Consumer collaboration programs are necessary for the retailer to effectively achieve value from collaborative consumer interactions.  This allows the retailer to plan and coordinate both the interactions and the touch points of the relationships with the consumer.  It is important that collaboration programs are planned and coordinated then to allow for the interaction to come across as free wheeling and at the same time be prepared and then the retailers can direct the interactions in a manner that delivers value to both the consumer and the retailer.  These programs help the retailer to come across as professional and guide the types of interactions in a manner that allows for a professional and value added experience.  This experience is the key to the retention of consumers and reaction and delivery of the changing consumer demands.


In order to encourage interaction, collaboration must allow for and come across as a bit of a free wheeling interactions in order to deliver and develop the interactive relationship with between the consumer and the retailer.  It is important for the collaboration interactions to come across as fresh and immediate in order to encourage the consumer to participate.  It is also important for the collaborative programs to be flexible and reactive to the consumer interactions to encourage them and help them to feel they are participating and guiding the program in order to encourage a commitment and retain the consumer’s interest. 


It is important to understand that the most free wheeling type of relationship is based on well planned and carefully coordinated programs and activities.  The retailer must be prepared for every contingency in order to quickly react and adjust the program to the consumer.  This is very difficult and requires a great deal of attention and focus for the program to come across as customized for the individual consumer and yet be able to support almost any consumer.  Remember the objective of the collaborative programs is to encourage two way communications between retailer and consumer so the retailer develops an outlet for learning and reacting to consumer demands.  This means that the program must be flexible to feel individualized and yet planned to support the widest level of interactions with the widest array of consumers. 


Collaboration programs with consumers are very difficult because of the very nature of the consumer interaction and relationships with the retailer.  Professional collaborative programs across and between retail supply chain partners are simple to understand and define because there are clear objectives and points of collaboration that can be defined to bring value to the relationship.  The consumer collaboration program however is a bit of a fishing expedition where the retailer explores what they believe are opportunities for consumer collaboration in order to identify and then develop the points that interest consumers.  This is the key and at the same time the greatest challenge; to cast a wide net that hooks the greatest number of consumers into a relationship that delivers value to all of the participants.


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?