Consumers have entered into an experimentation phase of shopping and purchasing that demands increase levels of collaboration to first identify and then support the changing demands. Retailers now must develop a control tower framework that provides the flexibility and functional integration to quickly and easily support the changing collaboration demands of both consumers and extended supply chain partners. The difficulty for retailers in this environment is that the changes are not large wholesale changes to the shopping and purchasing marketplace, rather they are what I would term as minor course corrections that although minor in nature they bring a great benefit to the consumer to support their lifestyle needs. The control tower framework allows the retailer to sense and respond to these course corrections in a timely and efficient manner that will help to develop a stronger relationship and two way conversation with the consumer.
We are now past the age of large operational changes to support the retail omni market and are now in the relationship development phase of supporting the retail omni market. This relationship phase requires less large wholesale changes operation or capabilities and more minor in nature refinements to the ways that consumers and retailers can utilize these operational capabilities to support the shopping and purchasing demands of consumers. While the types of changes in this phase may be minor in nature, they will have a huge impact on the consumer relationships and therefore on the sales and success of the retailer. The consumer relationship with the retailer provides the ‘stickiness’ and reasons for the consumers to return to the retailer for shopping and the longer that the consumer stays with the retailer, either virtual or physical, the higher the likelihood that the visit will end with a purchase.
Retailers should not delay in the implementation of this collaborative control tower framework because the delays can and will result in the inability to identify and adjust to the consumer demands. This new environment is another example of an environment that is impacted by waves of minor changes and revisions that will quickly add up to major changes in the marketplace. The control tower framework is a critical piece to the strategy to sense and respond to the minor changes quickly so they retailer is not impacted by eventual major changes in the marketplace. Again, the nature of the changes is such that if the retailer falls too far behind these retailers will not be able to catch up because the cycle of change is too quick.
The nature of the marketplace is geared towards the gazels that can quickly sense and react to changing demands. Unfortunately for the large legacy retailers, they have fallen into the structure like a large ocean liner that does not allow for quick and dramatic course changes. It is for this reason that these large legacy retailers must develop the collaborative control tower that will allow these retailers to sense and respond to the minor course corrections before they can combine into major changes in direction that cannot easily be supported.