In this blog I will focus on how information systems are used in the retail sector. Although the use of information systems in this sector has been around for many years, many of the same systems are still in use. For example, information systems are used in simple functional areas such as till operation, stock control and recruitment. In till operation, it is called an EPOS or an electronic point of sale in which the bar-code is scanned. When this identifying code is scanned, the branch computer/head office computer searches the stock file for the product matching EAN number. The price and description of this EAN number is then extracted and sent back to the till. The Branch/head office computer also records the transaction of that item for stock purposes.
Information systems for many years now have been used for administrative and stock control purposes. Hand held computers also known as SEC(Shelf Edge Computers) are used by staff to record price changes in stock, for creating stock pictures and also for delivery purposes. Although these may seem like very simple and basic functions, they are essential to all shops and supermarkets.
Information Systems are now used in online shopping which allows consumers to have a virtual shopping experience. This allows consumers to view products, prices, special offers etc in which they can place an order. In the internet shopping process, consumer enter in credit card details which are protected by an encryption system or secure link to protect the consumers details. The order is then received and sent to a database which communicates with a distribution systems and then delivered to the customer.
This quick and efficient process is key in the modern business world as the majority of retail stores have an online store. This element also encourages an online community between the business and their customers which encourages feedback and brand loyalty.
Information systems are a vital aspect of the retail industry. They have many advantages to both the customer and to the organisation. For the customer, I.S ensure efficient and quick till operation, products more tailored to their needs, various payment methods and improved customer service. For the organisation, there is more efficient stock control, more efficient till operation, ability to monitor staff performance, quicker shelf pricing and less space required to to efficient stock control.
For more on this area, there is an interesting case study on I.S in supermarkets: http://kerryturner.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/ict_in_supermarkets.pdf