Consumer collaboration is developed by overcoming one challenge after another thrown up by consumers simply in the general dealings and not due to some plan by consumers.  Consumer collaboration is successful when the retailer continuously generates new activities, functions or opportunities for interactions by the consumer and not because of the retailer’s reputation or product.  Remember that consumers can find and purchase the product anywhere, the goal of the social commerce retailer is to generate the interest and relationship with consumers to lure them to return and remain on the retailer’s site and purchase the product.  Consumer collaboration is the new marketing medium to encourage customer engagement and retention and this is especially challenging because of the short attention span that consumers are developing in the eCommerce world.

 

The challenge then for retailers is how do they continuously monitor and adjust to the changing demands of consumers?  This is not as simple as acquisition and incorporation of new online tools.  Acquisition and implementation of tools helps the retailer by providing new capabilities and this is all good however there must be a change in the process and procedures to maximize the potential of tools.  This is really the key challenge for retailers to change the culture to maximize tools and collaboration with the consumer. 

 

Historically retailers and even other businesses within the supply chain have been able to adjust to market changes through acquisition of new tools.  Many times these new tools have driven and required changes to the business processes and procedures in order to bring value.  ERP software is a good example of this experience where the tool drives an evaluation and revision of the business processes and procedures.  This social commerce trend though is different than an ERP implementation because the trend is based on change and the manner in which consumers accept and utilize social networks and eCommerce tools.  This trend is a discovery and embrace of capabilities and power by consumers and as such it is driven by the consumer discovery and imagination incorporating these tools.

 

The challenge for retailers then is a cultural change that started with the rise and incorporation Facebook by consumers and retailers.  This cultural change requires human interaction and research in order to understand and react to these consumer changes.  This cultural change is moving against previous retailer trends to automate and remove people from the process in order to standardize and reduce costs.  This cultural change cannot be implemented only by implementation of tools, this requires a very coordinated effort to evaluate, experiment and then monitor the results and start the process again, in other words this requires a robust continuous improvement process to understand and react to the changing consumer demands.

 

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?