Mobile technology for the management of Retail-Supply chain

Oct 24, 2018 | 0 comments

Oct 24, 2018 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Adoption of mobile technology for the management of Retail-Supply chain in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Abstract

This dissertation discusses the role of mobile technology in the context of pharmaceuticals supply chain management. Mobile technology is rapidly being adopted by various sectors including the medical industry in the line of pharmaceuticals. With the rapidly growing use of mobile devices, there has been a significant shift in the way suppliers and retailers approach business transactions. This paper seeks to address the management aspect of the retail supply chain, and how mobile technology has revolutionized the traditional methods of doing business. The objectives of this dissertation are:

  • To explore the importance of harnessing technology in strengthening drug supply chains
  • To determine the challenges of using the traditional supply chain management methods
  • To establish the mobile technology applications and information available for the retail supply chain companies in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya
  • To determine the constraints ineffective supply chain of income taxes and personal revenues. However, as much as the healthcare system in Canada is social and universal, the plan does not cater for drugs in Kenya.
  • To implement a pilot supply chain android and web application that simulates a platform for increased business productivity
  • To implement a pilot supply chain android and web application that simulates real-time data and an improved workflow

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

As competition intensifies in the market, many firms are beginning to understand that competition is not exclusive to the company versus company domain, but simply the phenomenon of a supply chain against a supply chain (Partridge, 2011). Increasing strategic importance, under these circumstances, to any company independent of sector or size, is to deliver goods and services, and information on time, in full and free of error to the customers or consumers. From forecasting of demand to raw materials sourcing, right through manufacturing and dispatching, supply chain visibility is becoming a vital facet of any modern operation (Rouse, 2010).

However, currently, the interconnectivity between different links in the supply chain is inaccurate and incomplete, every link in the supply chain being an individualistic entity in nature with various processes. This ultimately leads to poor visibility of products and transparency of stock across the supply chain. For the firms looking at diverse markets, the lack of visibility in their supply chain can result in tremendous revenue loss.

Every industry sooner or later faces the moment of truth when its major companies must rethink fundamentally about their supply chain. The isolated decision-makers in most businesses pursue transactional arrangements with their company suppliers. There is no real desire for pursuing efficiency gains, little effort for mutual improvement, and minimal communication. Constraints in regulations and tax structures that are favorable in a limited number of retail locations work in the favor of the industry. Steady profits are obtained from captive customers who are dependents on the products of the industry. All of these have made the process of changing the status quo unnecessary or even unpalatable. However, disruption often occurs, perhaps through changes in the demand patterns of the customer, breakthroughs in technology, or new, innovative, and more nimble rivals.

Virtually every retailing pharmaceutical business in Kenya is confronting a far more troubling and different business environment compared to the last few years. However, like any other business in other industries, these established retailing companies in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya must manage this disruption in a manner perceived as unorthodox and unfamiliar. They must view their businesses’ supply chain in a strategic light, new and a competitive advantage instead of an un-avoided cost embedded in their daily operations.

According to Enyinda, Mbah & Ogbuehi, (2010), in the old distribution model which is relatively simple and consists of the health to ensure the safety of prescribed drugs. This paper discuss the recall of tetrazepam drug companies, the retailers, wholesalers, and in some situations the insurers are facing an onslaught of new systems that are competitive. Private and public health plans increasingly rely on other third party pharmacies. Moreover, more efficient and direct alternatives to traditional pharmacy options for dispensing, such as mail-order and Internet have been adopted.

Enyinda, Mbah & Ogbuehi, (2010) pointed out that larger purchasers and hospitals including pharmacy chains and payors are increasingly negotiating directly for contracts with many pharmaceutical companies to purchase the drug for a specific period of time at set prices. These drugs are also purchased through tender processes. The tender approach according to Enyinda, Mbah & Ogbuehi, (2010) affects greatly the supply chain fluidity and management of capacity by driving the need for agility in operations, and in dealing with the fluctuating demand that is associated with the tenders.

With these challenges faced by the pharmaceutical retail businesses, one of the most powerful strategies available for them is to reinvent the supply chain. Most retail companies in the pharmaceutical industry are set up to stock drugs in high volume and not for agility. In consequence, supply chains in the Kenyan pharmaceutical industry were structured to avoid stock-outs, even if that meant having to maintain high levels of inventory and carrying costs.

As the pharmaceutical industry tackle the issue that is threatening their future, retail companies and business in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya must transform strategically their supply chain to facilitate profit and revenue growth. This means making their supply chain more flexible by streamlining it, so it can deliver or supply drugs efficiently to meet the needs of different market segments as cost levels that are competitive. This calls for the need for the adoption of technology particularly mobile technology in the retail supply chain management for the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya.

Mobile technology in Kenya has evolved over the years since the inception of mobile payment platforms like Safaricom’s Mpesa. The availability of affordable cellphones and smartphones has boosted this field of technology in the development of mobile applications that can be used by anyone that owns a smartphone. Since mobile and wireless solutions have become a part of our daily life, their simplicity, accessibility, and use of mobile applications have turned mobile phones into important tools for pharmaceutical retail companies. Mobile technology has become the main tool for logistics and connections to be able to manage the supply chains from anywhere and at any time. The adoption of this technology makes supply chain management efficient and very cost-effective. This also keeps in check the satisfaction of the customers as well as suppliers. The key element is to deliver products at the right time, at the right place with the least operational cost.

Mobile technology is enabling the creation and growth of the digital economy; both in the developed and the developing world. In the digital economy, mobile technology provides a global platform over which people and organizations can connect, verify identity, and transact. This foundation is reshaping how digital content and services are created and consumed.

Mobile connectivity has unlocked an opportunity to rapidly scale mobile-enabled services by connecting billions of people. At the end of 2013, there were 3.4 billion unique mobile subscribers worldwide. By 2020, the developing world will add another 880 million. Moreover, mobile broadband connections are currently at 2.4 billion globally will nearly double to 4.1 billion by 2020 (IDC, 2014).

Rising connectivity across the globe is fuelling the growth of Internet platforms such as Google, Yahoo, and Facebook. Small and medium-sized enterprises have also benefited from some emerging competition to existing Intervention Programs. BioMed Central Ltd, 2012. Internet platforms, for example, Twitter and Instagram. For entrepreneurs and innovating businesses in the developing world, the ubiquity of mobile technology provides a tremendous opportunity to fundamentally change the business landscape and the lives of the underserved. Where mobile infrastructure is already in place, scaling mobile-enabled services, even to underserved populations in rural areas, is not only physically plausible but also financially feasible (Habib, 2010).

