Task: Case Study Corona Virus Accelerating Digital Transformations in Organisations: Covid-19 Pandemic and The Children’s Bookshop Jude and Esther Matthews have been operating a small enterprise called The Children’s Bookshop (TCB) in a village in Sussex, for nearly two decades. TCB’s core business is the selling of books and stationeries exclusively for children – from pre-school to primary school level. Its customer base also includes teachers and independent professionals in the education sector. TCB has basic online presence, where information about its mission, products and services, opening and closing times, location, email address and contact numbers, among other details, can be found on its website. Functional information systems are implemented in the Human Resources and the Finance and Accounting departments and in the offices of Senior Management to support their respective operations. There is also a general computer system which is utilised and shared by other members of staff to support customer services, sales, marketing and procurement activities. Altogether, the computer systems are not integrated. While TCB has a website and supporting technologies, the enterprise is largely based on a traditional business model, wherein all customer transactions are carried out face-to-face, in the physical store. Customers can enquire about the availability of a particular book/product via telephone or email, and can also place their orders via these methods. However, they must come into the physical store to pay for and collect their items or to return or exchange items already purchased. This traditional business model is part of TCB’s profit-making strategy to encourage customers to come in and leisurely browse through the store for items of interest. Greatly enforced and reinforced by TCB’s friendly Customer Service team, the strategy is very successful as it drives customers to purchase other products, in addition to what they had initially set out to acquire. There are 45 members of staff on TCB’s payroll. With the exception of the Human Resources and the Finance and Accounting personnel who have clearly-defined roles, all the other roles within the enterprise are flexible, enabling employees to work in several capacities simultaneously. These staff members work as Customer Service (CS), Sales and Marketing (S&M) and Procurement staff. For example, in the role of Customer Service, team members serve as the first point of contact for TCB’s customers, whether by telephone, email or in store. They swiftly attend to customers to ascertain the customers’ needs. Particularly in dealing with customers face-to-face, CS staff help customers to locate their required items. They also use the opportunity to showcase a wide variety of other products in store – new stock, old stock, supplementary products (add-ons), substitute products and discounted items. At this point, the CS representatives have “morphed” into the role of Sales and Marketing (S&M) personnel, advertising other store products to the customers and using persuasive tactics to stimulate further sales. At other times, “flexible” staff members work in the capacity of Procurement personnel, taking turn in managing stock levels – counting, stacking, ordering and re-ordering stocks. TCB has served the village and surrounding communities well for most of its business existence. However, over the last two years, there has been a surge in demand from customers for direct online shopping and for delivery service. While TCB was not digitally capable of offering online shopping, the enterprise had embarked upon a trial telephone delivery service, whereby orders greater than £20.00 are delivered to addresses that are within a three-mile radius. Customers could telephone or email the store to find out the availability of their required product. If the product was in stock, customers would then place an order with a staff member, pay over the telephone using their bank card and have the items delivered to their homes. Delivery was undertaken by some of the “flexible” workers, while other flexible staff members remained in store taking, preparing and packaging telephone orders. The trial service in and of itself had proven to be a fruitful venture. However, TCB could not cope with the surge in telephone and email orders. This resulted in vast delays in the preparation of customer orders and in customers not receiving their items in a timely manner. There were also instances in which orders were delivered to the wrong address, customers received incorrect orders and customers did not receive their orders at all. Consequently, TCB began to see a steady decline in telephone orders and demands for delivery service. The enterprise had started to lose its customers. Jude and Esther are aware that TCB required major technological changes and that they will have to adapt to meet the changing needs of their customers. This reality was confirmed by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in March 2020, when the company witnessed a 250 per cent surge in telephone and email orders, as parents tried to home-school their children and keep them entertained. There was also renewed demand for direct online shopping. Unfortunately, however, the company was not digitally-ready and was therefore in no position to capitalise on the online sales. Furthermore, TCB was not even able to take full advantage of the surge in telephone and email orders as it did not have sufficient delivery drivers, given that most of the flexible staff had to remain in store to receive and package telephone orders, alongside other store duties. The physical store has re-opened with a moderate but steady stream of customers. However, telephone orders continue to soar, providing a clear hint as to what TCB’s online delivery – and profits – would have looked like had it been offering this service before and during the lockdown. In fact, TCB also experienced unprecedented telephone calls and emails from secondary and tertiary level students and professionals enquiring about the availability of books and products for those levels. Jude and Esther now plan to digitise their business model, and hope to yield handsome returns from an accelerated move to direct online shopping. They see no sign of a decline in the demands for online shopping in the years to come. Jude and Esther would like to: (1) implement an ERP system to integrate all functions across the organization, (2) develop web-based customer interfaces to allow direct online shopping and (3) expand their telephone delivery capacity for customers who have no access to the Internet or for those who are not digitally literate. The couple also plans to expand TCB’s core business to include the selling of secondary and tertiary level books and products. Jude and Esther immediately require the professional services of a Digital Specialist Consultant for this very ambitious project. As a Digital Business expert, Jude and Esther have employed your services to guide them and to develop a digital strategy that will support their new business venture. As a Digital Business expert, you are required to prepare a 3000-word report on digital transformation assignment, outlining TCB’s current technological and societal (including the Covid-19 pandemic) challenges, and developing a digital strategy to support the rebranding and transformation of its business. This includes conducting a SWOT or PESTLE analysis, reviewing and recommending the most suitable ERP software solution for the business; and discussing the possible barriers/challenges to organisational digitisation that TCB might encounter along with recommendations for overcoming these challenges/barriers.
Subject Name: Information Technology
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