow the retailer to recognize and continue the personal consumer interaction via any method the consumer chooses.

 

This consumer engagement strategy requires investment in technology and people to develop the robust consumer platform required to support this extended consumer engagement.  One key piece to the strategy is extended the virtual shopping experience for consumers while in the physical store.  Consumers are shopping at all times of the day and night in all places where the connection and the technology is available and this requires the retailer to extend that virtual shopping place and capabilities into the store.  It is not enough for retailers to provide a wireless connection to the Internet and a localized web site that pushes sales information to the consumer.  Retailers must provide a virtual social shopping outlet for consumers while in the store so the consumer can easily continue shopping by utilizing their online shopping cart and then social connectivity while shopping in the store.

 

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