1.2 Statement of the Problem

There is a growing appreciation in the literature on the importance of the adoption of mobile technology in supply chain management. However, much of the available literature is in developed countries. A reliable, timely movement of the pharmaceutical products and information up and down the supply chain can be used to characterize effective supply chain management, in the pharmaceutical industry. That is, from the delivery or destination point such as the hospitals, clinics, health posts, or pharmacies where drugs are dispensed to the higher levels in the hierarchy and back. Data from the product and service delivery points are the most significant and relevant to the supply chain managers to make well-informed decisions on what type and how much of pharmaceutical products and services should be delivered or provided. In Kenya, the logistic management system is paper-based, and therefore the right data does not normally reach the right people at the right time. For effective drugs supply chain, quantification, selection, procurement, distribution, and storage functions are equally significant and interdependent to ensure quality and good drugs are available promptly to the delivery pharmaceutical stores. However, the supply chains based on mobile technology offer the potential of accelerating the transmission of data to multiple stakeholders simultaneously hence reducing the burden of reporting. Less of the literature focuses on how mobile technology can be adopted in the retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya. In so doing, this seems to be pushing aside the importance of adopting mobile technology in supply chains. This study, therefore, aims to fill this gap by focusing on the supply chain processes, participants, mobile technology, and the benefits.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

1.3.1 Broad Objectives

The broad objective of this study is to investigate and examine more fully the advantages and benefits to retail supply chains in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya when mobile technology is adopted in supply chain management.

The Specific Objectives included:

  • To explore the importance of harnessing technology in strengthening drug supply chains
  • To determine the challenges of using the traditional supply chain management methods
  • To establish the mobile technology applications and information available for the retail supply chain companies in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya
  • To determine the constraints ineffective supply chain of income taxes and personal revenues. However, as much as the healthcare system in Canada is social and universal, the plan does not cater for drugs in Kenya.
  • To implement a pilot supply chain android and web application that simulates a platform for increased business productivity
  • To implement a pilot supply chain android and web application that simulates real-time data and an improved workflow

1.4 Hypothesis of the Study

H1: There is a significant difference in data transmission for retail supply chains using mobile technology compared to the traditional supply chains

H2: Mobile technology in supply chains provide all stakeholders with data access in real-time

H3: There is a significant acceleration inflow of information to and from delivery or dispensing stations to the supply chain managers

1.5 Justification

The roads that pharmaceutical drugs need to take are from the manufacturer as the source, to the patient as the destination. In some instances, the road is a short distance or a longer distance. For most patients in developing countries such as Kenya, this road is often long. The road begins from the manufacturer to the centralized medical warehouses, to the local suppliers, very small depots, dispensaries, health centers, and pharmacies. The long road is often bumpy with potholes. This study examined the challenges and problems to do with selection, forecasting, procurement, storage, inventory management, distribution, and shelf life in Kenya. The different ways, in which these challenges manifest at the level of the patient, ranging from understocking of the facilities or the facilities experiencing stock-outs, which endanger the lives of patients, and this compromises treatment adherence. Similarly, the facilities can be overstocked with subsequent drugs that have expired. By adopting mobile technology in supply chain management, can help in overcoming some of the problems and challenges in the pharmaceutical supply chain. Several mobile technology innovations and initiatives are assisting stakeholders in ensuring a more adequate supply of pharmaceutical products. Mobile devices can be used for the transfer of data and even mobile money services, specialized databases and software, and electronic tools can as well help, so long as the problems in the supply chain have been identified clearly. It, therefore, makes sense to address them in this research dissertation. This study will also enlighten policymakers and supply chain managers and is the kind of research dissertation to inform practice.

1.6 Scope and Limitation

The research was carried out in Kenya, both in Nairobi city, a cosmopolitan area with high literacy levels in mobile technology, and in Embu town, which is a suburb town that serves as the headquarters of Embu County. The technical language is likely to constrain the data collection process however, where necessary, a detailed explanation was adopted to facilitate the process.

LITERATURE REVIEW

This section focuses on the following: definition of supply chain management; mobile technology in supply chain management; the role of mobile applications in supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya, and finally summarize with a conclusion.

1. Definition of supply chain management (SCM)

According to Arsovski and Rankovic (2011), supply chain management entails the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, logistics management, coordination, and collaboration with channel partners. Collaboration partners include government agents like KRA, suppliers, brokers, and customers. It also means the process of service delivery and policy making. The experience, capabilities and thinking of makers of policy, and those individuals who have liability for planning, organizing, and controlling the flow of products and services from suppliers to consumers. A successful supply chain management gives retail companies a competitive advantage in the world of fierce competition. All the stakeholders in the chain should be taken into account when managing and coordinating a supply chain. The type of product or service and the ability of a business agent to contribute to the increase of product value at reduced costs determine the number of links in the supply chain. The objective of SCM is to be able to have the right products and services in the right quantities at the right moment at a minimal cost. SCM is characterized by three main flows: product flow, information flow, and finances flow. Product flow includes the movement of goods and services from a supplier to a customer as well as any customer returns. Information flow entails transmitting orders and updating the status of delivery. Financial flow entails credit terms, payment schedules, e-payments, discount information, and consignment and ownership arrangements. Below is a figure that shows the basic supply chain as illustrated by Habib (2010).

Figure 1

All five participants are connected through the flow of information up and down the chain.

Physical flow comprises the storage and movement of materials and goods, it represents the most significant part of the supply chain. Additionally, the two-way information flow is very important to keep all supply chain participants about the flow of services/goods in both directions and hence detect possible problems promptly, as well as to control the flow. Financial flow is also vital considering that all supply chain participants want to be paid for their services and products as soon as possible or in time.

A supply chain management that is efficient, encompasses all supply chain participants that are all movements of services, goods, cash flows, and information. Galicic and Pilepic (2007) indicated that information is a great demand commodity, its reliability and transmission has become a key of interest to several people, and not only the supply chain participants. According to Arsovski and Rankovic (2011), businesses that have excelled in the implementation of supply chain management processes, technologies, and analytical tools have enjoyed many benefits. These benefits include having greater control of the quality standards of the suppliers because of better coordination, strong relationship, and collaboration among supply chain members. Secondly, better processes that are streamlined, short lead times, and replenishment, and enhanced readiness and utilization of equipment. Third, enhanced corporation and communication among supply chain members leading to enhanced process/product designs. An additional benefit includes the fast response of customers and improved performance in the delivery process. Fifth, improved scheduling and Business models, business strategy and innovation. Long range planning capabilities and forecasting accuracy. Sixth, better responsiveness and higher productivity to demand fluctuations, and lastly, lower inventory levels throughout the chain and substantial cost reduction.

2. Mobile technology and supply chain management

Mobile technology according to IDC (2014) has changed the daily business life of many people and it is very much present in almost all modern business areas. The rise in the number of mobile phones globally and access to the healthy lifestyles. This includes disseminating information on nutrition, exercise, and general lifestyle choices. The Internet has enabled many activity performances regardless of the location of the user or the business location. Traditional business operations are being replaced increasingly by the e-environment, and because of the rapid mobile technology development, an increasing number of activities in businesses are directed towards mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Umney (2011) found out that an increasing number of supply chain managers are using their mobile devices especially smartphones in managing their tasks. Majorly, they have been using them in improving the flow of information around the supply chain, for instance, for transmission of reports and tracking data, or for sending alerts when the process goes astray from the schedule. However, in most instances, the mailbox still is the main tool of the supply chain manager.

