The Officers Club

Executive Summary

The main feature of this assignment will introduce the nature, benefits, failure or success of Organization's new born technology to explore its features. First we will take a look on UK based Retail company named The Officers Club, which is recognized for its quality Men's garments and accessories. Company's overview includes company's profile, history and its products. The overview gives a brief explanation of The Officers Club organization. It explains how company remained consumer focused because of their huge, loyal following business strategy.

After that, we will explore the company's innovation strategy in business utilising value chain and its various features which has led The Officers Club to enhance performance and stepped into online shopping experience, reducing time and cost at till points through new bar-code software, intranet based communication software and to become one of the most famous and powerful retail grocer companies nationwide. We will go into details about its innovative way of serving customers online, online recruitment and inside retail outlets using a brand new developed sales and network software.

Concurrently, we will review what were the reasons for introducing technology within organization among managerial and external influences. Customer service plays a very important and decisive role in order to serve consumers but technology based tools reduce cost efficiently and boost revenue. Then we will take a look on the External and Internal Triggers which caused the invention of technology within organization. Advantages and disadvantages, resistance and future of technology among other competitors are briefly described in the lower middle part of the essay. Finally we will briefly describe the conclusion of the essay by giving a bird's eye view.

1. Introduction of Organization and Industry

The definition of Organization is a social unit of people which is systematically arranged and assembled to meet a need or to pursue collective objectives on a running basis. All organizations have a management structure that determines relationships between functions and positions, subdivides and delegates roles, responsibilities and authority to carry out assigned tasks. Many corporations are trying to change and improve their business strategies to increase numbers of customers and profits, thus, there is Technology which is a way to change the figure of competition such speed of action and the character of leadership. (Kakakota and Robison 1999)

Uk garments and clothing market is playing an important and critical part in economy with contributing industrial output, import and export earnings and generating employment.With increasing cost of production, e.g., man power, land, natural resources many of the industrial outlets have moved to countries like China, India, Turkey, Bangladesh which are full of natural resources and with a cheap labour cost. Now most of the UK's industry and national garments chain outlets are relying on Import from other countries.

One such organization, which entered UK's garment market in 1990's with their quality, reasonably priced products and new selling ideas, grew as 150 stores in UK nationwide on high street. The Officers Club was founded in Sunderland, UK, by David Charlton. Company grew larger gradually by bringing new ideas in sales and promotions, variety in designs and crazy sale promotions e.g., 2 for £ 10, 2 for £20 or 70 % off. According to the company's own report, annual turnover for the company's flagship store was £ 5 million and for the London was £ 20 million in year 2007, with a work force of more than 6,000 people. Recently company swapped old retail software, website, company's local intranet with new touch system POS(point of sale) software, dynamic e-commerce and flash based website and faster network communicating software. (TimesOnline 2008)

2. Introduction of new Technology (Retail Software, E-commerce & Intranet)

Technology is about evolution and it is already pervasive in our lives and it affects us, both as consumers and as business people. Businesses and consumers continue to embrace technology and it has brought about evolutionary and revolutionary changes in the field. (Nye 2006)

2.1 POS (Touch based software)

Swapping old software to new one with more enhanced numeric, database, and network communication functions is going to bring many positive business changes to the organization. With the old information system they had to manually put the items code one by one into the machine and then through some complex procedures machine calculate and tells the total to pay. New software system reduced the time in long queues by scanning every single item, payment with cards is faster than ever before, efficient system of returning goods or refund, it's error free and quite user-friendly with a beautiful graphical user interface. New POS retail software holds a huge database for inventory, items code database and also tells either which other store keeps customer desired product or size. It also contains huge database of available products and sizes in nearby stores.

2.2 E-commerce based website

As technology moved most of the businesses on the internet. Electronic commerce is such a revolutionary change. With the old static website the consumers could just take a look on the limited number of products but there was not any concept of buying. E-commerce is conquering the audience throughout the world. The main advantage is that it has no defined boundaries, including time zone and country. Now, a vast array of goods and services are available just a mouse click away. The number of goods and services selling online are increasing every day. Company's new born online shopping website made shopping easy for people with busy life style and people living in far off towns and suburbs also. Website gives a huge variety of available clothes and sizes and tells the total price of shopping basket as like any other latest e-commerce website.

