Super Deal Electronics is a medium sized company with twenty-eight retailing stores that sell all types of electronics, computer solutions, software, peripherals, accessories and consumables in New Zealand. The company also has developed a good website where customers can get the information on the products and services and also do online shopping. In addition, customers can also order by a free telephone number which is manned by the company employees at the head office and customers can also request the mobile salesperson to visit them for too technical orders or business-to business transactions. Although the current system works well, there are some problems concerning the customers, employees, management and IT structure. Therefore as an independent consultant, this report will give the evaluation of the strength of these problems and highlight them in terms of importance and possible suitable solutions to these problems will be given.
Generally, the problems with Super Deal Electronics are mainly concerning its online shopping business. It current information system can not meet the e-commerce needs and the problems can be categorised into several groups such as customers, employees, management and IT structure.
2.1 Major problems
Customers are the important to the business organisation. To satisfy customers’ needs is the propriety task for the organisation, so does the organisation in e-commerce. For the company, the customers’ major problems are the convenience and security in using the company’s system. Customers always re-enter their username and password every time they want to use the online shopping and they have to repeat their details of a problem or sales over and over tot the different customers contact points to get a correct response. Besides, customers do not have necessary facility to track the status of the order. Therefore it is quite time consuming and frustrated to use the company’s online shopping. In addition, the security problems with the online payment also worry the customers and it is not usability in navigating the website. It is hard for customers to trace a services or quotation and the online customer service is poor.
The major problem with employees is that they can not satisfy customer’s need by the information provided by the system. Usually, too little information comes through the system to properly address the customers’ issues. And the system can not track or trace the customers’ order and behaviour over the web. The information of the despatch of orders from the company warehouse is communicated offline resulting in delay and web server also delayed some of the functions. So we can see that all these employee problems are caused by the system.
The problems of management are caused by the lack of information. Management does not have the detailed information about various dimension s of the web sites so that they can make improvement or decision. The website has been used since 1998 and the management has too little information regarding the web sties. In addition, because of the less co-ordination with the back end system and the customer contact points, the decision support system does not work effectively, so the management can not make decisions effectively.
2.1.4 IT structure
The IT structure of the company is old and can not satisfy the development of e-commerce. The company has an ERP system, which was built in 1990s, takes care of most of the back-end functions of the company. The present IT structure is VPN that use the Internet as the main backbone supplemented with firewalls and other security features. All the stores of the company are connected to the central IT office at the head office that has a web serve where the portal is hosted. So the IT structure hinders the development of e-commerce of the company.
2.2 Possible solutions
E-business model is different from the traditional business model by three distinct features: it can be accessed to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it can have global business while eliminating and it can act as the middle man who acts like a broker and a distributor. (Export Knowledge) Therefore because of the problems the company current has, we can see that the major cause of the problems is the system the company has. So we suggest the company to update or build a new information system and focus on the e-services, that is try to satisfy customers online.
2.2.1 Information system
Currently, the company uses an ERP system built in 1990s and its IT structure is VPN. ERP system is the backbone of the e-business, it is a cross-functional enterprise system that serves as a framework to integrate and automate many of the business processes that must be accomplished within the manufacturing, logistics, distribution, accounting, and finance and human resources functions of a business. (O’Brien 2003) So the company should update its ERP system. A VPN stands for the virtual private network and it is a secure network that uses the Internet as its main backbone network, but relies on the fire walls and other security features of its Internet and intranet connections and those of participating organisations. (O’Brien 2003) As the company focus on the connection security, information control and distribution, therefore it may use the client/server networks as the information architecture. The client/server networks defines each end users as the clients and they are connected to local are networks and share application processing with network servers. The server has the function of share computation, application control and distribute databases. With this IT structure, the company will have a central database control, a secured network and it can achieve the function of heavy-duty processing. So this client/server network is economical and flexible than the traditional legacy systems in meeting end user, working group and business unit needs. In addition it is more adaptable in adjusting to a diverse range of computing workloads.
A successful customer services usually have three features reliability, responsiveness and relationship. It is same for the e-service in e-business era. (Chudasama 2004) Therefore, the company should also focus on the customer relationship management. CRM uses information technology to create a cross-functional enterprise system that integrates and automates many of the customers serving process in sales, marketing, and product services that interact with a company’s customers. (O’Brien 2003). Therefore, at present, the company lacks an effective CRM and a lot of customers can not be satisfied by their online shopping, products and services. In e business model, e-services are technologies enabling the business to achieve functions easily. The company should depend on e-service to draw an excellent delivery model using these technologies to provide reliability, responsiveness and more than anything long term relationship to the customers. The services tools can be either e-mails or online customer support, download invoices, details or brochures, toll free number, frequently asked questions, call centre and online payment. However, other means of telecommunication is also used, so e-service becomes necessary for marketer and companies. IT solutions look e-service as new generation solution and e-service’s key solution includes effective use of CRM. Therefore for the management of the company, it should have the e-service management with following features:
* Knowledge management: give solution, and answers to FAQs
* Request management: fulfil the service, plan the resource
* Live customer support: customer service representative make call to customers, write emails to customers
* Account self-service: user name and account administration, account status maintenance and details
* Installed base management: installation management, warranty management
* Complaints and returns management: deal with customers complaints in time and give right reply
* Billing and payment online payment and online invoices. (E-service: satisfying customers online)
Therefore, with the features achieved, the company will solve its current problems with customers, employees, management and IT structures.
Above all, the Super Deal Electronics is a successful e-business company but has some problems with customers, employees, management and IT structure. The origins of these problems are caused by it inappropriate information system. Therefore with the update of it system to client/server network and focus on e-service CRM, the company will solve its current problems.
Expert Knowledge, retrieved on 4th October 2005 from world wide websites http://expertanswercenter.techtarget.com/eac/knowledgebaseAnswer/0,295199,sid63_gci1053510,00.html
O’Brien James (2003) Introduction to Information Systems, essentials for the e-business enterprises, eleventh edition, international edition, McGraw-Hill Irwin, McGraw-Hill Company Ltd, New York, USA
Chusasama, Jayesh (3/25/2004) E-business: Satisfying customers online, Course notes