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Introduction - International Retail Industry
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With the increasing globalisation the international business has also increased to a greater extent. When the company is operating in an international business then quality management becomes one of the most important concerns. While offering products in the international sector, it is essential for the firms to manage the business operations in an effective manner (Apedo-Amah et. al. 2020).
In this study the researcher would be focusing on explaining about the issues related to operational management that are faced by the firms operating in the retail sector due to the covid-19 pandemic. For this, the research study will be focusing on Tesco, Sainsbury, M&S, Walmart and ASDA. These firms are having an effective market position in the international retail industry. For explaining the concept of operational management for the international retail industry, the report would consider different retail firms. In this report the researcher will be conducting primary research with the middle level and top level executives of the selected retailing companies.
The companies operating at international level face different issues while operating in a competitive and complex business environment. This research would focus on explaining the issues by the firms while operating in the international retail industry. Thus, it can be said that this would be an effective topic for understanding the complexities of international business management and how they are being addressed by the firms.
The covid-19 pandemic had created several issues for the businesses operating in diverse industries. Due to the travel restrictions and trade restrictions the businesses have faced a lot of issues related to the management of the business operations. Retail sector is one of the most important industries which is highly dependent on the global supply chain and due to this reason the industry is highly affected due to the pandemic (Kumar et. al. 2020).
Businesses operating in the retail industry have started facing issues while managing the supply and demand of their products and services. Disruptions in the global supply chain had created issues for international retailers to meet the demands of their customers across the globe. The top retailing companies operating in the international retail sector face different issues related to supply chain management, inventory management and other business operation management.
Logistic disruptions had created issues related to inventory management as well. So it can be said that it is important to understand how the retailers are managing these issues during the pandemic and even in the post pandemic era as well. This report will be focusing on explaining all such issues related to operational management by the international retailers in detail. The report is focusing on four different companies which are international operations and offering a wide range of products and services to the customers across the globe. This would help the researcher in explaining the concept in detail.
Aims and Objectives
The aim of the research study is to assess the operational management issues faced by firms operating in the international retail industry due to covid-19 pandemic.
To assess the supply chain management issues faced by the firms while operating at international retail industry during covid-19 pandemic.
To identify the strategies lined up by different retailing firms for solving the operational management issues.
To evaluate the different factors leading to operational management issues.
What are the different factors that have impacted the operation management of international retailers during covid-19 pandemic?
What are the supply chain management issues faced by international retailers during the pandemic?
What are the strategies used by the firms operating in the retail industry for addressing the issues related to operational management?
There are different research studies that focus on explaining different issues faced by international retailers related to operational management but the knowledge related to operational management issues is relatively less and unclear. The pandemic had led the world towards major transformation and due to this reason all the different industries are facing several issues. The retail industry is one of the largest industries and is highly dependent on the logistics and supply chain management (Luckstead et. al.2021). It is important to analyse how the retail industry has faced issues related to operation management in the pandemic. This is a recent topic so there are limited studies available on this topic. So it can be said that due to the time gap there are no such studies which have focused on explaining how the retailers have faced issues related to operational management during the pandemic and in the post pandemic era. Thus, this dissertation will focus on filling the time gap and will offer better knowledge related to operational management issues during the pandemic.
Rationale of the study
Operating in the international market is not an easy task as the company needs to manage the operations at global level. The retail industry is one of the largest industries. This topic is being selected because operational management is one of the most important business practices. These issues during the pandemic are the important topic related to operational management for the business (Marques et. al.2021). The pre and post pandemic era had major changes because the Covid-19 pandemic had transformed the businesses to a greater extent. Along with this, the new normal norms have made major changes in the business operation for the retailers as well as all other businesses operating in diverse industries.
This is important to understand how the pandemic has affected the retail industry and discuss the different strategies for addressing these issues. The companies have faced issues related to supply chain management, inventory management and logistics management due to Covid-19 pandemic (Richards and Rickard, 2020). It had become very difficult for the international retailers to manage the business operations due to these reasons. Trade restrictions had affected all the industries but higher influence of the pandemic had being observed on the firms which depended on the global supply chain. The businesses operating in the international retail industry are highly affected due to the pandemic. The chosen companies are managing the business operations internationally and this study will help in understanding how these firms have faced issues.
