Retailers must develop and implement a method to sense and respond to changes resulting from consumer demands that supports and encourages collaboration between consumers and retailers to both identify the change and also determine the appropriate reaction to the demands.  Consumers will provide information when asked and the challenge for retailers then is to determine how to ask and the appropriate questions that will draw out clarification and demands from the consumer.  Consumers require a continuous stream of questions in the form of mini-surveys to create the type of collaborative relationships that provide value to the retailers.  This type of activity in itself requires a continuous improvement process in order to refine the relationships and most importantly to define the questions and timing of interaction that supports a value add collaboration.


Retailers have implemented a survey process to obtain consumer reviews and evaluations of their purchase experience which acts as a Consumer Collaboration 1.0 platform for basic information.  The next phase of this collaboration is to increase the interaction times and also decrease the number of questions.  This is required to begin to understand what is important to ask and also ensure that the likelihood of consumer response increases.  This is where the value comes into play through both the volume of response and the actual questions to which the consumer is responding.  I believe the struggle for retailers is in the survey definitions and the triggering survey incidents. 


I see retailers as struggling with implementation of a survey process that brings value to the consumer response results.  I also believe this is due to the retailer cultural definition of surveys as larger efforts with a great deal of questions that also require additional consumer action to even start the survey as resulting limitations of the response and the value derived from the response.  These difficulties are structural in nature and must be resolved for the retailers to bring value and develop a collaborative relationship with consumers.  The effort to resolve the structural challenges can be very difficult for retailers because of the level of effort required at a time when these same retailers are focused on the effects of eCommerce purchasing to the brick and mortar stores.


This challenge though is not insurmountable and retailers can provide guidance in resolving these challenges from the large online presences of Amazon and Google.  For instance, Google has developed a couple of pertinent options that focus on micro surveys and also location detection to respond to location activities based on your travel.  These two activities provide a great basis to support retailer collaboration activities.  Retailers can use these concepts to redefine the methods in which they interact with consumers to improve both the consumer relationship and build the type of collaborative relationships that will help retailers to sense and respond to consumer 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?