The new technologies development, especially in Mobile devices, was accompanied by new trends. Car et al. (2014) observed that one of the trends was the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept with the employees accessing company resources using their own mobile devices. This trend is being influenced by the technological progress of smartphones whose software and hardware solutions can be compared to classical computers. This kind of approach to company resources can be applied in supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry so that the logistics managers can be in a position to have the information about an employee location or certain pharmaceutical goods or services at any given point in time, or when required. Habib (2010) stated that the implementation of these concepts also increases the employees’ productivity who have access to all the relevant information in the supply chain promptly. However, this concept disadvantage is reflected in the company’s security policy because the pharmaceutical industry’s IT departments are faced with the issue of providing access to the resources by various devices or by different operating systems.

The advantage of using mobile and modern wireless technologies in the pharmaceutical industry supply chain management is in providing highly accurate, fast, and efficient means of collection and sharing of data and information on the movement of the pharmaceutical goods and other important events in the industry (Arsovski and Rankovic, 2011). Islam, Islam, & Mazumder (2010) noted that smartphones equipped with a barcode scanner, Wi-Fi, RFID chip, GPS, camera of high quality, and other mobile devices are available everywhere and that explains why they are implemented in the logistics sector of supply chain management. The accelerated development and growth of smartphones and mobile technologies have made many retail companies and businesses adopt new solutions and apply them in the processes of creating logistics products in the pharmaceuticals industry.

Jenkins (2013) indicated that by using mobile technologies, participants in the supply chain can reach new levels of productivity and visibility by improving their location, purchase, inventory, and transportation decisions. The location decisions can be supported by using handheld devices in capturing real-time data on the location of manufacturing, purchasing, and facilities of distribution. Mobile devices that are aware of the current location and point of sales terminals that can quickly find the cheapest materials can support market during promotion times. Getting a cut off discount on a certain amount of purchase decisions. Inventory decisions are specifically impacted by the handheld bar code readers that are in large numbers that can read goods at hand as well as update inventories through wireless connections in real-time. Lastly, monitoring of transport activities can be done through barcode readers and detectors that capture the movement of items as they are transported in different stages.

Roach (2011) observed that another function of the supply chain that is being enhanced by mobile devices is tracking and management of assets. Bar code scanners and mobile RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is becoming very popular as a way for businesses to keep tabs on high-value equipment and transportation assets. RFID technology is based on the transmission of data via radio waves and radio frequency that can be used in identifying and tracking products. Galicia and Šimunic (2006, p. 211) explained that RFID technology comprises three basic elements, an RFID controller, which is mostly a computer, a reader, and an RFID tag (transponder). RFID technology in retail companies helps in writing and reading data from the RFID tags. Galicic and Šimunic (2006) further asserted that this technology’s advantage is that retail companies can use the collected data through RFID tags in integrating the software that deals with supply chain management, automated ordering, inventory, and storage among others by using the applications enabling RFID. According to Karya Technologies (2014), some of the RFID technology’s currents uses include Point of Sale (POS), warehouse management, asset tracking, logistics, parts or raw material movements tracking within a factory, product tracking in the supply chain among others.

Pan et al. (2013,p. 175) indicated that mobile supply chain management can be characterized as a mobile application layer, such as retail distribution systems, warehouse management systems, shelf management, shop floor systems, mobile point of sales, and consumer serve systems. Table 1 below shows some of the examples of supply chain systems that are mobile-enabled as pointed out by Pan et al (2013).

Table 1: examples of supply chain systems that are mobile-enabled

Type of application Typical operations Perceived benefits
Warehouse management systems The RFID-readers are installed at the warehouse’s exits and entrances to automatically scan pallets, cases, or individual products exiting or entering the warehouse
  • Provision of information in real-time about current levels of inventory
  • Reduced costs of labor
  • Eliminates verification of stock
  • Automated delivery proof
  • Tracking of products in real-time
Retail distribution systems GPS and RFID-readers are installed in the tricks. This enables monitoring of the current stats of products continuously. The RFID infrastructure wirelessness communicates with a terminal device near the area of the driver
  • Real-time management of asset
  • Real-time provision of information about the condition of the products
Shop floor systems The RFID readers are installed on the shelf. This monitors continuously the quantity of the product on the shelf
  • Tracking and elimination of the conditions that are out of shelf
Shelf management The RFID readers are installed on the shelf. This monitors continuously the quantity of the product on the shelf
  • Efficient management of waste prevention
  • Initiation of the theft alerts
Consumer service systems The mobile point of sale consists of a mobile computer that is a handheld that connects the wireless LAN, a compact mobile printer that is Bluetooth enabled, and a payment transaction reader
  • Delivering more personalized services
Mobile point of sales
  • Increasing sales
  • Eliminating the checkout wait times

There are other mobile technology systems apart from the RFID technology that can be useful for supply chain management in supply chain management. The availability of cloud services and the ease of use of mobile devices have made it easy for the end-users to be able to negotiate access to a wide range of innovative services. The advantage of using wireless or mobile technologies is also very much evident in the retail companies that can readily access a client/user at any time, notwithstanding the current location. Car et al (2014) stated that information services accessible through mobile devices are centered on the current geographic position, which is the location and they are referred to as location-based services (LBS) and are also used in supply chains and logistics. On the other hand, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is majorly used in determining the position to find the location of the user and to provide information about services and products. Arsovski and Rankovic (2011) pointed out that in mobile devices today, GPS offers useful applications and a range of features, primarily for navigation on unfamiliar terrain, and vehicle and cargo tracking.

The technologies in mobile devices and their possibilities have become a factor that is indispensable for the retail companies that are following the current supply chain management trends. Based on this, the prerequisites for the mobile supply chain management creation have been created. Car et al (2014) stated that mobile supply chain management refers to the usage of mobile devices and applications to support supply chain activities conduct, and ultimately assist businesses in gaining a reduction in costs, competitive advantage, and supply chain responsiveness. Additionally, mobile application availability and their ease of use enable interaction with retail companies in the pharmaceutical industry information systems in real-time. Table 2 below shows the possibilities provided by mobile technology, particularly in the area of supply chain management and logistics as provided by the European Commission (2013)

Table 2: operations, production, and delivery business opportunities for enterprise mobility.

