Consumers to Dictate What They Want: FMI Speaker

Retailers operate today in a “B2C” — business-to-consumer — world in which they try to predict what consumers want, but in the future successful retailers will adopt a “C2B” or a “C-tailing” view in which “consumers dictate the terms of their relationship with retailers,” said Michael Webster, vice president and general manager, retail and hospitality, NCR, Duluth, Ga.

LAS VEGAS — Retailers operate today in a “B2C” — business-to-consumer — world in which they try to predict what consumers want, but in the future successful retailers will adopt a “C2B” or a “C-tailing” view in which “consumers dictate the terms of their relationship with retailers,” said Michael Webster, vice president and general manager, retail and hospitality, NCR, Duluth, Ga.

Increasingly, consumers are expressing what they want through a multitude of channels, including the Internet, mobile phones, call center and the store, Webster said Tuesday during a technology workshop at the Food Marketing Institute show here. In an NCR survey, 83% of consumers said they want to interact with businesses “that offer them a more seamless experience across multiple channels,” he said.

But this will require integrating what are still different “silos” of applications, he noted. And most retailers are still “struggling with the idea of converged channels,” as evidenced by the fact that online retailing divisions sometimes compete with their own parent company.

The investment in C2B, Webster acknowledged, may be significant, with “a lot of infrastructure behind it.”

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