2.3 Intranet

With installing new intranet, BT line and Intel Atom Processor based communication device, communication is reliable and faster. It is also helping in merchandise and HR department by sending employee's hours and downloading contracts. Before all communication had to be done on phone or by post, which contained typing or printing errors and also delay of postage. (Sokolowski 2010)

3. Value Chain and Technology

Value chain is a systematic approach for a firm operating in a specific industry. It is such a process through a firm gains competitive advantage and increases share holder value. It is useful to separate the business system into a series of value-generating activities referred to as the value chain. Michael Porter introduced a generic value chain model that consists a sequence of activities found to be common to a wide range of firms. Porter identified two types of activities primary and secondary which are as shown in the following diagram :(MarketingTeacher 2010)

PORTER GENERIC VALUE CHAIN

Inbound Logistics

Operations

Outbound Logistics

Marketing & Share

Service

Firm Infrastructure

HR Management

Technology Development

Procurement

3.1 Primary Activities

3.2 Technology Management :

Technology is very important source of competitive advantage. Organizations have to do technological innovation to decrease costs, protect and sustain competitive advantages. It serves also in production technology, internatinal marketing activities, lean manufacturing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and many other technological factors. (Anderson and Kerr 2001)

Officers Club Management utilized benefits of Information Technology features by installing new POS(point of sale) barcode scanner software system to give quick, fast, reliable, error free calculation to the customers. Before a cashier had to put items code manually into the system and then the system tells u about the total, which is in fact a lengthy and there is possibility of errors as well. New software holds a large database of products and is connected to a distributed database to share information. Management brought in new software system and website and did cost reduction by reducing expenditures in telephonic and postal communication. They had to communicate via telephone before or post but now with a single click the letter is on the screen from head office.

3.3 HR Management

Now vacancies are advertised with two ways internal and external. Internal vacancies are displayed on store's local intranet and staff can apply jobs. Externally jobs are now advertised on the website, people can take a look on jobs available and they can apply straightway. Before jobs were advertised on shop window and people had to apply through references but now with new innovation everyone can apply online and it also reduced time and cost of HR department through telephone calls and correspondence. (MarketingTeacher 2010)

3.4 Secondary Activities

3.5 Inbound Logistics :

Products are received from a company's suppliers or manufacturer. They are stored until they are required on the production line. As Officers Club import garments from countries with rich in cotton and cheap labour cost, like China, India, Pakistan. Products are shipped and then are stored in inbound Logistics. (MarkeingTeacher 2010)

3.6 Operations

Products are manufactured or assembled here in this unit. Individual operations could include assembling, packaging of books/videos/games by an online seller. (MarketingTeacher 2010)

3.7 Outbound Logistics

Products are finished now after labelling and putting price on them, they need to be sent to wholesalers, retailers or final customers. It plays an important role in any organization. It decides which person needs what and how much. Officers Club has got quite a big Outbound Logistics. (MarketingTeacher 2010)

3.8 Marketing and Sales

Its mainly focuses on marketing communications and the promotions, quantity of the product and which retail outlet should have that. Officers Club Marketing and Sales department is working efficiently, these guys are responsible to bring the right price and right promotions to the consumers. Inter Branch Transaction IBT is one of the key element through marketing department see if one product is not selling in one outlet then they send in other place. (MarketingTeacher 2010)

3.9 Service

This section explains service installation, service after the sales, complaint from customers and training. As like any other UK retailer Officers Club is giving excellent customer service to gain more market and competitive advantage. Merchandise department decides the layout of the product, which includes designing windows display, installation of the product in proper place, where customer could reach and look easily. Officers Club believes in customer feedback, customers can give easily feedback about product, customer service, quality, promotions on the internet and telephone as well. Induction training is always given to new employees, which includes about health and safety, use of fire extinguishers, product knowledge, etc., (MarketingTeacher 2010)

4. Implementation of Technology and Organizational Change

Kurt Lewing's Change Management unfreeze-refreeze model is one of the easiest models for evaluating organizational or social change. This model was designed by Kurt Lewin who was basically a physicist then turned to social scientist. Because of his professional background, he used physical science analogies to help explain social phenomenon. (Kent, R. 2010)

We can describe Implementation of any product by an organizational change by Kurt Lewin three layers model, which is below :

UNFREEZING

MOVE

REFREEZE

(Lewin, 1951)

The Officers Club managers have thorough knowledge of consumer needs and requirements in the current era. Keeping any organization up-to-date and equipped with the latest technological ideas is necessity to all business. Company's Chief Executive, Marketing and Buying managers, Finance and IT technicians have in-depth information of garments products and ongoing market research, therefore they planned, designed, cost evaluation, kept an eye on market structure for their new change in technology and finally they implemented and launched inside the organization. Bringing the product into the market, increasing profit is not enough, advertisements plays a very important role to give a sketch of that product to the customer, which is very much achieved easily with the help of online websites, as almost every business has turned to e-business. An organization has to keep life-cycle of their product throughout the market, bringing new and brain storming ideas within the business. Customer feedback, advertising, competitor's products analysis also plays an important role to increase the demand of that product.