Tracking of goods in logistics and transport
  • Applying and using mobile applications in vehicle tracing and tracking in logistics and transport departments and retail companies. These relied typically on specialized devices, which seems set to further change
  • Using applications for improving route planning, fleet scheduling, tracking, and dispatching
  • Connection in real time between scheduling teams and drivers through personal devices and vehicle terminals that are fully connected
Mobile filed technicians/workers
  • Improving communication between office personnel and the field personnel and increasing the products and services available to the customers. This results in better customer services and employee productivity
  • Detecting maintenance needs and breakdowns in real-time, and using push alerts that are automated to schedule a response. allows faster and better decisions, thanks to a reaction that was quicker to a changed situation that was unexpected in the field
Mobile things internet
  • Leveraging on mobile things internet made possible by 3-D sensors, broadband connectivity, and enhanced capability of geolocation. This turns the devices into human-assisted, intelligent network nodes on the public web
  • Adding social networking to the already existing capability to get a rising form of contextually aware, large scale mobile networking
Mobile supply chain management
  • Managing shop-floor for forecasting, deploying. Monitoring and managing the workforce
  • To mobilize the supply chain allowing quick sharing of information with different stakeholders hence enabling workflow smoothly, real-time data access, and monitoring properly.
  • Tracking movements of orders, and goods in real-time
  • To update the information of the inventory through barcode scanning, enabling common shop floor and warehouse transactions, reports, analytics, and other documentation.
Inventory management
  • To enable tracking of the final products, unfinished goods, and raw materials with sensors and mobile devices from the point of their entry into the factory to the point there are sent to the customers
  • To replace a quality management system that is paper-based with mobile ones

Lightwell (2013) asserted that mobile supply chain management applications can be used in streamlining business processes of various functions of the business to ensure flow exchange of activities of supply chain efficiency from the product inception, design, production, customer service, sales to the end of the products useful life

There is no doubt that mobile technologies, mobility, and mobile applications bring many benefits to retail companies business functions in the pharmaceutical industry that re reflected better information flow, faster decision making, lower costs, higher productivity among others, supply chain management apps will improve these businesses in the pharmaceuticals industry ability in managing supply chains from just about anywhere, so long as there is a mobile signal or Wi-Fi (Umney, 2011).

Mobile technology in Kenya is taking shape. It has changed the way people do business in this modern world. The increase in the number of mobile phones in Kenya and Internet access has enabled the use of mobile technology throughout the country. Traditional business transactions are slowly being replaced by mobile money payments. This is evident in the day to day life through platforms like Jumia and OLX. One of the advantages of using mobile technology in SCM is in proving highly efficient, fast, and accurate means of collecting and sharing information and data on the movement of goods. This is made possible by the use of barcode scanners and GPS. This is mainly implemented in the product flow in logistics. This in turn increases the visibility and productivity in the various levels of the supply chain. Various mobile applications can be employed at the different levels of the chain; Warehouse management, retail distribution, shop systems, shelf management, and point of sales.

3. Role of mobile applications in supply chain management in the pharmaceuticals industry in Kenya

Mobile applications are new in the industry but are being adopted very fast to solve the traditional loopholes that have been there. The applications are designed to run on mobile phones and tablets. The applications are dynamic and flexible in that they can be tailored to meet the demands of a specific retail company. They can also be integrated with other systems so that they function as one for instance a POS system can be integrated with a mobile payment system like MPesa to pay for products directly. SMS alerts can also be employed to notify suppliers and retailers when stocks are low or when a payment has been made. This helps in fast-tracking stock and reducing cases of fraud in retail companies. They allow retail companies in a warehouse to improve customer service activities, manage compliance requirements, assess inventory levels, and provide real-time information.

According to Car et al (2014), mobile applications are one of the most effective and newest communication channels in the market. They are programs specially developed and adapted for use on mobile devices, with the main aim of web services functionality, making available the original ideas and computer applications to the users of mobile devices. The functionality of the applications is based on the users’ needs to offer a service requested or to be used for better information flow or the facilitation of supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya. Islam et al (2010) stated that applications are comprised of software or a set of programs running on a mobile device and performing certain tasks to the user of the mobile devices. Mobile applications are a fast and new developing segment of the world’s information and communication technology.

The significant growth and development of mobile applications were achieved through the introduction of smartphones to the market. The application’s purposes are similar to the computer programs with some corrections in operation and appearance, and they can be used on tablets as well as on mobile phones. The mobile application market is rapidly growing, so the creation of that mobile application presents the most logical choice for firms in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya that want both to adapt to the current market trends and to offer something new. To begin, it results from the fact that the current platforms for mobile provide location-independent information access through fast 4G/3G networks, representing one of the most significant factors in the supply chain management

Lightwell (2013) pointed out that mobile applications distribution centered retail companies to improve their activities of customer service, assess levels of inventory, manage compliance requirements, and provide information in real-time to other managers. Additionally, the update of the mobile apps occurs in real-time, and this facilitates quick decisions to adjust operations of the supply chain to meet client and industry demands. European Commission (2013) indicated that mobile applications currently are attractive to the user groups compared to the traditional field workers in covering many roles of the workers including business managers, executives, marketers, sales, partners, and contractors, general mobile knowledge workers, and warehouse staffs. Moreover, mobile applications can be significant for all management levels an all supply chain participants in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya

Car et al (2014) documented that the rising number of mobile devices resulted in the introduction of several mobile applications some of which are obtained for free, while others are charged before downloading. Considering the peculiarities of the businesses in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya and the stiff competition that is increasing, it is of great importance to monitor the current trends of the world and opt for the creation of mobile applications that would provide support and assistance to all management levels significantly in the retail company and also to all supply chain participants.

This means that the businesses in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya and want to communicate to all supply chain participants in real-time, increase their competitiveness, reduce their costs of operations, and also want to know their goods, leadership and corporation. The company has also been able to achieve competence and gain customers’ trust by bringing and retaining a competent team of employees, and services location, need to design and create their own customized mobile applications. According to Lightwell (2013), there are many benefits to the use of mobile applications in the supply chain and logistics. Some of the mobile and social applications will have in the future to the supply chain are many. Lightwell (2013) indicated that they would enable in the future a network of people to the global manage supply chain. They would also wrap around a transactional workflow of a community of people. Furthermore, mobile and social applications will create education and learning by enhancing communication among students, teachers as well as parents. communication sources that are unified for instant decisions and updates. Additionally, it would eliminate the limitations of the operation such as location with mobility or time of day. Lastly, their advanced connectivity will accelerate the sharing of information and improve the performance of the supply chain.

Arsovski and Rankovic (2011) found out that today on the market, there are many commercial solutions for the different industries mobile supply chain management, and these are developed by major companies in the field of business information systems and software such as Oracle, SAP, Guotong Supply chain Corporation, and Motorola among others. These apply to warehouse management, production control, transportation, and supply among others. Besides the major companies that are engaged in developing mobile applications and solutions, several startup companies are engaging in mobile application development or in finding software solutions to satisfy all supply chain participants’ needs. Before the process of creating any mobile application, to manage effectively the supply chain of the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya, it is essential to take into account the advice and opinions of the supply chain participants that are included. This way will prevent possible bugs and malfunctions in the application creation itself.

