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Retail Information Systems

    Retail Information Systems

    Photo of an old-fashioned wooden cash register.

    Retail information systems have evolved in similar fashion as business computing in general. More data has created the need for larger storage and faster processors. The need to give wider data access to more employees, so-called “data democratization,” has necessitated de-centralizing information platforms and increasing ease-of-use. We have seen platform evolution from mainframe systems to client/server to cloud and now to mobile platforms in retail information systems.

    Today retail information systems (RIS) vary in platform, cost, and functionality–and range from simple to complex. Simple systems can support point-of-sale (POS) transactions and keep track of sales activity. Complex systems, designed for large enterprises, can manage all aspects of the business: POS, Supply Chain, Finance, HR, CRM and more. Whether simple applications or complex systems, modern retail information systems all utilize databases and provide access to stored data through Graphical User Interfaces (GUI).

    POS informs retailers of the details of sales transactions: what item was sold, where the transaction occurred, at what price, what employee performed the sale, and information about the customer making the purchase. Supply chain management systems (SCM) track the origin of the product even before it arrives at store or warehouse (and will be discussed in more detail in the next section). Financial data systems provide management with data concerning the organizations profit and loss factors. Human resource systems (HRS) keep track of employees: status, title, employment type, salary, address, etc. Customer relation management systems (CRM) track customer information and will be discussed in a later section.

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