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External Communication

External communication is communication with people outside the organisation. An example could be with customers or suppliers. This type of communication will be formal because the business will want to present a good image for itself. Businesses use ICT in a number of ways. Some businesses use it for online shopping. Here products are ordered online and paid by credit card. The products are then delivered to the customer. Online shopping is used extensively by Tesco’s customers and other grocery businesses. Books, music, and holidays are the most popular purchases made over the Internet.

Boots provide online shopping but it is not used as extensively as Tesco’s is. Whether the kind of products-health and beauty products will become popular is uncertain. The customer for example wanting to buy a lipstick or a perfume may prefer to visit the shop in order to find out and try out a range of products. Pharmaceutical products are also unlikely to be suitable for online shopping and will require customers to visit the shop partly because prescriptions drugs have to be checked by the pharmacist. One of the advantages of online shopping is that goods can be sold easily throughout the world.

It is a very quick and efficient method. One of the disadvantages for the customer is the possibility of fraud. This could in turn affect businesses because if customers don’t feel happy using credit cards on the internet then online shopping will not expand. The internet can reduce business cost. It reduces the costs of overheads. However whether this would be the case with Boots plc is not certain as the shops need to be kept open and properly staffed. Businesses such as Boots would be able to advertise on the internet and this would reduce the need to produce brochures.

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It is possible to see how Boots is increasing the use of internet for this purpose. Another area where cost can be saved is by reducing staff as fewer premises are needed. The businesses that are most likely to benefit from the internet are those whose brand image is known and trusted. From this point of view Boots has an advantage as it is well known and trusted by the public. Businesses that are not known may find it more difficulty to establish themselves unless they have a new product to promote. All products in Boots will require a bar code.

A bar code is a pattern of parallel bars and spaces which carry information in the width of these features. These bar codes represent information in a readable form. If a customer decides to buy a product from Boots then the bar code on the product will be scanned into the electronic machine. This will show Boots what products are being bought the most and will help Boots to know how much stock is needed. The picture below shows how a bar code looks like. Communication with customers may now be easier. It is easier to keep and retrieve old letters and templates of standard letters can be kept.

This has to be used with care as customers may not like receiving letters which look as if they are personal but are just standard letters. This kind of thing can put customers off. The wide spread of use of mobile phones and pagers has made a difference to communication within Boots and with Boots communication with its customer. Suppliers of Boots Plc may also use mobile phone to ring the store about delivery times. In large stores quick and easy communication can take place between managers without a need of a public address system.

‘This is a staff announcement’. Customers also find it easier to ring stores either if they have a complaint or if they are enquiring about the availability of products. All major businesses including Boots will use computers to keep accounting records so increasing efficiency and reducing costs. The use of E-mails can also improve communications with suppliers. It is cheaper than letters and phone calls and is immediate. Internal communication is communication between employees inside a business. This type of communication is likely to be informal.

There are two types of communication which can happen within internal communication and that is between people on the same level and with other departments. Businesses use ICT for internal communication and for communication with other businesses. This provides a quick and cheap method of communicating. Boots has a sophisticated internal communication setup. In the first place it has established an Intranet. An Intranet is a private corporate network similar to the Internet but confined to the company. The purpose of setting up an Intranet is to help management within Boots Plc share information such as data, documents, files, and memo’s.

This can help the efficiency of Boots because information can be shared quickly and easily between departments or even between members within the same department. Another advantage of the Intranet is that information can be shared using the company’s own computer network. A third advantage is that the Intranet can be used to provide training for employees. The intranet allows Boots to design its training programme to meet the needs of individuals and groups and provides the opportunity for interactive training.

The big advantage of the Intranet over the Internet is that the latest technology can be used without worrying about different download times and it allows trainees to submit questions and comments at any time during the training session. One disadvantage of the intranet for training purposes that it can become expensive to maintain and upgrade. Boots Plc has a sophisticated video conferencing setup. This allows representatives of departments in Boots to discuss important issues without having to meet at one place. This saves a considerable amount of time.

However there are issues that can be only satisfactory discussed in a face to face meeting. The picture below shows an example of videoconferencing. This will be done in Boots Plc. MIS systems are also a source of internal communication. This is basically a data bank that is only accessed by managers of Boots. It is made up of number of files which consist of important data that has to be regularly updated. Managers can use this system to create their own models which then are built into the system. This can then help managers to think about the decisions they are making.

Open Communication & Restricted Communication This type of communication is when information is placed where everyone can have access to it. This type of information would be placed on a notice board or in posters. They are also internal communications because they are intended for the employees in a business. The sort of things that might appear on the notice boards is dates, and information about holidays. Restricted communication is information that is only meant for a selected group of people. Examples of this would include presentations.

Large stores such as Tesco, Boots, and Sainsburys now make use of loyalty cards. Boots uses an advantage card. Customers without realising it provide Boots with a great deal of information about their shopping habits- their likes and dislikes and the time of year they are most likely to purchase particular items. This database helps Boots plan for the future ensuring that the right product is in the right place at the right time. Another general disadvantage for businesses is the cost of setting up new systems, updating them and training /re-training staff.

With a big business like Boots this is not a major disadvantage as the savings outweigh the cost of new technology. Another disadvantage is the problem of hackers and viruses. This affects not only external ICT communication but it can also affect internal ICT communication. This type of information is important as it gives the details of Boots for example telephone numbers. This type of communication will be between the customers and Boots. If customers have an enquiry they can either phone Boots head office or they can also contact the customer care team.

Boots Plc also provides an email address in which customers can write to regarding enquires. If customers have a problem about the Boots advantage card there is also a contact number which the customer can use. One advantage of contacting these numbers is that customers will get their answer regarding enquiries straightaway; however writing to them may take up to a week or maybe more. This is one of the disadvantages of postal mail. Boots Plc offers a range of methods of contacting them. This is a very good communication between the customers and the company. Suppliers will also be able to use this information.

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