Retailers over the years have been moving away from consumer engagement for years into a consumer self serve strategy as a means to contain costs. This has slowly but surely chipped away at the retailer’s relationship with consumers until reaching the point of providing no clear reason for consumers to purchase at a retailer other than cost. I am not a big shopper but I noticed the problem for a long time and this has been highlighted on the occasions when a sales clerk really does engage to make the purchase experience positive. For the most part consumers are left to sift through products that are disheveled out of place to find the product they desire. New technology and especially mobile and wireless technology when coupled with eCommerce and social networking tools provide the means to implement a consumer engagement strategy.
This consumer engagement strategy requires investment in technology and people to develop the robust consumer platform required to support the extended consumer engagement that will encourage consumer retention and growth. Consumers are searching for methods to engage in shopping that allows them to interact with their friends and family while shopping and also provides a means to engage the retailer and streamline the purchase. Large retailers need to focus more on engaging the consumer and encouraging interaction between consumers and the retailer in order to increase the likelihood of a purchase. Technology and especially the mash up of mobile, wireless and social networking technology allows the large retailer to provide the consumer with a positive experience across channels and across geographic regions. These technology tools should be used to enhance the consumer experience with the retailer across all channels rather than segmenting the consumer experience by channel.
Consumers have already started down this path and it seems that the large retailers have been left to struggle with how to interact with consumers and increase sales by channel. This is exactly the wrong focus and retailer should be focused on consumer engagement and the consumer experience across channels. Consumers know, and they have shown, that they are comfortable purchasing in any channel and now they are pushing this engagement across channels by utilizing mobile technology. Consumers are creating their own shopping experience using mobile tools that allow them access any time and any place.
Retailers and especially large retailers must change their strategy to support and encourage consumer engagement to create a holistic shopping and purchasing experience across channels. If retailers do not encourage the engagement and collaboration with consumers to provide this shopping and purchasing experience they will be left with a losing spiral of price competition that cannot be sustained. We are beginning to see the fallout now across some of the major iconic retailers and based on history this will quicken causing the failure, or dramatic realignment of many of these retailers.
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?