I think it is safe to say that social commerce has been overwhelmingly accepted by consumers and in fact I think it is safe to say that consumers are actively collaborating and participating in building this social commerce framework and network. Consumers are now actively engaged in changing this social commerce framework to support shopping and purchasing in ways that support their lifestyle and also provide a valuable social outlet to sharing and networking with friends and family. This acceptance and embrace by consumers is now changing the underlying framework of all of retail and as a result impacting retailers and even the real estate market in ways that these same retailers did not envision. Essentially consumers have utilized the social commerce capabilities they have accepted and embraced for years now to take over the retail marketplace and create a shopping environment that supports their changing lifestyles.
The requirement for retailers now is to understand and accept that the fundamental framework of retail is changing and then they must embrace this framework and redesign their processes and procedures to both utilize this new frame and more importantly to do this in a way that supports the discontinuous change driven by consumers now in this marketplace. Retailers have implemented capabilities over the years to allow consumers to purchase across channels now though the social commerce concept adds shopping to the mix of channels and platforms thus changing the way retailers interact with the consumer. Probably the most important concept for retailers to accept is that consumers have taken control of their shopping and purchasing to support their changing lifestyles.
The Internet and mobile technology and wireless networks have allowed the consumer to take this control and I see many retailers, especially the large legacy retailers, struggling to address these demands and capabilities. Many retailers are hesitant to invest in the changes due to the volatility of the marketplace. This is exactly the wrong strategy because the longer they wait the more difficult the change will become and on top of that, the lower the likelihood they will be able to afford the investment.
We see this occurring now with Sears where the model was broken for a while and the way they chose to address the issue was to lower costs and close stores. Retailers have a huge investment in real estate and inventory to support the chain of stores and when consumer shopping and purchasing methods change it doesn’t mean they stop buying. Retailers need to make the shopping process easier and then provide delivery services, or pick up capabilities that meet the consumer demands. This means the retailers must develop and implement this strategy across the entire supply chain.
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?