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Retail Information Systems

Shared by: by Association for Information Systems on July 27, 2016: 12:58 CEST


Retail is one of the most important sectors in today’s economy. Since the year 2000, the global trade volume has almost tripled from 6.4 trillion Euro to 18.4 trillion Euro in 2012.[1] Of course, this enormous amount does not arise out of nowhere but involves thousands of companies with millions of employees.[2] Based on this, complex structures arise due to various links between and within companies. Therefore, it is necessary to have a look at the whole supply chain as well as the value chain within companies. Whereas the supply chain allows several types of retail which can differ in terms of, for instance, invoicing or the goods delivery between companies, the value chain of a company focuses on internal company processes.



Although the application of the processes differs from company to company, their underlying structure is similar. Retail companies comprise departments for their supplier and customer relationship management, their order management and selling, their logistics and their accounting. The value chain of a retail company is a large cross-functional process from purchasing through selling products instead of a simple series of functional executions. The departments fulfill subprocesses of the overall process. The integration of the processes and the data often depicts one of the most difficult barriers to overcome. At this point, retail information systems can provide a remedy as they integrate processes and data from different departments for an efficient process execution. Thus, it is necessary to have an integrated process perspective on the company and to understand how integrated retail information systems can help to efficiently support the company’s business.


Learning Outcomes

In order to provide the understanding of the integrated process and data perspective of the retail business as a basis for retail information systems, reference processes can be utilized. Reference processes for the retail business depict the basic processes which a retail company needs to execute its business. For gaining an overall view of a company and for understanding not only the single processes but also the links between the processes, a reference model should be used. Thus, the Retail-H is recommended as a basis for structuring the course. The Retail-H combines the core processes, the management processes and the support processes that a company executes in order to fulfill its business. These processes are structured in a hierarchical way from an aggregated level (framework and main processes) to a more detailed level (detailed processes) for addressing a strategic as well as an operative view. Furthermore, it provides – in addition to the processes – reference data models, also from a highly aggregated to a detailed level.



This approach is beneficial to provide participants with a broad understanding of how retail business is conducted. The objective of the course is not to focus on a special part of retail but to give an overall insight into the operations in the daily retail business. This way, the participants are enabled to resort on this basic knowledge and to adapt this knowledge for particular companies. This allows a versatile application spectrum of the learned knowledge.