Collaboration and engagement are two key factors in the retail omni market that are required to extend and improve the relationships with not only consumers but all partners across the extended supply chain.  Large legacy retailers must increase collaboration with encourage consumers to engage with the retailers through a virtual market to extend the physical relationship with their customers. All retailers must increase collaboration and engage with the extended supply chain partners in order to increase their ability to sense and respond to changes in the consumer demands and market offerings.  A significant key to success in the retail omni market is the collaboration and engagement methods and practices to allow the retailers to develop and strengthen relationships across the marketplace.

 

Collaboration requires sharing control across the marketplace and this practice will require significant cultural changes for the large legacy retailers. These changes started years ago with the addition of Facebook to solidify the social networking platform and it has continued to grow over the years with the improvements in technology and mobile network technologies.  In the early years of the retail omni market revolution the large legacy retailers fought the changes from consumers to open the market, the showroom concept is the best example of this where retailers fought consumers who went to the store to view and touch the product and then purchased online. These large, multi-channel retailers realize now that they must loosen their controlling nature to provide consumers the flexibility to support their lifestyle.

 

One of the key focuses of retailers has been on price comparisons to meet or beat the lowest price offered for products.  This has also forced the large retailers to reduce operational costs, including headcount formerly focused on customer service.  While some customers will always only focus on the price, there are many customers that place a great value on the relationship and softer values that come with building a relationship between consumer and retailer.  Amazon is a great example of a retailer that has developed a two prong approach; low cost and consumer relationship development, that has changed the retail marketplace and provides a great model for the large multi-channel retailers.  Google has also entered the arena of virtual customer relationships in a big way with their reviews and recommendations capabilities that encourages your feedback when you shop or dine using your phone location capabilities to identify your travels. 

 

These are just a couple of examples of the changes in virtual consumer relationships and these capabilities are growing and building upon current capabilities and practices swiftly.  Retailers cannot afford to wait to develop their abilities to engage and collaborate with their customers to develop the relationships. The lesson that retailers must embrace is changes are easier when they are incremental so it is critical to develop the ability to quickly and efficiently sense and respond to these changes.  This is where collaboration and egagement across the entire supply chain from supplier to consumer comes into play to support the efficiency in sensing changes and responding.