The Effects of Technology-Based Self-Service on Grocery Retail : A Swedish Case
Technology based self-service (TBSS) used in supermarket self-scanning checkouts is a relatively new phenomenon in Sweden. Studies on TBSS as a self- checkout device have been formerly carried out but with focus on the customer perspective. The authors therefore saw a challenge in covering the self-scan checkout concept, from a company perspective. The purpose of this research paper is to investigate, through a management perspective, the changes brought about by implementing an innovative TBSS system in Swedish supermarkets, and its effect on the competitiveness of the company. This is done by presenting and linking the theoretical framework and empirical study in the research. The theoretical framework of the paper includes the following topics: role and importance of innovation in a business context and TBSS as innovation as well as product life cycle connected to innovation; competitive advantage theory and complementary concepts, value chain theory, and finally the importance of customer relationship management in the ‘new’ self-service economy. The empirical study consists of two Swedish supermarkets in the city of Linköping, Coop Forum and ICA Maxi. Results of the research paper mainly include the following: Changes brought about by implementing technology-based self-service systems in supermarkets must be discussed in the view of short-term and long- term perspectives separately. Changes involve the value creating activities of supermarkets and include increased quality of services to customers. It has been further found that TBSS can add to the competitiveness of supermarkets. However, positive financial results can only be expected in the long-term which in the case of Swedish supermarkets offering TBSS services is not yet apparent. The empirical findings have shown that Coop Forum and ICA Maxi had to carry out changes and make adjustments to their value activities and customer relationship management in order to operate TBSS checkouts successfully. Competitiveness between them has been also affected due to the TBSS service offering.
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