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Retailing at century end: some challenges for management and research

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The aim of this paper is to take stock of key issues facing retail executives and researchers. The synthesis presented is the result of an extended series of interviews and discussions with retailers, their advisors and academics across Europe. The aim is to generate discussion of the issues rather than consider any one issue in depth. The in-depth analysis of specific issues is the subject of further work. Six challenges have been identified for managers as: i) the need to grow continually and the consequent pressures associated with 'bigness', ii) the changing nature of brands in retailing, iii) impending over-capacity of retail space, iv) the turbulent nature of environmental, including consumer, change, v) the balance between externalization and internalization of functions and vi) the unknown impact of e-retail. For the researchers it is suggested that research should move from current descriptive paradigms to more explanatory ones with a stronger theoretical base. The six areas of retail research suggested as important for the next five years are, i) considerations of the nature of the retail firm, ii) risk assessment and evaluation, iii) modelling the organization, establishment and channel relationships, iv) the role of corporate culture and organizational learning, v) understanding the economics of competition and vi) the role of retailing as a catalyst for economic growth in transitional economies. The challenges identified may help to frame strategic thought in the sector and the creation of an agenda for academic research.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-04-01

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