Collaboration requires a great deal of support and effort and most importantly encouragement in order to be successful and consumer collaboration requires and even greater amount of these three ingrediants because the consumer must be re-engaged every day in order to maintain a usable and value add level of collaboration.  Collaboration requires a level of engagement in order to deliver value to all partners and this level of engagement can only be encouraged for consumers.  Consumers must be interested and encouraged to maintain the level of engagement and this can be very difficult because there are many things vying for consumer attention in their life and frankly collaboration with retailers is not very high on that list of activities.  For this reason retailers must maintain a large number of channels and also a continuous stream of communication with the consumer. 


This stream of consumer communication must be value add as well and it must be something other than a steady stream of discounts and sales.  The communication must provide hints and suggestions on product usage and also must include phrases and opportunities for consumers to reply and provide their own suggestions for usage.  This is where the social networks come into play to support a broad spectrum of response and usage on an open platform that encourages participation and engagement.  Retailers are not required and they absolutely should not develop their own social networks, instead they should participate and engage on the existing social networks.  The social networks provide a means and a ready audience to communicate and collaborate with consumers and develop a community.


The next areas of communication and participation is related to mobile apps and mobile location based shopping services that will reach out and engage consumers based on their location and proximity to stores and malls.  This provides another means to nudge and engage the consumer to collaborate and encourage consumers to participate and shop.  These tools provide a means to simplify the shopping and purchasing experience and an opportunity for the retailer to leave a positive impression and encourage participation and collaboration.  The retailer must engage the consumer at every opportunity and the mobile technology and wireless networks provide another means of communicating and engaging by encouraging interaction. 


All of these methods of engagement require a solid technology framework and control tower framework capability to capture and collate data for consumer engagement.  This requires acceptance that the collaborative engagement will never be ‘completed’ and that it will always require a high level of involvement to encourage active and continuous participation from consumers.  This will most of all require a high level of support and encouragement from leadership to ensure the continued engagement and growth of participation.


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?