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Fashion industry is one of the most developed industries around the world. Many firms have come up in this industry because it is very lucrative. In the United Kingdom, this industry is one of the most attractive, employing a large number of the country’s populace, especially in the private sector. Some of the commodities that have received a lot of attention are bags and shoes (Eggert & Ulaga 2002, p. 78).
These items have become the most commonly purchased items from among the male and female customers. For men, shoes would always be the determinant of one’s class. For this reason, they would shop around; looking for a pair that would reflect a class he would want to identify with.
The retailers of this product must therefore know the quality that this section of the market would be looking for. This market segment does not value bags so much. However, they also buy this product, especially the laptop bags or briefcases that would help them during the short journeys.
On the other hand, women are the major market segment for bags. They value this product because, just like men, this would always be the symbol of their status (Barnes, Blake & Pinder 2009, p. 93). They would want a product that meets their specifications. They would also need shoes to match such bags they purchase.
The attractiveness of this industry and the open market structure in this country that allows free entry of firms into this industry has seen an influx of firms into this industry. These firms have mastered the art of trade. Furthermore, they are very competitive. Shoe and Bag Company operates in this field.
Although considered one of the leading firms in this industry, this firm finds itself in a very competitive market, with new firms emerging into this industry. There has been a need to ensure that the firm remains competitive in this industry.
Shoes and Bags Company
Shoes and Bags Company is a medium sized retail firm that has specialized on the fashion products, especially shoes and bags. This firm operates 50 stores in the entire country. The firm has 3000 part-time employees, and 2000 full-time employees based in various stores. This firm is very dominant in London, where it has 20 stores.
In Manchester, Wales and Edinburg, it has 10 stores each. At each store, there are 100 employees, 40 of which are full time, while 60 are part time employees, and a senior manager heads each store.
The firm has its head office at Paddington, where there is 100 temporary and 200 permanent staff, of which, twenty are considered senior managers. At the top management, there are four directors and the Chief Executive Officer of the firm. The directors head Finance, Human Resource, Customer Service and Retail Outlet Departments.
This firm has always been very competitive in this market. The four units have been coordinating very closely to ensure that the firm is prosperous in this increasingly competitive market.
One of the greatest strength has been its experience in this industry. This firm has been in existence for a long period and as such, it is able to predict market forces easily and how this would affect the industry, hence the firm. It knows measures to take in case such occurrences take place.
However, the emergence of new technologies has caused a complete disruption. Emerging technologies have brought in new forces that are completely new in this industry. As Milroy (1983, p. 90) notes, currently, there are no such things as permanent competitive advantage.
What a firm may consider as a competitive advantage today would be its main undoing in tomorrow’s market. As such, there is needed to be flexible in this market in order to manage market dynamics.
This proposal is intended to help this company improve its effectiveness across all the departments in its quest to transform its entire outlook in order to be more competitive in this industry.
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This proposal is meant to help this firm transform its operations, in a bid to ensure that it is in a position to manage the increasing market competition. In specific, this proposal intends to explain how this firm can integrate emerging technologies into all its operations. As Ulaga and Chacour (2001, p. 75) assert, no firm can manage market competition if it fails to adopt emerging technologies.
Emerging technologies hold the answer to the majority of current problems that many firms face in their operations. It is important to note that not all the emerging technologies are good and applicable to such a firm as this. Some of the emerging technologies are very destructive, and can cause complete disruption to a firm if employed (Gilbert 2001, p. 63).
Another factor to consider about emerging technologies is time taken to implement it. Being too early (technology enthusiasts) may be dangerous because a firm may not have time to determine how effective a given new technology is. Similarly, late adoption is dangerous because the technology may be irrelevant by the time it would be implemented by the firm.
Customer service would be the first to adopt new technologies. Customers are very important to this firm. They are the defining force concerning the firm’s success. For this reason, they should be taken care of well if the firm expects to retain the current customers, or retain existing ones.
As Bailey (1996, p. 36) says, technology has redefined the marketing approach. Internet marketing has gained more relevance. Through websites, companies are able to reach out for the customers and even conduct a complete transaction.
Shoes and Bags Company needs to develop an interactive website for this department. Interactive in that customer can make inquiries and receive feedback within a reasonably good time. This would attract the internet addicts who happen to visit these sites.
The website should also sustain a complete transaction by allowing customers to place their order directly through the internet, pay for the product online, and then get this product delivered.
This would demand that the websites be complete shops. Complete shops in the essence that it should have variety of products in each line, each product having its own unique code that a customer would choose. Once the product is picked by one customer, it is replaced immediately in the ‘shelve’ with the code that would be uniquely its (Lindgreen & Finn 2005, p. 63).
The websites should also allow customers put in complain or complements that would to the firm. This would help the research and development section and the quality assurance unit know how the firm’s products are viewed in the market. This website should also be in a position to inform customers of possible promotional campaigns or direct benefits that a firm could have put in place for them.
The next unit that would implement emerging technologies is the Retail Outlets. These outlets need modern technologies that would help them manage their stock. The outlets should adopt new stock taking programs that would help it determine which products are available for and which needs to be replenished (Payne & Holt 2001, p. 40).
This programs is designed in such a way that each product that is taken into the store as a new product is fed into the system. The system would then track its movement within the store. This will not only eliminate possible pilferage, but also help the firm know the rate of stock turnover. Through this, it would be in a position to determine which category of products makes the bulk of sales.
The Finance Department would also need to develop new technologies that would help it manage its duties as per the expectation. The finance unit would require close monitoring of the sales that takes place both in the online market and in the stores. This department is very sensitive. All the departments look onto it to allocate appropriate funds that would enable them run their duties (Piercy 2009, p. 52).