5. Manager's Role in organization

Company's CEO and as manager with brilliant leadership and staff motivation qualities David Charlton played a stunning leadership role. Charlton wanted to create an enhanced online shopping experience where designers could enjoy their shopping and view upcoming sales and promotions, which wasn't possible with old static information system. Chief Executive also wanted to upgrade the barcode operating system to overcome typing errors by entering items codes manually. There were many triggers which turned the brain storming ideas of managers, designers and dream of David Charlton into invention of new technology. Innovation, creating new ideas, looking after organization needs and maintenance according to the organization, market and consumers needs is the key invention and aim of The Officers Club Corporation.

6. External Triggers for Change

A good vision of the future commerce, competitors strategies and an organizational culture change, encourages technological innovation within organization. External triggers change any company's business technological needs, which are as follows :

6.1 Competition

High street fashion chain, Blue Inc. is a rival company of The Officers Club, which is almost can be seen in every town. Changing business to e-business, Blue Inc. and other retailers gave ideas of technology change to The Officers Club by enhancing their website and the touch system retail software. Officers Club's Designers added many new functions as compared to their rival Blue Inc. e.g., Buying Vouchers, sales and promotions like Buy now pay later, recruitment process and customer feedback.

6.2 Developments in Technology

Technology re-defined the basic concepts of business and the way business operates. The success depends on making the ideas realistic and commercialising it. Ongoing development in technology gave ideas to change in technology, equipped with modern business tools. With old information systems they had to wait for new updates from the head office, sometimes network router is out of order due to slow communication software but with the new software systems and devices they are able to communicate, send documentation and data to head office and other stores. The software is equipped with a remote device called router, infect router is a communication device, which a software uses to gain access to other network connected computers. So, development in technology did quite a lot help for boosting business and improved customer service in Officers Club by implementing new website and retail software system. Consumers can easily overview upcoming products and market structure, which is going to create a business boost for the company.

6.3 Research in Education

Throughout the research and development in technology, micro-chips industry and other relevant accessories, computer industry is getting dynamic and brainstorming ideas to develop new technology by increasing its functionality and reducing its volume. On job training, Cost Evaluation, Knowledge Management standard are all important features of education to increase implementation, creating and reinforcing product status in the market. An improved performance of manufacturing companies can be expected from tighter linkages between product and process innovation (Kim et al. 1992). “Managing this product-process connection is one of the top challenges of the era” (Ettlie 1995, p.1224).

7. Internal Triggers for Change

7.1 Appointment of new Top Management

As company's owner changed after December 2008, David Charlton became the Chief Executive of the Officer Club. David keeps a very deep information and knows all the nuts and bolts of garments industry. As coming in the power and gaining more approaches over the business he did quite a lot beneficial technological changes within the company. Launching brand new touch based software with enhanced bar code system, also equipped with the local intranet operating through British Telecommunication line is saving time and cost of other utilities like passing information on phone or by post.

7.2 New ideas of service deliverance

Company's CEO, changed higher management in company so many new faces came with bundles of brand new business ideas. Upon David Charlton Recommendation Company's staff recently joined a famous social website Facebook.com where millions of people come to share information. With arrival of iPhone mobile applications, sooner or later Officers Club's customers could start using iPhone mobile application as well. (Wikipedia 2010)

8. Advantages of new technology to organization

8.1 Time and Cost saving

First of all new POS (point of sale) retail software saves time of serving customers by quick scanning product, fast credit card paying process, less typing malfunction. Before customers had to wait long in queues to pay but now new software is saving time of customers and staff both.

8.2 Fast Communication

New software is equipped with an Intel Atom processor machine which is faster to communicate with head office to correspond electronic documents, Payroll stuff, inventory control, items databases, etc.

8.3 Online market

Ttechnologies are helping companies to innovate new business strategies and model through electronic commerce. Company's new technological website gives a complete overview of products, services and upcoming sales and promotions. Its also explain online procedures to apply jobs within the company, thus saving HR people time to correspond to the right candidate. Beside all these features it navigates you to the nearest store in your town.

