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The dimensions of assortment: A proposed hierarchy of assortment decision making

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The merchandise assortment plays a fundamental role in retailing; it conveys the positioning of the retailer, and is a key determinant of image and patronage. However, existing literature covering a 50-year period is somewhat fragmented. A key problem with the literature is that it does not distinguish between different levels and dimensions of assortment, causing potential ambiguity in their interpretation in the modern retailing context. The lack of standardised terminology could potentially inhibit future assortment research in, for example, assortment measurement. In reviewing the literature, the critical dimensions of assortment are clarified with conceptual definitions and a hierarchical classification of assortment being proposed. Further, the assortment research is examined, identifying an imbalance between operational and strategic assortment research. As retail assortments expand and saturate, the need for assortment measurement research is argued with associated implications for retail management.

Keywords: Assortment; definitions; dimensions; framework; merchandising

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Business School, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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