Integrity in collaborative partnerships is an important factor and without this it would be impossible to maintain long term success in a partnership.  Legal agreements and laws provide guidelines of the minimum requirements in partnerships.  Collaborative partnerships however do not thrive on guidelines of minimum requirements, these partnerships thrive and grow based on trust and integrity.  Legal agreements define your partnership expectations for interaction and commitments to the partnership and within the business context these agreements are required to protect both sides of partnership in clarification of expectations.  These legal agreements though do not build robust partnerships, integrity and transparency build strong partnerships. 


Legal agreements clearly define the professional agreements and expectations between two or more people or organizations in a professional partnership.  Consumers, though, do not expect to sign a legal agreement when they interact or partner with a professional or a retailer, aside from the purchase of products or services.  The consumer purchase of products or services in the culmination of the relationship or the partnership.  The glue that holds this relationship together though is the personal interaction and follow through in the softer and personal relationship interaction.  This is where integrity and transparency really hold this relationship together. 


The legal agreement defines the what will be delivered as a result of the engagement and then integrity and transparency really support how the deliverable will be provided.  Integrity is like a bank account that grows with deposits and both sides of the partnership must make deposits in the account in order to build integrity and the resulting trust in the integrity of both sides of the partnership.  Integrity can be described as made up of the little things that do not have to be done or are not clearly defined in the commitment and they make the difference between a cold impersonal relationship and a robust trusting relationship.  These are the little things that build the relationship and cement the long term success of the relationship.  This are the things that are done, by both sides, not because someone is watching, or they are written in a legal agreement, they are done because it the right thing to do.


I guess integrity may be something that is sometimes hard to define in words but it is easy to recognize in actions.  I know that I personally rate integrity as a very high factor in my personal and professional relationships and as result I protect and value my own integrity.  Consumers are looking for integrity from their professional relationships as well and this will encourage the return and collaboration of consumers with retailers in a manner that returns continued value based on the perceived level of retailer integrity by the consumer.  Integrity and built slowly and can be torn down very quickly, retailers must remember this in their strategy and interaction with consumers and for this reason retailers should view every consumer related decision based on the impact to the retailers integrity just as much as the return on investment.


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?