The impact of technology on the retail sector

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O'Kane, John
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Business Information Management
Dublin Business School
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The technological challenges involved in retailing include the planning of strategies to produce efficiency, effectiveness, advantage and profitability. How resources fit these strategies, the people involved etc. ultimately decide the successful implementation of technology. Technology has evolved into cheaper, more accessible applications. Still, the capital outlay required will result in making cost/benefit analysis essential. The capabilities of staff, as regards technology, are of utmost importance to successful implementation. The size of the business is also has considerable consequences. The advantages offered by technology include business process re-engineering, just in time ordering, electronic shelf labels, point of sale systems etc. These advantages offer greater efficiency, effectiveness, and advantage, as well as cost reduction, improvements in quality etc. One area that has been effected by technology is benefits to the supply chain. Operators such as Musgraves have established efficient links to retailers, resulting in greater advantages offered to both retailer and supplier. Effects of technology are clearly described in the concepts of the value chain and the value system. These models clearly show how IT has permeated every level of business. The advent of electronic banking has resulted in affording activities such as payment, balance checks etc, to be conducted with all the advantages technology affords, including the 24 hour availability to consumers. Issues resulting from this technology include security, credit management, among others. The Internet has contributed to electronic business transactions. These may be categorized into two sections. Business to Business and Business to Consumer. This has implications on the strategies implemented by business, the targets set, the contribution of resources etc. With all new technology must come careful analysis of security implications. The growth of credit cards, laser cards etc. has resulted in the need to secure business systems against crime, fraud etc. Several guidelines and security precautions have been developed although, it may be argued that it is impossible to establish a completely secure system. A major, and often under-looked aspect of the impact of technology is the effect it has on people. Its quality is ultimately dependent on how people react to the system, how the system is managed etc. If used correctly, the marketing and merchandising abilities involved with technology greatly benefit retail planning. New technology is being developed everyday. Each development must offer improvement on the capacities and capabilities of the old system. In conclusion, it may be argued that IT investment is essential not only for the success but for the survival of retail businesses. The future will offer new systems with the emphasis firmly placed on continual improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and profitability.