Retailers these days are being buffeted from many directions with changes and demands from many different directions at once including suppliers, consumers, carriers and technology.  Each one of these demands and changes require an increased level of collaboration in order to understand and address.  The consumer collaboration challenge lies in the heart of the demands simply because of the impact that consumers have on the retail marketplace.  Retailers are beginning to understand the impact that consumers are having as a result of their embrace of social networking and mobile technology.  This is simply going to grow and and retailers must recognize and embrace these consumer capabilities to collaborate and develop a strong relationship with consumers.

 

Consumers for years have been taken for granted by retailers and especially large retailers.  These retailers have decided the products and the methods for delivery of the products and consumers followed because they had no other outlet.  Now consumers have turned the table on these retailers through their expanded usage of technology and this is in turn causing a major disruption in the retail marketplace.  Consumers are not demanding anything out of the ordinary however they are demanding capabilities that retailers fear will disrupt the balance of control and power and in turn impact their sales.  No matter how much retailers fought these developments they could not stop them.  Now retailers must recognize the change required and embrace the change themselves in order to survive.

 

The major change is the demand of consumers for a relationship in shopping.  Consumers are embracing social commerce and a key platform of social commerce is collaboration.  This is interesting because consumers are collaborating with other consumers in their social network in their shopping however retailers do not seem to have recognized this basic requirement.  Retailers need to improve their communication and collaboration skills and this starts with listening.  The value of social commerce is the opportunities it can support to change and improve collaboration between retailers and consumers if only retailers would improve their listening skills.  A key component of collaboration is listening and retailers must learn to listen again to the consumer in order to deliver the shopping experience for which consumers search.

 

Over the years retailers have eliminated their ability and the tools (sales clerks) that provided the listening capability with consumers.  Retailers have focused on cost reductions as their key tool for consumer sales and this is not the capability for which consumers are searching.  Consumers are searching for interaction and social reactions in their shopping.  Retailers can provide this through a focus on consumer collaboration and a flexible foundation in both culture and technology to be able to sense and respond to the stream of discontinuous changes demanded by consumers.

 

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?