The relationship is shifting from distinctive channels to a continuously changing number of touchpoints. These touchpoints cut across digital and physical channels. They are used by the customer as they please, often with little predictability.

The touchpoints are used by the customer in two fundamental ways. For inspiration and communication with the retailer, and to buy from the retailer. The customer flits across these touchpoints as and when they please.

With such freedom and choice, it is now time for retailers to be proactive, and to ‘take it to the customer.’

The single physical channel was relatively easy for retailers to control. At the very least they knew where, and roughly when,  they were going to ‘come into contact’ with the customer. And they knew it was on their patch. It was on their terms, under their rules. The retailer held all the cards.

The internet, e-commerce and the moving to new channels has changed that completely. The proliferation of retail possibilities has just added to the complexity. It has also accelerated the loss of control that traditional retailers once enjoyed. The stability of power, based on the buying and selling of product, has crumbled away.

The complexity behind multiple touchpoints, has also magnified the range of skills, expertise, and tools required to be competent, proficient, and to excel across channels. Best practice has managed to buy-in, and evolve internally, many of these skills and processes.The multi-touchpoint retail environment has necessitated a new Age of Collaboration.

Smart and efficient retailers can leverage their assets, and through forming intelligent relationships can make themselves once again the centre of the customers’ attention.

By working with social media partners, and logistics businesses they can add efficiency to their end-to-end facilitation, projecting themselves far ahead of their own capabilities.By working with housing developers and landlords they can assure location viability for physical shops.

They can achieve marketplace consolidation by working with their brands and suppliers and through forming mutual relationships with competitors and complementary retailers.

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