This department depends mostly on the finance generated from the sales process. This firm should be in a position to track down all sales that have taken place and reconcile the accounts to determine any fraud that could have occurred at any of the processes of the firm. This unit may need to outsource professional auditors at this stage.
Human Resource would also need to employ new strategies in order to ensure that it performs its tasks to the expectation of the firm. As Cunningham (2000, p. 29) says, human resource and technology are two extremes that may not function as a collaborative unit. One unit would always displace the other. In most of the cases, technology has been seen as a replacement of human resource.
However, as Fifield (2007, p. 38) observes these two units should function hand in hand. They should complement each other. As such, the human resource would be required to develop an understanding of the new technologies and how they are applied in market in the normal running of the firm’s activities.
Relevant institutional Resources and Sustainability
Relevant institutions would do the above activities, and they would require a given amount of money to implement them and ensure sustainability. The Chief Executive Officer would be at the center of all the activities of this firm. This is because he, as the focal point of the firm, would need to approve these projects after the research and development unit has evaluated them and made recommendations to this regard.
The various heads of departments would be concerned with the activities of their departments, save for the finance department, which would be involved in the operations of all other departments by virtues of its role in the firm.
In the development of a website for the firm, the customer service department would need to be financed and it would require involvement of all the departments. Other departments would need to be involved in the development of the website because this website would form the company image to the outside community. This task should not be left to one department (Ward 1999, p. 85).
Moreover, this department should involve other departments in the development of the website (especially the Retail Outlets Department), because the website is expected to be in a position to support online sales.
It would be necessary to harmonize the sales that take place online and those that take place at the stores. The website should also direct its customers to the nearest outlet in case they need to see the items physically. The Finance Department would need to allocate finance for this project in the initial face.
This project would be self sustaining after a given period of time. Through advertisements that other institutions would be making through this website, and the sales generated from online sales, this firm would be in a position to generate a lot of revenue through this.
The project of the Retail Outlets is specifically for them. Other departments are may not find direct relevance to it as it majorly concerns the management of stocks within the stores. The other concerned party in this case would be the Finance Department which would need to fund the project. This project may be a little more expensive than other proposed projects above.
However, it would be very helpful in the long run because by eliminating pilferage, it eliminates profit reduction caused by unscrupulous employees. It would also facilitate ease of recording sales rate for each line of products (Weiss 1994, p. 87). Through this, it would be easy to plan on which line of production to increase investment on. This project would need regular funding at intervals as maintenance fee.
The proposed activity of the Finance department specifically affects the unit singly and as such, may not need to involve other departments. The main expense for this department would be the cost of paying the outsourced firms to carry out the auditing task. In the proposed activity of the Human Resource Department, there would be a need to incorporate all the departments.
According to Ahmed and Rafiq (2002, p. 26), the Personnel Department affects all other departments of the firm. All the departments have employees who are under the Human Resource Department. When ensuring that employees adopt new technologies, it would be done in line with their respective departments. Hence, employee appraisal would be done in their respective units.
According to Atkinson (1990, p. 39), projects would be evaluated to determine their effectiveness in achieving the objectives they were intended to meet.
The aim of the above proposed projects was to ensure that the firm is transformed to reflect the current market structure in order to be in a position to compete effectively with other firms. The projects must therefore be evaluated to determine if they meet the above objective. Different units would do evaluation of the proposed project.
The quality assurance team would evaluate the first proposed project. This team would ensure that the websites functions to its intended purpose. This team would assess the performance of this website from various fronts. All the departments of the business would need the website for various functions.
The demands of these departments should be met by this website. it is only through this that the website would be said to be performing as per the expectation of the firm. The other departments would also take part in the evaluation of this website. They will be expected to report on the impact of the website to their various duties.
In the proposed project of the sock management at the retail stores, the quality assurance unit in conjunction with the retail outlet management will do the evaluation. The focus in this evaluation would be how well this program is able to track stock of the firm once they get into the retail outlets (Woodruff 1997, p. 49).
The program must be a security on its own, and it should not be a program that can easily be manipulate by the employees. Another aspect that would be of interest during the evaluation process is the employees’ attitude towards this new system.
The notion that should arise is that this program is meant to study movement of stock within the stores in order to help in ascertaining the rate of stock turnover and other management records concerning the stock. The employees should not feel that the new program is meant to ensure that they do not carry any item from the shop. This may discourage them for they would feel that the management does not have trust on them.
In the finance department, there would be the need to evaluate how well the firm is able to track down sales in order to ensure that they get the right amount they should receive from other departments.
The auditing team may help in this. In the human resource department, of interest during the evaluation process would be how well the employees are adapting to the new technologies that the firm is employing at its various units. There would be the need to ensure that employees are well updated on issues relating to the technology.
Justification of the Above Approach
The above approach would be very important to this firm. As noted in the introductory part, this market is very competitive. New firms are coming into existence with new methods of production, or just new and better products. This industry is very sensitive to emerging technologies.
As Bryman (2001, p. 61) states, fashion wears like shoe and bag have very short life span. Once in the market, it may take a short while before another firm comes out with new designs of the products. As is always the case, the market would always move to the new products, which to them, they will consider to offer more value than the existing products.
As such, there would be need to ensure that the firm keeps pace with others in advancing their products. Best (2009, p. 72) says that currently, firms may not survive if they fail to manage market forces.
Managing market forces in this case implies that the firm is able to produce new products as often as would be necessary in order to remain competitive. This can best be achieved through managing the emerging technologies. By adopting the emerging technologies as stated above, the firm would find it easy to manage emerging technologies. This would help it remain competitive.
The timeline for the adoption of the above-proposed projects per department can best be represented in the Gantt chart below.
List of References
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