Technology and Public Policy: The Preconditions for the Retail Revolution

Frederick H. Abernathy and Anthony P. Volpe

in The Market Makers

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199590179
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724893 | DOI:
Technology and Public Policy: The Preconditions for the Retail Revolution

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In this chapter, Frederick Abernathy and Anthony Volpe demonstrate the dual impact that technological innovations have had on retailing. Some innovations enable retailing by indirectly providing services—for instance, the effect of containerized shipping on global sourcing. Other innovations directly transform retailing by changing standardized practices—for instance, the effect of information technology in the development of lean retailing techniques. Both types of technological innovations have had profound effects on many dimensions of retailing, including merchandising (that is, product mix and variety), retail formats, services offered (including payment), and supply-chain management and sourcing strategies. Most of these major technological innovations first occurred in other sectors of the economy, but retailers have been able to utilize them for their own advantage, either directly or indirectly, in selling products. Some examples include the development of railroads and improved ocean transportation, which allowed retailers to expand the geography of their supply base efficiently. The shopping mall and “big-box” retailers were dependent on the automobile and the interstate highway system, to bring them both their customers and their products. Innovations such as bar codes and checkout scanning, plus payment by credit or debit cards, would be impossible without the revolutionary changes in computer hardware and software.

Keywords: retail technologies; retail channels; charge cards and credit; bar codes and scanning; disruptive technologies; railways and postal delivery; suburbanization; shipping and containerization; lean retailing

Chapter.  12190 words. 

Subjects: International Business

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