This section of the research study will be providing detailed knowledge related to the research topic. Literature review is the survey of the scholarly sources available on the specific topic. The knowledge gained from the literature review helps the researcher in understanding the broader aspects of the research topic. This also helps the researcher in providing the readers with all essential details and knowledge related to the research topic in detail.
Impact of Covid-19 on business operations
When the company is operating in the business environment it is essential for them to focus on managing the different factors affecting their business operations effectively. (Amankwah-Amoah et. al. (2021) had mentioned that the external environment of the company in which they are operating is having a major role to play for the businesses. The current issue of the covid-19 pandemic is an important event of the external business environment which had affected the businesses across the world to a greater extent.
Wilde et. al. (2021) had mentioned that the covid-19 is a major event related to the external business environment. This had created several issues for the businesses and affected their operations to a greater extent. The global pandemic had transformed the business operations to a greater extent. Due to the changes in the operation management, production changes, changes in working process in the workplace and in several other manners. The researcher had mentioned that effective strategies are required to be developed by the business for remaining competitive in their respective strategies. In the pandemic situation the businesses needs to make operational changes and manage them in an effective manner for continuing their business operations smoothly. The businesses can make better use of the technologies that can help them in managing the demand and supply of their products and business operations efficiently during the pandemic and in the post pandemic era. Automation can help the businesses in managing their production effectively during the pandemic. Along with this the companies can also work on reducing the higher dependence on the suppliers by producing the products by themselves with the help of better machinery.
Donthu and Gustafsson, (2020) had mentioned regarding the different fundamental changes which had taken place due to the covid-19 pandemic. The researcher had stated that the customer behavior, supply chain changes and changes in the routes to the market had affected the businesses to a greater extent. The study had mentioned that from the beginning of the pandemic the businesses across the world have started facing the worst effect of the pandemic on the business operations. Later on the trade and travel restrictions made the things worst for the businesses. The major suppliers and trade markets such as China, UK and others were having higher cases of coronavirus disease. Due to this the precaution measures taken by the local and national government had made it more difficult for the firms to run their businesses.
Sharma et. al. (2020) had stated that the supply chain issues were the major issues which were being faced by businesses during the pandemic. The companies across the world were not able to manage the demand and supply of their products and services due to the disruptions in their supply chains. Due to unstable demand and supply the companies faced financial crisis. The demands for some of the products have increased and other products have decreased so the companies have faced issues in managing the disruptions in the demand.
In support to this Roy (2020) had mentioned that economic slowdown due to pandemic had also affected businesses to a greater extent. The study had stated that the situation of complete lockdown during the worst time of the pandemic had led the businesses towards the great financial crisis. In this situation the companies had faced major issues in managing the cash flow constraints, payments of the employees and the suppliers and serving the bank interests. Along with this the stoppage of the production had created a long term impact of the pandemic on the businesses. Due to issues in the supply of the raw material the businesses have faced issues in continuing their productions and this further create issues related to demand satisfaction.
Curran et. al. (2021) had stated that the travel restrictions made by the local and national government is also a major factor that had created operational management issues for the businesses. The travel restrictions had disrupted the global supply chain as the supply of products is more possible between the nations. When the supply chain issues are faced by the firms then all the other business operations are also affected. The suppliers were not able to deliver the product on time and this had created issues related to delay in the delivery of the products. The government authorities had to make the strict rules for reducing the risk of spread of the covid-19 disease. But this had created significant influence on the firms to a greater extent.
Influence of covid-19 on Retail industry
Wolniak (2020) had stated that the effectiveness of the company depends on the ability of the firm to manage the business operations such as inventory, sales, production, supply chain management and many more. It can be said that operational management is very important for the businesses. Organisations need to focus on developing effective strategies and plan that can help them in operating efficiently. All the industries need to have effective management and interconnectivity among the different departments and business operations. The retail sector is one of the largest industries across the world. For a retailer it is crucial to manage the business operations efficiently.
Sayyida et. al. (2021) had examined the impact of covid-19 on the retail industry. The report had mentioned that the consumer behaviour, product demand, factory and logistic services and retail store operations are highly affected due to the pandemic. The study had mentioned that the fashion, furniture and electronics retailers are the ones which had faced a major decline in sales during the pandemic. The customers are focusing more on food and household supplies during the pandemic. The businesses had faced a major decline in their sales which had affected the financial conditions of the firm.
