The use of an information management system to enable major oil companies to build a business strategy to allow for differentiation within the forecourt convenience store industry within Cape Town area.
Naidoo, Alvin Calester.
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This is a quantitative study that focuses on the lack of differentiation within the forecourt convenience store industry within Cape Town area and the use of an information system to build a differentiation strategy for major oil companies. A critical literature review was conducted to provide a theoretical framework for this study. The literature provided a foundation for the study and revealed that previous researchers have found that it is vital to differentiate within the retail industry due to the highly competitive nature of the industry. It was also made evident in the literature that companies need to become knowledgeable about the customer, the store attributes and products that can contribute to developing a differentiation strategy. Previous researchers recognized the value of having a robust information system that can provide key information required for the strategic planning process of retail companies. The literature review assisted in placing this study in context and preparing for the collection of primary data to answer the research questions. The Chevron retailers within the Cape Town area participated in the study and responded to a questionnaire that focused on the value of differentiation and information systems within the convenience store industry and the subsequent effect it has on the profitability and brand equity of a company. The survey strategy was chosen as the most applicable research method and the findings from the analysis of the data shows that the retailers are in strong agreement that differentiation will enable an oil company to rise above the competitors within the forecourt convenience store industry and also agreed that an information system is required to provide the critical information to assist in developing a differentiation strategy. There appears to be a strong positive correlation between differentiating and an information system from the responses received from the sample of retailers. From the synthesis of the results the most important factors that can be used to differentiate in the industry are store location and customer service. It was also found that the information system must contain data on customers, store attributes and products. This is seen as important ingredients for the strategic planning process and this information will ultimately contribute to an increase in profitability and brand equity if used appropriately. The recommendations made to an oil company that operates within the forecourt convenience store industry are to focus on strategic store locations and customer service to increase profitability and brand equity. Additionally a back-office system must be implemented that enables the capture of pertinent customer, store and product information. It was also recommended that a further study be undertaken using qualitative data gathering techniques and the scope to include the entire convenience store industry in South Africa.