Social commerce will create a huge amount of information as part of the consumer interaction and collaboration and this should be planned for by the retailer and their extended partners.  The data and relationships cross partners and so it is very important to be able to interact and access the data across multiple partners.  Since the interaction is across partners, the data access and analysis must also be performed across partners.  This now adds a great deal of complexity to the challenge to capture and utilize the data across multiple partners.  This is why it is so important for partners to work together to first develop a cohesive strategy and data structure framework that supports the objective of sharing data and analysis across multiple partners.

 

Big data initiatives of this nature are very complex and require a very high degree of collaboration in order to bring value to all partners.  I would expect there to be varying degrees of acceptance and integration by various partners depending on the perceived value by those partners.  This does not mean that the initiative should wait while the various partners negotiate involvement and participation practices.  Each partner in the extended chain have specific pieces of information they collect to analyze flow, consumer acceptance and costs of transactions and this should not stop.  The collaborative data analysis provides value by supporting  a framework that allows and encourages analysis across partners by combining data available from the different partners that will enhance the understanding and improve the research results. 

 

This type of initiative is a long term investment in collaboration and technology across partners and the value attained from this collaboration and data access will grow as the collaboration and questions grow.  This does require a rather large investment in both capital dollars to fund the development and research along with a rather large investment in the concepts and even changing the cultures of the extended partner as guided by the results of the analysis.  This investment in culture and time is the greatest hurdle because it requires a leap of faith until the benefits begin to be delivered by the analysis.

 

The greatest challenge for retailers in this climate is the ability to mount and maintain a long term strategy in any practice.  Retailers have been buffetted by consumer change and have jumped from one practice to another without seeming to maintain a long term strategy.  I believe that it is critical now for retailers to develop and maintain a long term strategy that focuses on collaboration and flexibility and a change in culture.  Without this strategic plan retailers will continue to flounder through the capability of the day and will simply draw out the slow death spiral.

 

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?