Consumers have wrested control of their purchasing practices through a combination of mobile technology, online purchasing, third party mobile apps and retailer modifications to the entire purchasing flow. Consumers have redesigned their shopping and purchasing practices to align better with their lifestyle changes by mashing up technology readily available to them. Retailers have finally recognized first that consumers will not accept the limitations previously imposed on their shopping experience and second that the consumer demands are a continuous and steady stream of change driven by technology and imagination. Consumers are exercising control over their shopping and purchasing now based on technology, market and service provider capabilities in new ways all the time now and this requires engagement and flexibility across the market.
The driving factors are technology and imagination of both consumers and the retail marketplace, this is driven by consumers, retailer offerings (especially Amazon) and third party technology. The technology capabilities and flexibility are really fueling the imagination from all quarters to change at least as much as the changing consumer lifestyle demands. Sometimes I think it is difficult to identify the driving factor; technology capabilities or lifestyle changes because the technology has definitely made a great deal of lifestyle changes possible. These changing demands and capabilities have now almost taken on a life of their own in supporting the consumer purchase demands and have extended across just about every partner in the extended supply chain.
It has taken quite a while but retailers are starting to change their strategies and respond to these changing purchase demands with their own technology tools and services. All of the major retailers have taken great strides to change and incorporate new technology tools and services in response to the consumer demands. These changes have gone a long way towards blurring the lines between channels in response to the consumer changing practices. This is manifested through the push for use of the retailer’s mobile web capabilities in the stores to provide additional services while the consumer is shopping.
The most interesting retailer reaction, and one that I believe will become the normal brick and mortar practice soon is now being introduced by Bed, Bath & Beyond to reduce the amount of inventory for purchase and increase the amount of inventory to showcase on the store floor. This is an imaginative twist to the endless aisles practice where retailers offer additional variety online. I think this is a great concept and really extends the usefulness of the store real estate to allow consumers to see and touch then purchase online. I believe this to be a trend of the future and look forward to the response from other retailers.
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?