Retailers must develop and embrace a culture that supports and encourages experimentation.  This can start with a focus on consumer relationship experimentation, although I firmly believe this will quickly expand throughout the enterprise as the realization of the scope and breadth gains understanding.  I focus on a culture change here because it must be embraced by the senior leadership in order to succeed across the organization.  Individual initiatives will result from this culture change to support and develop the capabilities.  The senior leadership though must focus on the strategic direction to change the culture and encourage experimentation throughout the organization.  This will be difficult to maintain a focus especially while the retailer is navigating through a great deal of disrupting changes.  I believe this is the only way though to successfully navigate the changes and disruption.

 

This experimentation culture is not a new phenomenon, it has been embraced and expanding in the consumer market and especially in the technology market for years.  It has now reached a level though in the retail marketplace that it cannot be ignored.  General retailers and especially the large retailers have never chased bleeding edge technology however I am not speaking of bleeding edge technology in this place either.  I believe this can quickly be addressed through an expansion continuous improvement that focuses on consumer collaboration and demands.  The retailer viewpoint and support must be changed from large project implementation to a smaller cyclical cycle of improvements.  When viewed this way it should sit very well with the retail senior leadership.

 

The challenge however will be with the implementation of a control tower type of technology that allows functionality experimentation in addition to a change in culture to reach out and collaboration with consumers.  This cannot be implemented in a controlled manner without a control tower technology to route and monitor, the changes are coming too quickly and are frankly disruptive to a legacy type of technology framework and process and methodology framework.  The control tower supports change in a manner that is efficient and allows for experimentation quickly and efficiently. 

 

There are many suppliers and practices in the market that can help with the technology aspect of a control tower implementation.  There are also many service providers that are capable of helping to implement a strategy of experimentation and collaboration.  The key ingredient to this challenge is the desire and commitment of senior leadership to support and drive these changes into their organization.  Unfortunately it is too easy to go along with the legacy process and procedures, it is always easier to stay the course.  However we are seeing that the retailers late to the table or still fighting change are the retailers that are struggling the most to survive in this new marketplace.

 

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?