An exploratory study investigating the potential threats and opportunities resulting from technological transformation in retail sector
Aim. This dissertation aim was to critically investigate the potential opportunities and threats resulting from the technological transformation in the retail sector. The study also identifies how technology influences employment within retail resulting in whether or not sales assistants could be replaced due to the increased development of digitalisation and automation. Methodological Design. The most appropriate method for carrying out this research report was considered qualitative analysis. This approach helps the researcher to perceive the experience from the perspective of the individual. It helps to acquire an in-depth analysis of an individual’s thoughts and emotions alongside with clearer understanding of a situation or circumstance from the perspective of the person who is experiencing it. It is relevant to the researchers' aim of understanding whether certain roles will be replaced by technology in conjunction with the opportunities and threats that arise by gathering distinct opinions of experienced retail workers. Methods. In order to conduct primary research, In-depth semi-structured interviews were used as the research process alongside the convenience sampling method in order to contact the respondents. The requirement for the participants was to have valuable retail experience since some interview questions needed to be answered using knowledge acquired from working experience. Additionally, 18 and above demographic age and above was specified, however, no specific gender preferred. . The data was transcribed after the researcher interviewed six respondents including sales assistants and managers. The researcher was able to apply primary data obtained from the interview process and secondary data results gathered from the literature review allowed linking the findings to study aims and objectives. Findings. Overall, the findings of the collected primary data show that technology has brought unique opportunities in the retail industry that availability of smart technologies are already being used in retail, ranging from iPads to self-service checkouts. Technology has benefited the retail industry by increasing staff productivity, making interaction simpler, delivering a unique consumer experience, decreasing pressure, and making the work of a sales assistant even easier. The participants are confident about sales assistants' potential future prospects, considering that they will not be replaced by technology. Sales assistants will continue to be needed as technology progresses alongside the decision that online roles will be available in the future. Participants explained that sales assistants help improve sales, offer a unique customer experience, resolve technological errors, maintain human interaction. As a result, technology cannot achieve any of the tasks; therefore, retailers cannot over-rely on technology yet.