Retailers must adapt to consumer demands and shopping practices and changing markets in order to survive.  The rate of these changes in only increasing as the tools now available to consumers, along with leading forces in eCommerce such as Amazon drive these changes at an ever quickening rate.  The changes are adapted from current functionality and features based on trial and error along with consumer experimentation to create an adaptive and collaborative change environment.  Retailers, and especially the major retailers must adapt to these demands or risk losing customers and sales.  Its as simple as this; adapt or die.  In this retail environment of shorter consumer attention spans along with greater consumer demands retailers must increase their flexibility along with their collaboration with consumers to retain their place in the market.


Consumers have already taken control of their shopping and purchasing while major retailers have been chasing functionality.  The major retailers must focus on adaptive collaboration with consumers in order to maintain and even grow their place in the market.  Major retailers have the opportunity now to develop the capabilities that will support change and allow for flexibility in capabilities and offering to support and even drive consumer demands.  Retailers must drive the capabilities based on robust consumer collaboration and a practice of failing forward. 


The good news is that consumers, and especially the millennials that are really the tip of the spear in driving these changes, are very open to collaborating with retailers.  The challenge for retailers is really to open up and truly engage with the consumer as a partner rather than a customer.  Retailers must change their mindset of the consumer relationship in order to engage and retain and grow their customer base.  This is extremely difficult for the larger retailers because of the process and focus on cost containment and efficiencies.  Retailers are comfortable with directing and controlling the consumer relationship because it allows them to control and maintain their cost efficient business process and probably more importantly - its the way they have always interacted with consumers.


Millennials are entering the retail marketplace and the job market for that matter as well and have turned many of the base concepts on their ear to realign to meet their personal goals and lifestyles.  As their requests and demands gain visibility other consumers have embraced and expanded them into a force that has dramatically changed the retail market.  My opinion is that retailers are run by baby boomers and these changes are foreign to them and the baby boomers are struggling to maintain a control that they have lost forever.  Retailers now must embrace and adapt practices to increase flexibility and collaboration to maintain their share in the changing market.  


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?