This blog will examine the differences between data and communication. Furthermore, it will examine information on the company activities of Waitrose and other grocery retailers taken from Key Note reports and explore how Waitrose could utilise such data to increase its effectiveness as a company. In order to analyse Waitrose, this blog will begin with an explanation of the differences between ‘data’ and ‘communication’, supported theories taken from journals and books, as well as the author's personal experience in a retail store named Gilly Hicks.   

Keyton defines communication as ‘the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another’. However, Mehrabian mentions that the process of communication is difficult because in order to have a successful communication process in an organisation, staff need to be more self-aware and better acknowledge how they impact others and the way others perceive them. According to Lee-Davies, society can communicate in two different ways: verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication is made via telephone, face-to-face, television and other media, whereas non-verbal communication consists of gestures, body language, how people dress and the way they act. One example of effective communication between managers and colleagues was utilised at a boutique store the author of this essay used to work at named Gilly Hicks. This involved holding a 10 minute group meeting before opening the store to keep all team members informed and discuss the different aspects that needed to be accomplished to reach the company’s sales target. This helped the author and managers to express their own needs and concerns.  

Data is defined as a systematic approach to collect, analyse, interpret and measure facts, such as words, numbers or even just descriptions of things. Data can be gathered from various sources such as observation, questionnaires, surveys and interviews. ‘Business data’ is a term that refers to the collection of data about business rules, people and events that are related to functional businesses. Furthermore, business data use statistics to aid current business performance and forecast future prospects. For example, in the Gilly Hicks boutique, there was an information board outside the office, which was updated regularly by managers to keep up to date the past week’s income and by how much they were aiming to improve sales the following week. Other content on the board included health and safety information and the contact details of managers. This helped all members stay informed and aware of any changes and decisions made in the organisation.

Waitrose could utilise the data in Key Note’s Home Shopping and E-Commerce: The Internet Grocery Market reports to enhance its effectiveness and satisfy its consumers. E-Commerce: The Internet Grocery Market details how Waitrose has improved its effectiveness; for example it created its own separate online shopping service in 2011, as well as a click and collect service, despite Waitrose having been in a longstanding partnership with online grocery retailer Ocado since 2000. Waitrose now offers home delivery from 168 stores and click and collect service available from 217 branches, including John Lewis boutiques.   

According to E-Commerce: The Internet Grocery Market, Waitrose is currently focusing more on its click and collect service. This would be prudent as the research in Home Shopping indicates underlying issues with home delivery. Home Shopping reveals how the volume of parcel deliveries in January 2015 was 9.5% higher than in January 2014, largely due to the popularity of home delivery. However, because of this high popularity, online retailers have been unable to keep up with demand; according to Home Shopping, 16% of UK shoppers did not receive orders in time in 2014, especially during the festive season. Also, there were difficulties in home delivery because employees at online retailers lacked the confidence to fulfill orders, partly because employers were not communicating successfully in order to motivate their staff and collaborate to find solutions to this problem. The uncertainty surrounding home delivery has seen a resultant surge in click and collect services, which are more effective and preferred by customers as they do not have to pay for postage and packaging or face concerns their order will not arrive.

Waitrose is indeed now focusing to offer more click and collect services. Moreover, E-Commerce: The Internet Grocery Market states that Waitrose was the first supermarket to have click and collect lockers in different locations for its online grocery service. Shoppers can now collect their purchases from these lockers, which are located at Chorleywood and Ickenham London Underground stations, and will be soon available in Gatwick Airport. E-Commerce: The Internet Grocery Market indicates that it would be beneficial for Waitrose to keep focusing on click and collect; competitive pressure from rivals is a major factor — Sainsbury’s is now offering click and collect services to over 1,000 stores nationwide.

Overall, Waitrose’s development of click and collect is broadly in line with the market trends indicated in Home Shopping and by doing so it has increased its company effectiveness. Growth in click and collect could also likely not have been accomplished without strong internal communication skills, to ensure employees are motivated and confident when entering into a new sales process.

Key Note would like to thank Chi Maher, a Business Management lecturer, and all of her wonderful students at St Mary’s University Twickenham, London, for taking part in our research article writing competition. It was tough to choose a winner from all the fantastic entries!

We’d like to thank all of the other entrants to our competition. Their articles were insightful, and they showed that they understood how to do scholarly research using www.keynote.co.uk.

Karolina Landivar Ruiz is a current student at St Mary’s University, studying for a BA in Tourism Management. She was the runner up in the competition and we felt her piece was interesting and gave some great examples of data, information and communication.  We felt that she used her own experiences to give a different perspective, which was refreshing.

Karolina's goal is to work in the human resources department in a well-known company, but would also be interested to work in other departments, such as Marketing. She will be travelling to South Korea in 2016, spending July learning the culture and Korean language in the Catholic University of Korea. The author is also interested in searching for a summer internship in 2016 in order to help her gain some work experience. Her hobbies are to volunteer in Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, read newspapers and non-fiction books and attend gymnastic classes at her university.