Mukherjee et. al. (2021) had mentioned that the retail industry is the worst hit industry due to the pandemic. The study had stated that the businesses operating in the retail industry had faced issues related to the different factors such as supply chain, changing customer pReferences and issues in meeting the demand. The study had mentioned that the retail sector will experience long term negative impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
Herath and Herath, (2020) had mentioned that he businesses would be facing issues due to the new normal norms which would bring major changes in the business processes. After the pandemic the things have changes for the businesses. In the post pandemic era the changes made during the pandemic would become new normal for the world. The social distancing and concern for healthy eating would continue in an long run. Along with this the different ways of doing the work in the workplace will also continue for avoiding the risk of any such disease in future. It can be said that the businesses operations and processes would be changed in the new normal.
Koch et. al. (2020) had mentioned that the retailers have to make major changes in their process of delivering the products and services to the customer. The social distancing rules will continue in the post pandemic era also and for maintaining this business have to manage their customers. The customers in the check-out lines have to maintain social distancing and this will create more issues for them. The retailers have to focus on using online payments and cashier check-out counters. The retailers have to focus on going online so that they can reduce the in-store purchase of the goods and services which is having higher risk of spread of the disease.
Hall et. al. (2020) had mentioned that the customer preference had changed to a greater extent due to the pandemic. During the pandemic the customers are focusing on buying the essential products only and trying to reduce their unnecessary expenses. Due to this reason some of the retail sector had faced sales down in the pandemic and some had faced issues in managing the demand due to operational issues. The situation or lockdown had affected the economic conditions of the people across the world. Due to this reason the expenditure of the individual had also decreased and this had created issues for the retailers because their sales had affected to a greater extent.
Galali (2021) had stated that the customers are now more concerned for their health and safety which had affected the food retailers to a greater extent. The food retail customers are now focusing on eating healthy food and buying the products from safe and hygienic places. Due to the changes in the customer behaviour the demand for the food containing bioactive ingredients had increased. In support to this Di Renzo et. al. (2020) had mentioned that buying behaviour of the customer had also changed to a greater extent in the pandemic. The study had stated that in the pandemic era the customers prefer to stay at home and buy the products through online mode. Due to this the retailers are focusing more on going online so that they can manage their sales in an efficient manner. Going online is not an easy task and this has made major changes in the business process for the companies.
Supply chain management issues faced by businesses operating in retail industry
Singh et. al. (2021) had conducted a research study for explaining the impact of covid-19 on the business operations of retail industry. The researcher had mentioned that the pandemic had changed the retail industry's external environment to a greater extent. The restrictions made by the government had affected the different retailers differently. The retailers of food and daily necessities have not face the worst economic impact on the covid-19 pandemic. But luxury products and non-essential good retailers have faced the worst impact on the pandemic. From this the report had concluded that the businesses operations of the retailers had affected differently according to the products which are being offered by them.
Hobbs (2021) had mentioned that the businesses operating in the food retail industry are affected greatly due to the pandemic. The food retail industry is highly dependent on the global supply chain for satisfying the needs of their customers. In the situation of the complete lockdown the government's request for the essential business continuity had created a major challenge for the food retailers. The travel and trade restrictions imposed by the government due to the pandemic had made it very difficult for the food retailers to meet the demands of their customers.
Barman et. al. (2021) had mentioned that food supply chain is one of the most important sectors of the economy. The study had stated that changes in the food supply chain due to the pandemic had created several issues for the retailers and suppliers both. The retailers are having a pressure to manage the demand of the customers and this has increased their concern for the food production, processing, distribution and demand meeting. In support to this Aday and Aday, (2020) had mentioned that the food retailers have faced major issues due to the closure of food production facilities. This is an important factor which had created several issues for the retailers in meeting the demands. In the pre pandemic era the global supply chain was helping the global retailers to get better supply of the raw material which is helping the retailers in managing their food production efficiency. But the restriction due to the pandemic had made the suppliers unable to deliver the raw materials on time. This had affected the entire production process and had created issues for the retailers in meeting the needs of their customers.
