Collaboration with consumers is becoming more and more critical for the success of retailers going forward and the social shopping and purchasing is a great example of reasons for this importance.  The concept and practice of social shopping is based on collaborative activities between consumers in social networks and utilizing collaboration shopping tools such as Yelp, Foursquare and Retail Me Not.  These social and collaborative shopping tools provide the means for consumers to greatly reduce and even eliminate mall shopping excursions.  Technology is changing the shape of retail and social networking and collaboration tools are at the forefront enabling the changes.  This is difficult to reconcile for many retailers not because of the technology so much but mainly because of the rate and effects of the change.

 

I think the greatest hurdle for many of these retailers is the loss of control of the shopping experience and the ease of purchasing from other retailers.  We have seen over the years examples of large retailers struggling and fighting trends and I come back to window shopping as a good example.  Window shopping by consumers in brick and mortar stores increased over the years with the increase in eCommerce and retailers fought this practice at when the first discovered because of the perceived impact to their sales.  This was a reaction of a perceived problem that retailers perceived as lost sales and consumers perceived as a relationship impediment.  This short term reaction by the retailer resulted in a long term impact to consumer relationships with the retailer. 

 

Collaboration with the consumer is a long range action from retailers that can produce a positive impact to the retailer’s success.  This strategy though may be difficult for retailers to maintain through the realization of the long term results because this strategy requires patience and a long term investment before producing continuous and stable results.  Retailers must change their culture to develop a long term collaborative relationship with consumers in order to ensure their long term success.

 

The retail industry is going through dramatic and discontinuous change in consumer shopping and purchasing habits resulting from social networking and collaboration tools combined with mobile technology.  Retailers must change and embrace these changes in order to survive.  This environment is very difficult to embrace and react to because of the very nature of the changes, however the changes will not stop or slow and retailers must recognize and embrace the change to survive.  Consumers will not slow and the consumer embrace of new and changing technologies must be recognized and accepted by 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?