Let us take for example the way information about groceries bought by consumers can be used in a retail outlet. In corner shops the proprietor often operates the till and once the customer has paid for his or her purchases the only record of the transaction is on the till roll – to all intents and purposes inaccessible.
It is of little consequence though because the proprietor is close enough to the action for decision making and knows roughly what the day’s taking are, how many customer have been served and whether there has been a run on a particular item.
In the supermarket, however, there may be 30 checkout operators and 10 000 or more different lines stocked. At peak times, purchases may be leaving the supermarket at a rate of 40 000 items per hour. Stocks of each line must be reordered to arrive at the rate of consumption or changing demand for particular lines caused by promotional; activities or food scarce could be easily lead to empty shelves to throw away ‘till roll’ data collected for the primary purpose of calculating how much to charge the customer.
Once collected it must be used again for stock control, a secondary use. And that’s not the end of the story. Information is expensive to collect, but once held in digital form it costs next to nothing to store and so can be freely used over and over gain for a variety of secondary purpose.
For instance, till roll data collected over a period of months or years can be analyzed for long term trends and presented graphically to aid in forecasting and strategic planning.
Till roll data becomes valuables for direct marketing when linked to particular customers who presented a loyalty card. Customer who buys cat food may be interested in special offers in cat litter, and those who buy diapers may try a new range of baby foods. Their addresses are known, so they can be targeted for mail shots customized to their life styles and preferences.
Managing Information: Accessible Filing