9. Resistance within Organisation

9.1 Expensive

Making people to spend money is difficult in garments industry but giving them excellent buying environment is continuously money spending and costly procedure through merchandise, manufacturing, assembling latest technology features within the company. As company spent a huge amount of money to alter old data information systems to new but it needs continuous look after and maintenance through information technology technicians.

9.2 Limited Features

Only top store management can access intranet based application so information is limited to only top management. Lower staff would only know if they are informed from higher management.

10. Resistance in Future

With any new technology, new technologies are birthed around it. Because of this, we'll see innovations much more quickly. May be in near future we can expect a Iphone of Ipad based Officers Club mobile application. Recently NEXT clothing retailer launched their free downloadable iphone application to view and buy products, quick save of product information, location of nearest store and promotions.

Blue Inc. and Officers Club have some same level of products prices and quality. These two rival companies always advertise themselves through various channels like leaflets, online advertisements, shopping carriers and in the news as well. Sooner or later we can expect a new change from Blue Inc. clothing retailer in technology competing Officers Club by entering Iphone based mobile applications.

Finally if we take a look at future of Officers Cub conversion to new technology, there could be many threats from other competitors like Blue Inc., Mad House, Uni Qlo, with new competitive ideas to gain market. In this case, Officers Club has to maintain themselves with upcoming technology and changing climate of business industry.

11. Conclusion

The success story of Officers Club underlines its importance. The company which started with relatively brand innovative ideas of 70 % off sale, opened store on almost every high street in a town.

Knowing the importance of technology, the company developed a culture which fosters innovative ideas in technology change, following the policy of continuing innovation, company was able to maintain its first mover advantage and to recognize itself among other high street chains. Making place among other competitors and finding market is difficult but with the right visionary goals, creativity and innovation, usage of Knowledge Management standards they can overcome all the challenges to enter in garments industry marketplace.

But, as the consumer needs advances day by day, technology has to be a continuous process, and for this, it has to be integrated with the company's business strategy. Followers always find footsteps of the Leader. Though Officers Club developed an excellent web shopping experience, installation of POS (point of sale) retail software for easiness of employees which reduced time and cost, intranet based application to communicate to other stores and head office but they also leaving some traces for other competitors to develop same sort of technology or higher than that. Besides developing new technology or product, an organization has to give life fuel to its product and infrastructure throughout whole area of company to maintain its life-cycle. By shaping an excellent technological working tool, setting standards of its maintenance, advertising the complete product sketch to the consumers, no doubt an organization can achieve its goals and objectives.

12. References

E-books :

Anderson L., Kristin and Kerr, J., Carol(2001) Customer Relationship Management, McGraw-Hill, available on : http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DE2Pbd_qmgkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=customer+relationship+management&source=bl&ots=6-KvSKnwbI&sig=U6sQkpxASeKetqXBtHHGcx5J-fQ&hl=en&ei=f9jMS6KyKZD20wSilvDCBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false, [accessed on 10/04/10]

Nye, David, E.(2006) Technology Matters, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, available on : http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Z13wTdKzWBoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=technology&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=true [accessed on 10/04/10]

Books:

Kim, J.S., Ritzman, L.P., Benton, W.C., Snyder, D.L. (1992). Linking Product Planning and Process Design Decisions, Decision Sciences, Vol. 23, 44-60.

Ettlie, J.E., (1995). Product-Process Development Integration in Manufacturing, Management Science, Vol. 41, No. 7, 1224-1237.

Kent, R.(2010) Unfreeze/Refreeze A simple change model, available on : http://www.mansis.com/freeze.htm, [accessed on 18/04/10]

Web:

Electrical Resource(2010), available from : http://www.electrical-res.com/technology-department-mission/technology.jpeg, [accessed on 09/04/2010]
TimesOnline(2008), Power, H., Zavvi goes under in more High Street pain, available on : http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/retailing/article5393092.ece, [accessed 10/04/10]

Mailonline(2008), Laurance, B., Officers Club is latest to fall into administration, available from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/article-1101092/Officers-Club-latest-fall-administration.html, [accessed on 09/04/2010]

Marketingteacher.com(2010), value chain analysis, available from : http://www.marketingteacher.com/Lessons/lesson_value_chain.htm, [accessed on 10/04/10]

Personal :

Mazhar S., Manager: The Officers Club(Personal communication on 07 April 2010)

Sokolowski L., Manager: The Officers Club(Personal communication 08 April 2010)

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