Karya Technologies (2014) pointed out that the mobile supply chain management application helps businesses to stay in control of logistics and trade. This solution costs less, monitors the whole supply chain, and delivers a good return on investments. Mobile supply chain management has a middleware with the capability of integrating into any supply chain management database/application, which the pharmaceutical retail companies and businesses in Kenya currently have. The main features and benefits of the supply chain management mobile application are; monitoring of movement of stock from the warehouse, tracking of shipment and fleet, reconciling inventory, and monitoring customer shipments

Jenkins (2013) observed that several apps for the supply chain management sector have already been creating, allowing employees to be updated with supply management in real-time. The developed mobile apps allow users to get to know a lot of information such as dispatching capture and retrieval, tracking of route progress and driver, event, and location reporting. Software solutions (2013) asserted that application for supply chain management can assist businesses in Samsung’s Diversification Strategy: The Case of Samsung Motors Inc. Long Range planning transportation, distribution of many goods from one point to the next destination. Featured with fleet management, logistics management, and inventory management enables businesses to monitor and track products. Additionally, it is possible to develop an application with additional features and innovative content that was proposed by the business and retail companies in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya to improve competitiveness in the market and supply chain management.

Given that supply chain management, mobile applications have not yet been accepted fully by all logistic retail companies, there is a higher expectation in the expansion in use, considering that the mobile industry is one of the fastest-growing global industries currently. Clients/users are also another reason for the rapid technological development. Contemporary users or clients want to understand in advance what they can gain or expect from a certain service or product of a retail company or business in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya, what prices to pay for the service or product as well as other important pieces of information. In real-time, mobile application technology allows all users to be informed about anything they have an interest in, which is of great importance in the pharmaceutical industry’s modern supply chain in Kenya. The modern supply chains have realized the significance of mobile applications and the significance of accurate and timely information and using that as a basis, they have started with the mobile technology implementation in supply chain management.

Conclusion

The literature review has provided a review of the mobile technology that is applicable to supply chain management. Businesses and firms in the pharmaceutical industry that have a desire of being competitive in the market should start adopting new technologies, particularly mobile technologies in supply chain management. Mobility is significant because it brings many benefits such as increased productivity, reduced costs, more satisfied guests or customers among other benefits

In modern supply chain management, the flow of information is one of the crucial items, and mobile applications and mobile technologies allow all supply chain participants to obtain in real-time the necessary information. To properly manage modern supply chains and leave out mobile applications and mobile technologies is unthinkable. The managers of the business and retail companies in the pharmaceutical industries in Kenya need to recognize the advantages of implementing such technology and enlighten all supply chain participants about its capabilities.

Because of constant changes especially in the information and communication technologies field, it is essential to monitor continuously the father’s technology development and keep pace with the industry competitors in the market that is increasingly demanding. Those retail companies in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya that have recognized the importance and role of new technologies particularly mobile technologies in supply chain management will easily follow all processes of business in the supply chain resulting in satisfaction of all participants and reduced costs.

METHODOLOGY

This chapter discusses the study area, research design, and unit of analysis, population, sampling procedure, methods of data collection and data analysis, and ethical considerations as well.

Research design

The study adopted an exploratory case-study methodology to research a large pharmaceutical company that operates both in Nairobi city and Embu towns in Kenya. Because there was insufficient research in this study area, especially in the context of Kenya, a developing country, an exploratory case study research design was regarded as the most suitable. Furthermore, the exploratory case study method is appropriate for a preliminary exploration of something that has not been fully defined or clearly defined (Yin, 2008; Williamson & Bow, 2002). This methodology has also been used widely in several supply chain management studies (Lau 2012; Hilletofth & Hilmola 2008; Hilletofth, Ericsson & Lumsden 2010; Hilletofth, Ericsson & Christopher 2009).

The main analysis unit was the pharmaceutical chain in Nairobi and Embu County in Kenya, which are some of the most populous counties in Kenya (Kenya Bureau of statistics, 2013). The embedded unit of analysis is the distributors, suppliers, and retailers of pharmaceutical products. In this study, Embu pharmaceuticals limited is used as a single case study in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya. A single case study is designed potentially as at the typical case or as a representative that aims at capturing the conditions and circumstances of a commonplace or everyday situation (Yin, 2008). The chosen case in this paper represents a certain project level including many different requirements of the setting. The company has an IT system that is well formulated and mature knowledge in the supply chain. It assisted in refining the collection of data concerning both the data groups with differing agendas that are sometimes very different educationally and ideologically. Varying audiences, content and the procedures to be followed

The exploratory case-study research design had two phases. First was the exploratory phase that was aimed at becoming familiar with the context of research, gain insights, and raise new questions. The second phase was descriptive and was to analyze the study’s phenomenon in depth. As elaborated by Creswell (2003), the explorative stage involved interviews with the company that provided mobile solutions to the Embu Pharmaceutical Company, as well as interviews with the group managers from the company. The descriptive phase of the study was based on field observation and interviews of improve its customer service to its clients. The associates or the employees from different departments of the company and its retail branches

3.2 The Study Area

The study was carried out in Embu town and Nairobi City. Embu town is a cosmopolitan comprising of a populace of diverse ethnicity and nationality. The case company in this study is a Kenyan based pharmaceutical company known as Embu pharmaceutical company Limited has been in operation for many decades in Kenya. The pharmaceutical company has 4 retail pharmacy outlets and 1 Supplier/ Distributor known as Concord Media Limited, which is its subsidiary. It is located in Nairobi (the head office) and 1 retail shop in Nairobi, while the other 3 are in Embu County. They sell all Pharmaceutical drugs and the Distributor sells Non-Pharmaceuticals like Gloves, wheelchairs, syringes among others.

Population and Sampling procedure

The sample size in this study had two levels, target population, and accessible population. A population, according to Lavrakas (2008), is any finite or infinite collection of individual elements. The sample size was based on the target population of the total number of employees from the company’s retail and distributor subsidiaries. The company has 30 employees, and the study used a sample of 10 participants. A sample, Lavrakas (2008) defines, is a smaller group obtained from a target population that is carefully selected to be a representative of the entire population with all the relevant characteristics.

The study used purposive and convenience sampling in recruiting the participants that met the inclusion criteria. In purposive sampling procedure, the size of the sample is determined by the information required for consideration, and sampling is conducted until the theme saturation is achieved (Pope & Mays, 2000). Qualitative samples are often small in number, less than 20 participants, and therefore, the study used 10 participants, considering also that an in-depth interview was conducted in this present study. The sampling procedure involved selecting fewer numbers of samples at each retail outlet that majorly dealt with the supply chain.

In the first stage, the technique involved the selection random of employees from different branches and subsidiaries to be included in the study. In the second sampling stage, stratified random sampling was used to select a proportionate sample from retail outlets (strata) within branches and subsidiaries selected in the first stage. The participants were selected based on the following criteria: (1) employees had to be working or had knowledge about supply chain management, (2) the managers or IT professionals had to be knowledgeable or always interact within the supply chain.

Recruitment for participants from different retail outlets of Embu pharmaceuticals for this study took place through multiple channels. The researcher officially contacted the Embu pharmaceutical company, explain the purpose of the study, and request contact information for the employees. The personal contacts that were requested include email addresses, phone numbers, and residential areas. Upon getting the personal contacts of the employees, the researcher sent invitations for participation in the study. Similarly, the researcher contacted the management group that offers mobile solutions to Embu Pharmaceuticals Company and inform them about the purpose of the study and the required characteristics of participants. They assisted in informing the members of the units and refer them to the researcher. The researcher in detail informed the participants who had consented to be part of the study. All invitations to the participants included a request for the share their invitations with their colleagues in the company who also deal with supply chain management and also through a snowball effect.

