It may sound contrite, however, it is probably more true today and ever that the only constant in the retail market is change and retailers are buffeted with changing demand on an almost daily basis.  Retailers must first be open and accepting of the change and this requires a framework and culture that encourages collaboration and interaction with both partners and customers.  Retailers must second must implement a technology framework that is both flexible and robust to support the collaboration and also the functionality changes in an efficient and stable manner.  Retailers must third, and this is probably the most difficult, change their culture to eliminate silos and barriers to the increased communication and collaboration between internal and external partners and most importantly to open communication and collaboration channels with consumers.


I think that by this point it is obvious that the large legacy retailers are open and accepting change.  These retailers are speeding change through acquisition to help them redefine their capabilities to meet consumer and market demands.  This is a great method to leap ahead in capabilities and deliver on current consumer demands and really is required at this point for these retailers to remain viable in light of the disruptive changes in the omni market.  This allowed retailers to catch up quickly in reaction to the disruption and the juggernaut Amazon. 


These same large legacy retailers now must incorporate the technology to both support their acquisitions and then continue with the technology changes demanded by consumers.  This is a difficult endeavor though because these large legacy retailers must also account for their legacy ERP and financial systems that run the business.  This can be a significant challenge for the large retailers and cannot be addressed simply through replacement due to the cost and the business impact.  Retailers cannot though ignore the need to continue to develop and acquire technologies to support the continued changing demands of the market and also the consumer.  This requires implementation of a robust and flexible technology framework that can support the requirement for speed in delivery.


The most difficult challenge though is changing the culture of these large retailers to eliminate the silos and barriers that slow the communication and collaboration.  This is the most important and also the most difficult to embrace and internalize.  This is important because Amazon and other online based retailers have already embraced the capabilities and are already way ahead of the curve on achieving a return.  This is also important to provide an outlet and communication link with consumers to analyze their online shopping patterns to enhance forecasting and planning.  The last critical driving factor to changing the culture is the need for retailers to develop a relationship with consumers and this flexible communication and collaboration practice provides the means to deliver.


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?