Consumers are demanding increased collaboration from retailers and their partners interacting across the entire fulfillment chain to meet the changing consumer demands and shopping experience.  Consumers will no longer meekly accept the controlled response and attempts from retailers to control the shopping the shopping experience because the technology available provide many options that will meet the consumer demands.  The result is that omni channel retail requires a very high level of collaboration and active participation across the entire network to support the changing consumer demands.  Since the beginning of the Internet age retailers have attempted to mold and control the consumer shopping experience based on their own best interests and now consumers have embraced the technology that allows them to break free from these limitations.


Collaborative fulfillment means to me that each partner in the extended supply chain interacts with each and across the extended supply chain to first understand the optimum fulfillment objectives and then to continuously communicate across the extended supply chain until the product is received by the consumer and the consumer accepts and keeps the product.  While this sounds straight forward in the explanation it covers a great deal of communication, connectivity and processes across the extended supply chain.  This is not simple process and requires robust integration capabilities and also security to protect consumer and retailer information across the extended chain.  All this said, though, this is not an option or nice to have for retailers to create their omni channel marketplace. 


Many retailers and partners have been moving ahead with the integration and collaboration over the years through internal initiatives and partners to develop a framework.  For instance Wal Mart has been increasing and improving integration and communications with supply chain partners for years to improve their efficiencies and reduce costs, Amazon has been increasing and improving communications with consumers for years to develop a relationship and reputation for customer service and transparency.  Now carriers like UPS are providing direct consumer interactions and delivery management capabilities to improve the delivery coordination and reduce theft.  Add to this the increased consumer capabilities available through mobile technology and the retail marketplace seems to be coming to a point where all capabilities are converging to deliver a true omni channel.


All of this places the large legacy retailer in a very difficult position because it requires the retailer to change their culture from a command and control to a collaborative practice.  These legacy retailers will not be given an opportunity to mold the processes to simplify their own requirements but will need to focus on meeting the demands of the new omni channel marketplace.  These legacy retailers must rebuild their brick and mortar retail market into an omni channel marketplace all at the same time they are being forced to meet the new consumer collaborative 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?