Retailers have revised their strategy to acquire or build tools that support omni channel environment that consumers are building and must now change their culture to one of consumer inclusion and engagement in order to plug into and participate in the consumer value network.  All of the tools and capabilities will not matter in the success of retailers going forward without a culture of consumer inclusion and engagement to hold these pieces together.  Retailers must become the consumer advocate and represent the consumer demands in the consumer value chain or consumer themselves will block them from participation.  The important thing to remember is that consumers are building the value chain using tools and technology easily available and these consumers do not require retailers to provide these capabilities, only to support these capabilities.

 

This is a big difference in retailer to consumer relationships and speaks to the consumers taking control of their shopping and purchasing.  In this current retail marketplace model, retailers must engage with consumers and provide reasons for the consumers to interact and shop with the retailer.  Consumers are no longer bound by geographic regions or retailers in order to meet their demands.  This is the fundamental challenge for retailers and also the fundamental reason for retailers to change their culture and relationships with consumers to one of inclusion and engagement.  Consumers desire a more personal relationship and direct communications and interaction with retailers when shopping.  This is a difficult challenge for the largest retailers because they have spent years ignoring customers and focusing on price and expanding footprints while consumers have been searching for a personalized experience and relationship with retailers. 

 

Retailers have left the personal relationship shopping to the smaller specialty boutiques or the very exclusive stores and small chains.  Consumers are using the technology and easily available to create a means to develop a virtual shopping experience that supports their desires to build and experience this personal shopping experience.  This shopping experience, or value network is now able to provide the personal experience through social networks and third party apps.  This allows the consumers to relegate retailers to the role of wholesalers or distributor of products competing against a global market. 

 

Retailers must focus on inclusion and engagement of consumers in order to increase their participation and importance in the consumer value chain for a service provider to a valued add partner providing services and support for the shopping experience rather than simply the role of a wholesale supplier.  This will be very difficult for many retailers because it requires a change in their business model to support and provide soft services rather than simply direction and supply of products.  Wal Mart and Macy’s have discovered this challenge first hand in their battle with Amazon.  These retailers are also beginning to turn their culture as well to recognize the importance and even strategic advantage to store real estate and the employees in the stores. 

 

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?