In order to be successful in this new retail marketplace retailers must work to become social commerce trend leaders.  Social commerce trends are continuously changing and adjusting as consumers change and adjust their practices and shopping and purchasing methods this means that retailers in turn must adjust and change in order to meet the changing consumer demands.  Retailers have two methods to meet these changes; either through chasing the changes or guiding the changes through collaboration with consumers.  In any course, the consumer has already taken control of their shopping and purchasing practices by embracing the practice of experimentation and integration of tools and capabilities available via the web and mobile apps.

 

Retailers have no choice now but to change their only decision is the method for change.  Do retailers change in a reactionary manner based on consumer tools or do retailers change based on consumer collaboration.  No matter the course chosen by the retailer, they will be changing and these changes will surely disrupt the way they do business.  In my opinion, the best option that provides the greatest long term value and supportability to the retailer.  The direction seems straightforward and that leaves the decision and the strategic plan to the retailer. 

 

I see that the strategic direction that seems to have been chosen by at least some of the large retailers is a reactionary strategy that is based on acquisition of tools that allow the retailer to support current consumer demands.  What I do not see though is changes to the retailer culture to collaborate with consumers in developing new practices.  This will become the defining factor in the long term success of these retailers.  It will be difficult for the retailer to chase the trends and capabilities because the velocity of these changes is increasing.  These changing trends of consumers are based on trial and error of tools and especially mobile apps that are not in the control of retailers and cannot be planned by the retailers.

 

These changes require active interaction with consumers to understand the reasons and the direction for their experimentation.  This is the essence of social commerce trend leaders; the practice of experimentation based on collaboration with consumers.  This is really the next development in focus groups that have always tried to understand consumer demands.  In this new world though the focus group is replaced by collaborative practices with the consumer to collaboratively develop new methods and practices for shopping.  I see Amazon moving in this direction through their interactive base of consumer communications and data analysis coupled with their penchant for experimentation with new tools and technology.  If legacy retailers to not change and embrace this method of experimentation and collaboration with consumers they will be delegated to remain followers that spend large amounts of time and money chasing trends that are past their prime.

 

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?