Collaboration is critical to the success of retailers in this new retail marketplace including collaboration across the entire extended supply chain along with the end consumer.  Consumer collaboration is a difficult objective for retailers to attain because consumers can be a very fickle group as far as interaction and collaboration are concerned.  In the retail marketplace consumer collaboration is based on situational requirements and specific needs at the moment.  The consumer must be courted and encouraged every day to react and interact with the retailer.  Consumer interaction and engagement has been raised to an artform by Amazon, based on their practice of continuously engaging with the consumer through suggestions and questions.  I believe the secret to consumer collaboration is the engagement activities that encourages reaction and engagement from consumers. 


Retailers have been engaged with suppliers and carriers for collaboration and interaction for quite some time now and all of the retail partners have certainly realized the benefits resulting from robust collaboration.  The consumer, though, has been a difficult nut to crack for most retailers and the reason for this, I believe, is that consumers must have a reason to engage and react.  There are many reasons for this but I think the most prevalent reason is that consumers simply do not generally engage without a reason.  This is difficult especially for the large legacy retailers because these retailers only engage consumers electronically via rewards programs and email programs.  These large retailers must learn the virtual customer interaction portion of customer relationships and relationship development to encourage a two way interaction and communication.


This is where the large legacy retailers can learn from outlets such as Amazon and Google in ways to engage and interest consumers to participate.  This consumer engagement practice is where Amazon and Google really stand out.  It is well know that Amazon has perfected consumer engagement from a retail and consumer perspective and Google has perfected the engagement from a situational perspective to provide reactions and ratings.  Google has really stepped up their game in consumer reaction and engagement to improve their maps and also suggestions for locations on the map.  Google has really extended the situational consumer collaboration through a combination of their short surveys that pay for response, their tracking of travels and then their requests for reviews and questions related to the places you travel and spend time. 


Large legacy retailers need to learn from these practices to engage consumers and these retailers need to develop these new programs as part of their redefinition of the retail marketplace model.  Retailers have the opportunity to create a new consumer experience but they must take important steps now to first survive in the market and second to create a niche in the market.


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?