Alaimo et. al. (2020) had stated that meeting the demand of the customers is a major concern for the food retailers. But at the same time they are also concerned for the health and safety of their employees. Along with the employees, the health of their customers is also a major concern for the retailers. It had become significant for the retailers to ensure the safety of their employees during the crisis. This has created a major issue for the businesses as they have to introduce new safety measures at their production sites and have to keep their supply chains alive. The global retailers have a major responsibility to create a safe and reliable food supply chain worldwide and maintain hygiene so that high quality and safe food can be delivered to the customers.
Strategies used by the global retailers for managing the business operations effectively in the pandemic
Liguori and Pittz, (2020) had mentioned that the businesses are focusing on developing effective strategies that can help them in surviving the pandemic effectively. The retail sector had experienced a major impact of the pandemic on the sales. The companies are looking forward to managing the pandemic and remain competitive in their restrictions during the pandemic and post pandemic era. Businesses need to make changes in their operational management. It is essential for the company to focus on the health and safety of their employees in the pandemic situation. Along with this the company had to manage the business operations effectively for meeting the customer demands properly.
Palmer (2020) had conducted an study and prepared an report for explaining that how Amazon had managed the pandemic. Amazon is one of the top e-commerce retailer having effective position in the international market. The report mentioned that being an online retailers, Amazon had received better benefit from the pandemic. But the company had faced issues related to the issues in the global supply chain. The company had faced issues in delivering the products to the customers. The major issue for the company was that they are not able to meet their vaunted two day delivery. For addressing these issues the company had focused managing the operations related to inventory and warehouse for managing the operations in an effective manner. It can be said that in the hardest times Amazon had worked effectively for meeting the demands of customers across the globe.
Methodology is one of the most important parts of the research study (Snyder, 2019). The researcher needs to focus on making better strategic choices for the research so that high quality research can be conducted. In this study, the researcher would be focus on conducting a study based on primary data. The details of different methodological choices for the present study are mentioned below such as:
Research design is referred as the methods which are being used in the research for connecting the different sections of the study in a systematic manner. There are different types of the research designs on the basis of the research topic and aims and objectives of the study. Different types of research designs are descriptive, cross sectional, case study, experimental, phenomenological, grounded theory and narrative research designs. The researcher needs to select the research design which suits the research topic appropriately. In the current study the researcher would be using the descriptive researcher design. In this research design the researcher focuses on explaining or describing the situation or a particular population in detail. By applying this research design in the current study the researcher explains the situation faced by the retail firms during the pandemic and in the post pandemic era in an effective manner.
Research philosophy is the referred as the attitude and the thoughts of the researcher towards the research topic. It is important for the research to focus on selecting the best philosophy so that high quality research can be conducted. The research philosophies are being classified as pragmatism, intrepretivism, positivism and realism. The choice of the research philosophy depends on the idea and beliefs towards the research topic. For the current study the researcher needs to focus on using interpretivism research philosophy. In this philosophy the researcher needs to focus on observing the social world for gaining the knowledge related to the research study. This research philosophy is appropriate because this will help the researcher in understanding the different views of the research participants’ towards the study in an effective manner. The different mind-set and thoughts of the research participants towards the research topic are important. This would help the research in getting detailed knowledge regarding the research topic and conducting high quality research.
Research approach is referred as the plan and procedures which are being developed by the researcher for conducting the research. There are two different approaches which are generally used by the researchers for conducting the research such as inductive and deductive. In inductive research approach the aims and objectives are being followed while conducting the research study. On the other hand in the deductive research approach the unknown premises are bung tested after developing the hypothetical and those hypothesis are being tested. In the current study, the researcher will use inductive research approach for which the aim is developed for the study. The researcher will be developing the plan and following the steps for completing the aim. Along with this, the researcher will focus on answering the entire research question from the data which would be collected through the questionnaire survey. This approach suits well to the research topic because this would help the researcher in explaining the research in detail and discussing all the different aspects associated with it.
Research method is referred as the steps and the methods which are being used by the researchers for collecting and analysing the data in an effective manner. There are two types of research methods based on different approaches. There are two types of research methods which are qualitative research method and quantitative research method. In qualitative research methods the researchers focus on collecting the qualitative data. In this research, the researchers collect and analyse non numerical data (Mohajan, 2018). In contrast to this, in the quantitative study the researchers focus on collecting and analysing the quantitative data. The researcher needs to select best research method which suits well to the research topic. The current study is focusing on explaining the situation faced by international retailers during the pandemic and in post-pandemic era.
