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SOMA -Shop Owner's Management Assistant: Multi-disciplinary exploration towards a new ICT based solution

Prabhu, Girish; Singh, Vivek

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Abstract: There is a strong need to automate the retail businesses in the emerging markets. Many PC based solutions exist to address the issues involved in automating retail businesses. However, none of these information and communication technology (ICT) based solutions have been able to provide a simple, user friendly and a cost effective solution. We aim to build a low cost, easy-to-use appliance that can be used for automation in small and medium retail businesses. The architecture and design of this appliance is being developed using a multi- disciplinary approach where ethnographers, business researchers, designers and technologists work together to develop a solution that meets user needs. The aim of the project is to build a platform around which various specific instances of the SOMA appliances can be created for various other retail businesses. Apart from user needs for the particular domain, creation of product concepts have also taken into account frequent interruptions in electrical power supply, other environmental issues such as dust, pest-manifestation and customers' resistance to high spending on consumables or as service charges. This paper focuses more on the user needs, business, and design considerations.

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