Data collection

The study applied participant interviews and observation of the information required.

In-depth Interview

An in-depth interview was used to collect data in this study. This involved conducting intensive individual interviews with a small number of respondents to explore their perspectives on a particular idea, program, or situation (Boyce & Neale, 2006). A semi-structured interview guide was developed having both open and closed-ended questions. This is a written list of questions or topics that need to be covered in the interview. The interview format was flexible, relaxed, and friendly after creating a rapport with the respondents. Questions were phrased differently and asked in a different order, depending on the participants’ comments and observable moods. Since the interview guide encouraged flexibility and spontaneity, it allowed for more probing into personal experiences. In-depth interviews are also useful in eliciting detailed information about a person’s thoughts and behavior and in the exploration of new information (Boyce & Neale, 2006). By using the open and closed-ended approach, the researcher gets a complete and detailed understanding of the issue under research.

Semi-structured interviews with IT professionals, employees, and related managers were carried out to discuss the issue of supply chain structure, organizational working environment. With a positive culture, and information systems. All the interviews are transcribed and recorded. Thematic coding was applied in the groups with differing agendas that are sometimes very different educationally and ideologically. Varying audiences, content analysis on the transcription of the interview (Miles & Huberman, 1994)

The specifically structured and tailored questionnaire on a 24 point Likert scale was administered to the 10 chosen respondents from the four outlets and one distributor (see Appendix 1). In-depth questionnaires were used because it was possible to be answered by the participants who were only knowledgeable in mobile applications and their adoption and usage in supply chain management of pharmaceutical businesses. The data collection criteria included the following:

  • The respondents should have some knowledge concerning the supply chain management field in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Preferably, they should be involved presently in the supply chain management functions in the company
  • They should awareness of mobile technology applications in the channel operations
  • Income, education, gender, and age of the respondents were not a matter of concern for the study hence were not recorded
  • The researcher had some experience working in the pharmaceutical industry. The researcher also worked for the company that developed the mobile application that the Embu Pharmaceutical Company uses in the supply chain management known as the Biashara Smart Mobile application. That was instrumental in understanding the operations of the company and also get the views of the IT Company offering a mobile solution to Embu pharmaceuticals.

Observation

The observation was also used in the study. In observing the surrounding environment, the changing moods, how comfortable or uncomfortable they seem with mobile applications and technologies. How they interact with mobile applications and with each other. This tool provides information about actual behaviors. Direct observation is useful because some behavior involves habitual routines of which people are hardly aware of (Kombo & Tromp, 2006). Through observation, the researcher was able to put behavior in context and thereby understand it better. One of the researchers has been closely working with the company as a complete participant to collect the required first-hand data for analysis.

Ethical considerations

To fulfill responsibilities as a researcher, an authorization letter from the relevant authorities to carry out this study was presented to the respondents. They were informed that participation was voluntary and that they were not under any obligation to participate in the study. The study would respect their wishes regarding confidentiality of disclosures, and nothing would be printed that they would not wish to be made public. The purpose of the study was explained in detail and consent was obtained from the respondents after signing the consent form. No names were written on the forms but code numbers were used for confidentiality purposes. Before the interview respondents were asked if they were comfortable with the interview being recorded, and that they had a right to discontinue/withdraw from the study at any time. All tapes and transcripts in the researcher’s possession were not be made public. All data that were obtained from this study were used for academic purposes only.

Validity and reliability

Validity is the effectiveness or accuracy with which an instrument measures what it is supposed to measure. Validity occurs when an instrument or method of data collection provides adequate coverage of the issue at hand. To ensure the validity of the study, a detailed description of the research and use of multiple techniques as Creswell (2003) encouraged. The questions in the interviews were objective and did not lead to answers from the respondents. The respondents as well were requested to answer with utmost sincerity and without influence from others. The researcher on the other hand ensured that results obtained could be replicated on other companies in the pharmaceutical industry. The observations that were applied in the research had a direct relationship with the area of study. The results that were obtained can be replicated to other areas of study hence were reliable.

SYSTEM DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE

SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION AND TESTING

DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

The findings from the study were categorized by the interview questions in the questionnaire (appendix 1). The questionnaire targeted 10 respondents from a total number of 30 employees in Embu Pharmaceuticals limited. Using different variables, the closed and open-ended questions were coded. The collected raw data from the respondents were keyed into an excel workbook for analysis. The data analyzed was then presented in the form of chart diagrams, tables, frequencies, and percentages.

General information

The first nine questions of the interview questionnaire outlined the general information section. These questions aimed to gain an understanding of the respondents that were selected to take part in this research. The questions covered the role of the respondents, their town of residence, whether they use mobile money in making their business transactions, the marketing as selling and advertising, however marketing consists of different activities. Kotler and Make define marketing as the set of activities, communication modes they use in business, the frequency of their usage of mobile money services, and how they perceive the reliability of the modes of communication.

  1. Percentage of respondents that uses mobile money to make business payments

Figure 1

The respondents were asked whether they use mobile money to make business payments. Figure 1 above shows a pie chart illustrating percentages of the respondents that use mobile money in making business payments. From the chart, it is evident that 100% of the respondents (sales representatives, cashiers, managers) use mobile money in making business payments. This implies that there are awareness and confidence in mobile money transfer systems available. This is significant in speeding up transactions especially in the retail supply chain industry. However, when asked about the frequency of their usage of mobile money in making business payments every week, 3 respondents indicated that they use it daily. Moreover, 4 respondents indicated that they use it once per week. Lastly, 1 respondent indicated that he uses mobile money approximately three times a week and the other 2 respondents were not sure about their frequency.

  1. Respondents mode of communication

Table 1

Mode of communication Number of Respondents Percentage
Text messaging 2 20
Emails 3 30
Both 5 50

Figure 2

Table 1 shows the results from the respondents about the mode of communication they use. 3 respondents indicated that they use text messaging, 2 indicated emails and 5 of the respondents indicated both email and text messaging. The percentage of the respondents is illustrated in figure 2. However, when the respondents were asked about the mode of communication they use in sending an order to their distributor, 5 indicated email, 4 indicated phone calls, and 1 indicated text messages as shown in table 2 and illustrated in figure 3 below

Table 2

Mode of communication to send an order to your distributor Number of Respondents Percentage
Email 5 50
Phone call 4 40
Text message 1 10

Figure 3

  1. The rate of reliability of sending emails/text messages/ or making phone calls to request a new order of drugs.

Table 3

The rate of reliability Very low low High Very high Extremely high
Emails 2 3 5
Text messages 3 2 2 2 1
Phone calls 1 2 2 3 2

Figure 4

The respondents were asked to rate the reliability of sending emails or text messages or making direct phone calls or new orders or drugs. The responses are presented in table 3 and figure 4. From the responses, the respondents indicated that the reliability of emails was extremely high compared to text messages and phone calls. Furthermore, emails and phone calls were rated very high in terms of reliability. However, all the modes of communication were dependable as they had equal ratings in terms of high reliability. On the other hand, text messages were rated very low in terms of reliability. This could be explained by the fact that emails can be comprehensive, can accommodate a large batch of drugs order compared to text messages or phone calls.

