The Adoption and Implementation of Consumer-Facing In-Store Technology in Fashion Retailing: Managerial Perspectives

  • Francesca Bonetti

Student thesis: Phd


Digitalisation has revolutionised retailing and this has spurred retailers to adopt consumer-facing in-store technologies (CFIT) and the related broader technological side, to enhance the shopping experience and for competitive advantage. CFIT are technologies that the consumer experiences directly whilst in-store, such as digital signage, AR and VR, push communications, Wi-Fi provision, tablets, virtual fitting rooms, etc. Although research on the adoption of innovative technologies in retail settings is growing, issues related to approaches to change management concerning technological strategies for CFIT and the related elements, processes involved in technology implementation and how people manage issues of technological change have been under researched. This study critically evaluates managerial perspectives on the hybrid nature of technology agility in the fashion retail sector. While much of the existing research on technology adoption pursues a quantitative design, it is recognised that there is a need for more interpretivist-led studies to achieve deep understanding of rapidly evolving managerial mindsets and behaviours in the digital age. This study adopts a qualitative approach, where data was gathered through semi-structured in-depth interviews with key industry informants drawn from fashion retailers operating across varied market positioning, technology providers and strategists, for a total of 67 senior informants. The data analysis follows an established inductive process of applied thematic analysis. Three core themes were established. The first theme is associated with reasons for levels of change embracement and CFIT adoption. Findings reveal that these may be related to marketing and brand promotion, to generate PR buzz. This suggests a more tactical motive, where CFIT implementation may be a short-term initiative, with more visible technology. Other reasons relate to innovative vision and mindset as part of the company's longer-term business strategy, culture and internal push, where technology tends to be fully integrated into back-end system infrastructure and operations, to provide a front-end technology and service to the customer. The second theme therefore concerns status and type of technology assimilation, depending on the reasons for change embracement. The third theme is associated with processes of change and implications involved in the implementation of CFIT and the broader technological aspects. These are multiple and complex, and unique to each organisation. A strong level of change embracement supports a higher status of technology assimilation, which translates into a strong impact on processes. In contrast, more temporary and superficial technologies related to tactical motivations result in weaker technology implementation processes. This study contributes to the strategic management and retail marketing literature by providing in-depth analysis and evaluation about the adoption and / or implementation of CFIT and the broader technological aspects within fashion retail organisations. This includes an anatomy of the different approaches to change management concerning technological strategies. This study also provides a classification of type(s) of technology that retailers may undertake based on the reasons for technological change embracement, and provides comprehensive insights into the management of organisational processes and issues of change involved in technology implementation. Change concerns therefore the strategy and delivery of the CFIT marketing phenomenon within organisations. Furthermore, the study provides managerial contributions for a set of stakeholders, by providing guidance for making informed decisions concerning technology adoption, and overcoming transformational barriers. Overall, this study highlights that a strong degree of technology integration into the business is needed, as retailers need to innovate to survive in response to changing market trends and inc
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPatsy Perry (Supervisor) & Stephen Doyle (Supervisor)


  • Technology Agility
  • Managerial Processes
  • Consumer-Facing In-Store Technology
  • Retail Innovation
  • Technological Strategies

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