I read that Wal-Mart in the U.K. will allow customers to determine what products they carry in the store via e-emailings with digital images and product details sent straight from the manufacturer. I’m not a big fan of Wal-Mart, but I have to give them credit, because this is the first such initiative I’ve ever heard of, and from one of the world’s largest retailers no less.
Here you have an example of the direction that retailers are heading in. The merging of e-commerce and brick and mortar locations is breaking down the barriers between the consumer and the manufacturer. Leveraging the Internet will become the vehicle by which retailers are the middle man that allows customers to customize and order specific products…and I think representative of the next generation of CRM sometime during the next 5 years.
Web 2.0 is making customer service two-way and bi-directional again, in addition to allowing consumers to take control of marketing and branding via consumer- generated content. Along those same lines, here you have the first steps of how e-commerce is going to act as a conduit throuhg which selling will become an open-ended process where products are made-to-order and manufacturers and partners take a more direct role in the transaction and delivery of services and products.