How retailers react and grow their social commerce strategy and capabilities needs to be very much a part of their culture in order to be successful. The success realized by Amazon or even Starbucks as a result of their social commerce strategies is due in large part to their culture and the focus of leadership on the cultural as well as commercial applications. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to buy a culture because of the dependency on leadership to support and encourage the culture. This is a very big difference between the current marketplace and the historical marketplace; you can buy technologies and you can buy competitors however you cannot buy the culture that make the technologies and even the competitors successful.
There are many examples now of retailers especially that have attempted to either buy into or develop the technology capabilities to support social commerce with varying degrees of success and failure. This is related to the culture and the focus of the company leadership to accept and encourage the new focus and culture required to succeed. Many companies have implemented the technology to support eCommerce and omni-channel sales with a focus on cutting costs and improving profits only to find that their investments did not produce the anticipated results. These failures I believe are brought on more from not accepting the culture and a focus on profits over customer service and loyalty than anything else.
Organizations discuss the life time value of customers and yet most organizations to not embrace the concept of the life time value of customers. What I mean by this is that while organizations intellectually understand the value of customers, they do not socially accept the concept that they must invest in the relationship in order to build the long term relationship. I think that the difference now is that customers are focused on developing relationships with retailers while most of the larger legacy retailers are still focused on the transactional sale with the customer. To succeed in the future retailers must begin to focus on the social aspect of the sale rather than only the transactional aspect of the sale.
Millennials are changing the shopping and purchasing aspects of the marketplace and in order to remain viable and grow retailers must embrace the social aspect of commerce. This requires a focus on culture and relationships first and the technology and operational execution of the sale second. An important ingredient to their success is also the cultural embrace of the life time value of the customer relationship to ensure a life time commitment from the customer. Millennials are putting together new methods to interact on a daily basis and retailers must give them a reason to interact in addition to just the product.
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?