Retailers and especially large legacy retailers must modify their culture to support the changes demanded by consumers to support their changing lifestyles.  These large legacy retailers must understand that consumers have used social networking, omni channel purchasing capabilities and mobile technology to reshape their shopping practices to support their changing lifestyles.  This means that retailers no longer control the shopping and purchasing capabilities and they must accept these changes in order to survive and prosper in the future. These changes require a culture of collaboration and flexibility that encourages change in the retail space and the manner in which retailers interact with consumers.  It requires a culture of partnership that supports and encourages communication and accepts the expanded role of consumers in the retail marketplace.

 

Most larger legacy retailers have realized they need to change in order to survive and they are taking steps to implement changes to extend their wireless and omni channel purchasing capabilities.  Some retailers have started an acquisition program to acquire companies to support their omni channel expansion.  Time will tell if this acquisition of capabilities will be coupled with the cultural change required to support the consumer demands.  This is a good start to meet the consumer demands although we have not seen how these acquisitions are planned to be integrated into the retailer marketplace practices and how it will be implemented to create the type of shopping and purchasing practices that consumers are demanding. 

 

These new capabilities will mean nothing if the implementation plans do not include a new cross functional social network and collaboration framework that encourages feedback and continuous change to adjust to meet consumer changing demands.  The acquisition of capabilities provides a jump start to the change and it also requires a concurrent change in culture to take advantage of the changes and implement a framework of tools, technology and culture that accepts and implements change based on feedback.  Unfortunately, acquisition of tools and capabilities will only prolong the slide without a matching change in culture to embrace the change and implement the collaborative and flexible culture required to carry forward the practices and succeed going forward.

 

Implementing change requires two ingredients to be successful; capabilities to deliver on new consumer demands and even more important the culture to collaborate with consumers to understand and deliver on future consumer demands.  Of these two capabilities I think the most important is the cultural change to collaborate with consumers.  This is required to not only deliver the changes demanded but also, and more importantly, to understand the consumer's reason for the changes.  Retailers must understand the consumer lifestyle changes that are driving their shopping and purchasing practices changes and they must then adjust their retail practices to align with these changes.  Retailers can no longer simply offer a service and then expect to relax, or more accurately to take their time in delivering the next major improvement.  Retailers must now deliver incremental improvements in a flexible framework that supports a continuous improvement culture.

 

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?