For this research topic qualitative method is more effective. The qualitative data would be more appropriate for the researcher in explaining that, what are different views of research participants regarding the research questions and topic. This will help the research in explaining the research topic in detail. In the current study, the researcher would be focusing on using qualitative research method for conducting the data. For the present study, the researcher will collect the data from the middle level and top level executives working in the retail firms.
Data Collection Method:
Data collection method is referred as the process that is used by the researcher for collecting the data. In the present study the researcher would be using primary data collection method. The data collection methods are broadly classified as primary and secondary data collection methods. In primary data collection method the researcher conducts the research themselves and gather relevant information related to the research topic. On the other hand in secondary data collection methods the researcher uses the published work and the literature for conducting the research study. When the researcher used primary data collection methods then there are different options available for collecting the data. The researcher can use surveys, questionnaire, interviews, field observations and experiments. It is very important for the research to focus on selecting the best data collection method according to the research topic and objectives. For collecting the primary data the researcher would be conducting questionnaire survey with the managers of different international retail firms that are operating in international retail industry. This will help them in collecting high quality, relevant and recent data related to the research topic in an efficient manner.
In the current study the researcher will be conducting a questionnaire survey for collecting the data related to the research. For interviewing the middle and top level executives the researcher would send the research participants official letter and consent letter. If the research participants would approve the consent letter then only they would be involved in the research study. After this, the researcher will be sending the questionnaire to the research participants for filling the questionnaire survey. When the responses would be collected then the researcher will focus on keeping the data safe and secure properly.
Sampling is one of the most important parts of the primary research. It is referred as the process of selecting the best research participants for the research study. There are different types of sampling methods such as simple random sampling, systematic sampling, snowball sampling and many more. In the current study the researcher will be using the simple random sampling method and will be selecting five research participants from each company. In this method, all the individuals would be having equal opportunity to get selected for the research study. This method will help the researcher in selecting the research participants easily without many complexities. Before involving the individuals in research study the researcher would be taking written consent from the participants. If they will approve then they will be involved in the questionnaire survey.
Data analysis is a method that is being used by the researcher for analysing the collected data in an effective manner. The data analysis method needs to be effective and according the type of data which is being collected by the researcher. If the researcher had collected numeric data which is quantitative data then the researcher need to apply statistical analysis. On the other hand if the researcher had collected the qualitative data then cross tabulation, trend analysis, thematic analysis and content analysis were being used for analysing the data.
There are different types of data analysis methods that can be used for the present study but, the researcher would be using thematic analysis. In this analysis method, the collected data is analysed and separated into different common themes identified from the collected data. The major behind selecting this data analysis method is that it is one of the most effective methods for analysing qualitative data. The researcher would be using the thematic analysis method by developing different themes. The researcher will be reading the collected responses effectively and then would be identifying the common themes or the common characteristics. When the common themes would be identified then the entire data would be divided on the basis of the themes. After this the researcher would be comparing the results of the research of the study with other research studies. This will help in identifying the accuracy of the research study and getting better conclusion related to the dissertation topic.
Ethical considerations are referred as the one of the most significant part of the research study. In general terms ethical considerations are referred as the set of principles which are being taken in concern by the researcher while conducting the study for not affecting the research stakeholders in any ways. It is viral for the researcher to focus on the respect and dignity of all the research participants and other stakeholders as well. While conducting the research the researcher needs to focus on ethical considerations for avoiding the legal issues related to research study. For conducting the study in an ethical manner the researcher will be focusing on different ethical considerations which are mentioned below such as:
For the safety and security of the research participants the researcher would be focusing on conducting the survey through online mode. In the covid times this is an better decision because face to face interview or questionnaire survey is not safe. Due to this reason the researcher had focused on conducting online questionnaire survey.
The researchers would take consent from the participants and will allow them to leave the researcher. The consent would be taken from the research participants prior to the research study so that ethical issues related to the ethical considerations.
Flexibility will be provided to the research participants. For this the researcher would be setting the time of the questionnaire according to the availability of the participants.
For keeping the data safe and secure the research would make sure that the data should be stored safely for avoiding the risk of data loss.
For avoiding plagiarism in the literature review section the researcher will focus on doing proper references and citations.
The researcher will also keep the data safe according to the data protection acts.
For conducting an high quality and authentic study the researcher will be following all the basic rules related to the research study made by the university.