Mobile technology retail-supply chain management services experience

This section covered questions 10 to 14 and it formed the section of the survey that seeks to assess the respondent’s past mobile technology retail-supply chain management service experience. The section will discuss how a mobile application called Biashara Mobile application, which has been used by different companies and organizations in their retail supply chain management is being used by the respondents.

  1. Duration of owning a mobile phone

Table 4

Duration of owning a mobile phone No of respondents Percentages (%)
Less than 1 year 0 0
1-5 years 2 20
5-10 years 3 30
10 years + 5 50

Figure 5

Table 4 and figure 5 above illustrates the duration the respondents have had a mobile phone device. From the results, 50% of the respondents have been owning a mobile handset for the past 10 years and above. An additional 30% have been owning mobile phones for the duration between 5-10 years, and 20% between 1 to 5 years. The implication of this is that the respondents were well conversed with mobile phones, and were at ease in understanding and operating the mobile applications for the retail supply chain management.

  1. frequency of use of Biashara-Smart application

Table 5

Frequency No of respondents Percentage (%)
Not at all 1 10
Not often 2 20
often 4 40
Very often 3 30

Figure 6

The respondents were asked about their frequency of using the Biashara smart application in their retail supply chain management. 30% of the respondents use the application very often, 40% of them often. This is higher compared to 20% who do not use the application often and 10% who do not use it at all as presented in table 5 and illustrated in figure 6. The higher frequency rate of usage of the Biashara Smart application could be because of its ease to use, convenience, reliability, and efficiency compared to the old methods used in supply chain management. Similarly, 20% of the low frequency of its usage and the 10% of not using the application at all could be because of resistance to change is normal in any organization as stated by (Tobin, 1999).

  1. The reliability of Biashara-Smart application to products they were unable to develop. The investment was directed at building a new brand name. The more than two billion dollar investment is allowed Tata to purchase pharmaceutical drugs

Table 6

The rate of reliability of Biashara Smart Application Very low low High Very high Extremely high
No of respondents 0 1 2 3 4
Percentage 0 10% 20% 30% 40%

Figure 7

Table 6 and figure 7 above shows the reliability of the Biashara smart application when purchasing pharmaceutical drugs. 40% indicated that the application is extremely reliable in addition to 30% who indicated that it is very high. The responses correlate with the frequency of usage of the application when purchasing drugs. The statistics also indicate that only 10% believed that the application is unreliable. This could be attributed to the people who have not fully embraced the application when managing their supply chain in Embu pharmaceuticals limited.

  1. How the installation of the Biashara smart application was made

Table 7

The installation method for Biashara Smart Application No of respondents Percentage
Bluetooth transfer 7 70%
Over the air 2 20%
Others (Free trial by the developers) 1 10%

Figure 8

When the respondents were asked how they installed the Bishara Smart application on their mobile devices. 70% of the respondents indicated that they installed it via Bluetooth transfer, 20% over the air and 10% indicated that they were installed by the application developers for free as part of their promotion as shown in table 7 and figure 8. From the percentages, it is evident that the employees shared the application amongst themselves within the company via Bluetooth. This implies that the benefits of the application motivated the employees to share it with their colleagues. On the other hand, the dismal 20% of over air method could be attributed to a lack of awareness of the existence of the application in online stores like google play store. Finally, the 10% is understandable since the developers installed their first application as a model for the company for trial.

Additionally, the respondents suggested several things that they think should be included on the mobile phone application to add value to their transactional and banking needs. One of the respondents in the managerial position indicated that the Biashara Smart application should be improved to enhance selective information sharing, the respondent was concerned that the information shared can be used opportunistically by their competitors to disadvantage their company. Furthermore, other respondents indicated that the application should be improved to have a short message notification on mobile phones when the user is not online or using the internet. This way, it would enhance faster and proactive responses when urgent responses are needed.

Complexity Characteristics

This section covered question 15 to question 17 and it served as the section of the survey that attempted to assess the complexity characteristics of mobile applications used in retail supply chain management. Question 15 aimed at assessing how familiar the population members are with their mobile devices’ advanced features, while question 16 seeks to evaluate how important the simple characteristics of mobile application in retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry would affect their decision to adopt it. Finally, Question 17 seeks to determine how many steps consumers are willing to take or consider as acceptable to complete a retail supply chain management process that is based on the mobile application.

  1. Usage of the most advanced features on the mobile phone/device

Table 8

Complexity characteristics No of respondents Percentage (%)
Yes 2 20
No 8 80

Figure 9

The majority disagreed strongly that they use advanced features of their mobile phones or devices. As shown in table 8 and figure 9 above, 80% of the respondents do not use most of the advanced features of their mobile phones or devices. This could be attributed to a lack of knowledge of their use or inability to understand their importance

  1. The simplicity of a mobile application and how it would affect the decision to adopt

Table 9

Cost characteristics No of respondents Percentage (%)
Strongly agree 9 90
Agree
Neutral
Disagree 1 10
Strong Disagree

Figure 10

The respondents further agreed strongly that the simplicity of a mobile application for retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry would affect your decision to adopt it. This result reflects the opposite of the results from the question of whether the respondents use the complex or advanced features of their mobile devices. Logically, many people prefer simple applications that can be operated easily and can bring more benefits, increase efficiency, and is cost-effective as shown in table 9 and table 10 by 90% of people who strongly agreed and 10% who disagreed.

  1. Steps to follow to complete a retail supply chain management process that is based on mobile application

Table 10

Steps Respondents Percentage (%)
Less than 2 3 30
2-5 6 60
5+ 1 10

Figure 11

The majority of the respondents thought that they would be willing to follow 2-5 steps to complete a retail supply chain management process that is based on a mobile application. This was shown by 60% of the respondents preferring 2-5 steps compared to 30% who chose less than 2 steps and 10% who chose 5 steps and above as shown in table 10 and figure 11.

Cost Characteristics

This was the first question in a set of questions that aimed at evaluating how the cost will affect the adoption of a mobile application for retail supply chain management even if the users had to pay a premium for every transaction in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya. The question tried to assess if the population would still be keen to use mobile applications for retail supply chain management if they had to pay more compared to the amount they would pay if traditional alternatives such as through tendering process were used.

Table 11

Cost characteristics No of respondents Percentage (%)
Strongly agree 3 30
Agree 3 30
Neutral 2 20
Disagree 1 10
Strong Disagree 1 10

Figure 12

From the responses, the majority of the respondents indicated that they are willing to spend money to adopt mobile applications for the retail supply chain management. As illustrated in table 11 and figure 12, only 10% of the respondents strongly disagreed and disagreed that they would go premium to adopt mobile applications for supply chain management. From the results, it is evident that many pharmaceutical industries are more than willing to make investments in mobile technology to manage their supply chain efficiently. This could also be explained by higher costs from the traditional methods used in the supply chain compared to the use of mobile technology. Similarly, given that mobile technology improves efficiency, is faster, effective, connects many partners at ago, many pharmaceutical companies will be willing to spend on it to increase their sales.

