Collaborative commerce is an interesting term that brings the method of shopping to attention as it relates to the purchasing aspect of the retail omni market. Collaborative commerce really describes the omni market shopping and purchasing practices that focus on the relationships between consumers and retailers. This is the bottom line and frankly the key factor to the changes experienced now in the retail marketplace. These changes will not slow and retailers will only be able to support the changes by changing their focus from control to collaboration with the customer. Collaborative commerce is the natural result of the changes demanded by consumers to support their lifestyle needs. Again, consumers have used technology and the Internet to support their needs. They have been open about their desires to simplify the shopping and purchasing process and retailers must now catch up and support these demands to survive.
Consumers and retailers have been at odds with each other it seems for a long time and it two the Internet and a visionary retailer like Amazon to take advantage of this consumer unrest. Consumers are not unreasonable in their demands, in fact consumers are the driving factor behind collaborative commerce practices. It did however require a retailer such as Amazon to recognize and react to these consumer demands. Consumers are more than happy to share their considerations and desires for shopping and purchasing capabilities. Collaborative commerce is nothing more than the next stage of the retail evolution and relationship between retailers and consumers.
The challenge for retailers is the relationship. Retail has always been a social activity and consumers have always been drawn to the relationship and retailers have always depended on the sales associate. The challenge for the larger and especially the legacy retailers is they have been focused on cost cutting measures that resulted in reductions in the sales associates that supported the consumer relationships. The desire for the relationships did not subside, only the retailers’ support for the relationships. Now these same retailers that have focused on cost cutting measures to meet consumer demands are forced to create the abilities to support the virtual relationships with consumers. This seems to have caught these retailers unprepared and requires a concerted effort develop the capabilities.
The good news is that consumers are more than willing to help in developing the collaborative commerce capabilities if only the retailer would ask. This has been the focus of Amazon since their inception because they recognized the need to develop virtual relationships with consumers. More than anything else that Amazon has done in developing into one of the largest and most successful retailer, their development of the personalized relationship with consumers has probably been the greatest factor in their success. It seems to me that Amazon recognized the consumer relationship deficit early and focused developing the virtual relationship to make up for this deficit. In addition to the virtual relationship, Amazon focused on a means to encourage the consumer to return to the site based on cost in product and delivery.