Retailers have a tremendous opportunity now to incorporate more and more consumer feedback into the product development and life span management cycle through an increase in collaboration and increase in consumer shopping data available from the eCommerce channel. In my opinion one of the greatest opportunities for retailers in this omni market environment is the increase in collaboration and communication opportunities along with the increase in shopping and and purchasing data available. On the other hand one of the greatest challenges for these retailers is developing methods to encourage the collaboration and understand the huge amount of data presented from the ecommerce challenge.
Retailers must remain focused on the opportunities and the methods to encourage and incorporate these new opportunities in the product development and especially the product life span management. I do not really see the product development process dramatically changing in the near term mainly because this change requires a change in the culture of both the retailer and the product development. This is a huge change to bite off in addition to the need to react to market disruption. Just because the product design may struggle with the change to incorporate consumer collaboration though does not mean that he retailer should also delay the change to encourage collaboration.
These changes are not a ‘once and done’ change, they are rather an change, and growth, in process development and process management. These changes to increase collaboration also requires a change in retailer attitudes and culture to develop the means to support the collaboration changes along with the process and tools to incorporate the results in the collaboration. This is where the retailers must focus and start with a flexible and robust framework to allow for starting with the basics and then supporting continuous and short cycle improvements. Consumers still demand interaction with retailers and the omni market and especially the increase in eCommerce shopping is reducing the traditional feedback loop for large retailers. It is critical for these retailers to develop new channels of communication and collaboration with consumers and this critical need should be driving the urgency in development.
Retailers will struggle with the change and incorporating the means to increase collaboration and they must at the same time remember that this is a critical piece to replacing direct consumer communications that is being lost with the increase in eCommerce. This allows retailers to manage and focus the change on the direct consumer feedback, rather than chasing market developments after implemented by other retailers. I do not think that the large national and regional retailers have a choice in this matter, without the increase in consumer interaction and collaboration retailers run a real risk of losing relevance 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?