General information on mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management

From the general questions asked to the respondent’s applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management, the majority strongly agreed that ease of use, convenience, and efficiency would influence their decision of adopting the Biashara Smart Application. Most respondents were also in agreement mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry have been successful in Kenya. This can be attributed to the successes Embu pharmaceutical limited has experienced in its supply chain operations. This can also be replicated in other pharmaceutical firms across the country to improve efficiency, speed up the process, and connect many partners.

Trust and security concerns for Biashara Smart application

For the trust and security concerns that might affect businesses’ adoption of mobile applications (Biashara Smart) for retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya, the respondents listed many issues. The first issue was whether the Biashara Smart application was developed from the ground because if it was developed from an already existing app or an already existing code, it possesses a security risk especially if the free code was developed by a hacker. This can give the hacker access to the information when the app is being used.

Another issue of trust and security was the data caching of the app. Mobile devices store short-term information or cache as long as possible to increase their speed. This is a security threat especially if a hacker can access easily the information cached. Despite the fact password can be used to protect the app, it would be better if the cache is programmed to automatically get wiped every time the mobile phone or device is rebooted.

The respondents were unsure whether Biashara smart Application went through security tests before being released, but they believed that it is secure since all apps are always properly tested before released to the market.

There was also the concern about the encryption algorithm used in developing the app because if weak encryption was used, it might be easier to crack or be obsolete after a short period of time. Moreover, sensitive information for the users is at risk if the app was developed by weak encryption.

Another security concern was the lack of physical security measures such as a local session timeout. Mobile devices are prone to theft and therefore if the app has no code for entering their passwords periodically, it could be a breach of security if the information can be accessed from stolen mobile phones.

Lastly, there was a concern about whether the app developer will be updating it regularly since hackers look for apps that do not update their apps often and exploit the loopholes

Mobile applications versus traditional methods for their supplies and sales

Lastly, the majority of the respondents also believed that pharmaceutical businesses would rather use a mobile application (Biashara Smart) for their supplies and sales instead of traditional methods of tendering. This could be attributed to its effectiveness in the coordination of products, materials, information flow between trading partners. Moreover, the support for mobile applications for retail supply chains could be attributed to its significance in aiding supply chain activities and this results in the firms gaining cost reductions, gaining a competitive advantage, and being responsive

CONCLUSION, RECOMMENDATIONS AND FUTURE WORK

The paper provided an overview of the adoption of mobile technology for the management of retail supply chains in the pharmaceutical industry. There may be many ways for businesses in the pharmaceutical industry to be successful in the market, but all the ways will revolve around a triangular relationship between the company, competitors, and customers. The success may be realized in form of value advantage or cost advantage or a combination of the two. From the study, the conclusion that can be drawn is that the adoption of mobile technology in the retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry is a necessity and not an option anymore for the industry’s growth and success. The benefits are not only monetary benefits but also lower attrition levels, better channel relationships, and channel and employee satisfaction. The realization of such collateral advantages to a business leads to mutual benefits and happier business dealings. The study elaborated on an insight into the supply chain processes shifts as well as the shift in perception of the customer, which is the basis for the formulation of various strategies for marketing.

Based on this study’s results, it is recommended that pharmaceutical businesses with informed expert IT advice should transits from the traditional legacy systems to mobile technologies that are more effective. The mobile technology-based supply chain management will act as a supply chain method that is cost-effective, which may play a significant role in the future in the pharmaceutical industry. Lastly, it is also recommended that a clear cost-benefit plan for the pharmaceutical business over a specific future period need to be outlined clearly.

The research in the future should test the presented theoretical framework by applying it to other industries, chains, and other country contexts and investigate how the adoption of mobile technology affects institutionalized supply chains

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APPENDIX

Appendix 1

I will be conducting a short survey on the Adoption of mobile technology for the management of the Retail-Supply chain in the Pharmaceutical Industry. I would appreciate it if you answer all the questions. Thank you for your corporation and time

General Information

Please tick appropriately

  1. Employee Role: Manager □ Cashier □ Sales Representative □
  2. Please name your town of residence: __________________________
  3. Do you use mobile money to make business payments?

Yes □ No □

  1. Every week how often do you use Mobile money to make business payments

□Daily

□Once a week

□Never

□Others ___________________________________

  1. Which business communication mode do you use (tick as appropriate)

Text Messaging □ Emails□ Both □

  1. Please choose your mode of communication to send an order to your distributor

□Phone call

□Email

□Text message

  1. Please rate the reliability of sending emails to request a new order of drugs.
Reliability of sending emails Very Low Low High Very High Extremely High
1 2 3 4 5
  1. Please rate the reliability of sending text messages to request a new order of drugs.
Reliability of sending text messages Very Low Low High Very High Extremely High
1 2 3 4 5
  1. Please rate the reliability of making direct phone calls to request a new order of drugs.
Reliability of sending phone calls Very Low Low High Very High Extremely High
1 2 3 4 5

Mobile technology retail-supply chain management services experience

  1. How long have you owned a mobile phone, in years?

Less than 1 year 1-5 years 5-10 years 10 years+

  1. Your frequency of Biashara-Smart application use?

Not at All Not Often Often Very Often

  1. Please rate the reliability of the Biashara-Smart application to purchase pharmaceutical drugs
Reliability of Biashara Smart Application Very Low Low High Very High Extremely High
1 2 3 4 5
  1. How did you install the application on your phone (if you have used the smartphone application)

□Over the air

□Bluetooth transfer

□Others ____________________________________

  1. What would you like to see included on the mobile phone application to add value to your transactional and banking needs? (Optional)

Complexity Characteristics

  1. Do you use most of the advanced features on your mobile phone/device?

Yes No

  1. The simplicity of a mobile application for retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry would affect your decision to adopt it?

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree

  1. How many steps would you be willing to follow to complete a retail supply chain management process that is based on a mobile application?

Less than 2 2-5 5+

Cost Characteristics

  1. Would you adopt a mobile application for retail supply chain management even if you had to pay a premium for every transaction?

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree

General information on mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management

  1. The ease-of-use associated with mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management would influence your decision to adopt it?

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree

  1. The convenience associated with mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management would influence your decision to adopt it?

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree

  1. The efficiency associated with mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management would influence your decision to adopt it?

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree

  1. Do you think mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry have been successful in Kenya? [Yes] [No]
  2. What trust and security concerns do you think might affect businesses adoption of mobile applications (Biashara Smart) used in retail supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
  3. Do you think pharmaceutical businesses would rather use mobile applications (Biashara Smart) for their supplies and sales instead of traditional methods of tendering? [Yes] [No]

Thank you very much for your time and answers