Collaboration starts with a conversation. This is the simplest way that it can be described and yet it can also be the most difficult first step, especially when that first step is performed virtually in the omni market environment.  Conversation is not only the first step to collaboration, it is also the common thread and glue of the collaborative relationship whether with the consumer, manufacturer, transportation or employee relationships its the conversation and the continuous conversation that holds the relationship together and then provides the encouragement for engagement. The end objective of collaboration is engagement and this too cannot be achieved without a continuous conversation.  A great deal of the potential and the success that can be achieved in the omni market depends on collaboration and engagement from one end of the chain to the other. 


The dialog across all partners in the omni market encourages and supports transparency in the relationships and this transparency when coupled with collaboration and then the engagement of the partners provides a key driving force to success in the retail omni market.  Many retailers have focused on the omni channel market that supports sales and delivery across channels This is a first requirement for the retail omni market, retailers must provide an operation and capabilities to execute the process and this execution must cross channels to support the consumer requirements.  Collaboration and engagement then provide the means to develop and support a social relationship across all partners. 


This collaboration and engagement cannot be automated though and requires the human touch, especially in the virtual world.  This will be difficult then for many retailers, especially the large retailers, because they have spent years eliminating costs and automating processes and procedures resulting in reductions in store personnel.  The collaboration and social aspect of the legacy store retail environment has been tied to the sales clerk in these stores and the relationships they developed with the customer. The virtual relationship starts with a conversation and retailers must now develop the means to engage the consumers in a virtual conversation develop the relationship.  This relationship requires the human touch when in the physical or virtual world and requires the support and commitment to develop these relationships over the long term. 


This is a serious and long term investment for retailers and a practice change for them to commit to the relationship with the consumer in the omni market. Without this relationship the only reason for consumers to purchase is the price and this is a losing fight for retailers because there is always someone that will undercut the price and without the personal relationship there is no reason for the consumer to return.  Even in a price war the difference many times comes down to the relationship and this is why retailers must focus on the conversation and the dialogue first.


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?