Big Middle retailers serve the mass market composed of mainstream consumers and face competition from both other Big Middle retailers and specialized (niche) retailers that want a share of the Big Middle consumer market. How can Big Middle retailers leverage technology to strengthen their competitive position? The authors explore this question by offering a framework for characterizing the Big Middle and a consumer-based taxonomy for classifying technology strategies in the retailing arena. In particular, the authors emphasize the following key points: (1) most technological advancements in retailing in the twenty-first century will relate to information technology; (2) many technologies have the potential to both cut the cost of retailer operations and enhance service to customers; (3) the adoption of these technologies requires significant upfront investments; (4) successful retailers in the Big Middle are in the best position to adopt these technologies because of their deep pockets and because they can pass on part of the costs to their vendors; (5) Big Middle retailers must take a longer term view with respect to returns on their technology investments; and (6) Big Middle retailers should consider consumers' reactions to these technologies and be cautious about "overengineering." In this regard, this editorial points to several directions for further research in the realm of technology investments by retailers.
- Big Middle retailers
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