In tema di... Marketing and Retail

The current scenario is showing deep changes in retailing: new channels, new technologies and new paradigms in the market. For this reason, scholars are starting to question how it will be the future of retailing and which kind of impact it will have on consumers. The following four contributions aim to delineate a research agenda under different lenses of analysis, showing some interesting insights for the retail of the future.


(PAPER): Hagtvedt, H., & Chandukala, S. R. (2023). Immersive retailing: The in-store experience. Journal of Retailing, 99(4), 505-517.

This conceptual article explores why consumers visit physical stores—despite living in a digital-first world—and presents potential ways for retailers to further encourage offline shopping. Although online retailing tends to offer the greatest convenience, brick-and-mortar outlets can offer an immersive in-store experience that combines convenience and interest. The present exposition considers store features within a 2 × 2 typology of convenience and interest and illustrates how these features contribute, or fail to contribute, to immersive in-store experiences. Other factors, such as ambient stimuli that elicit sensory- and aesthetic pleasure, provide additional paths to immersion. The notions raised may serve as a basis for future research avenues in immersive retailing.


(PAPER): Pappas, A., Fumagalli, E., Rouziou, M., & Bolander, W. (2023). More than Machines: The Role of the Future Retail Salesperson in Enhancing the Customer Experience. Journal of Retailing, 99(4), 518-531.

Retail sales have consistently faced threats by technology throughout history, with the recent advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) posing the most recent challenge. It is often said that because of new technologies, retail salespeople will disappear. In this article, the authors challenge this assertion by arguing that humans and technology each possess unique strengths and weaknesses and that each works to affect the customer experience in distinct ways. Specifically, AI elevates the baseline customer experience by improving service consistency, operational efficiency, and multitasking capabilities, thereby “raising the floor” of the customer experience while human salespeople, possessing unique strengths in building customer relationships, showcasing adaptive creativity, and adhering to ethical considerations, expand the upper limits of potential customer experiences thereby “raising the ceiling” of the customer experience. The authors propose a synergistic future where AI and human salespeople complement each other, with human potential ultimately prevailing in delivering a superior customer experience that can be approximated, but not fully replicated by AI. Building upon this premise, the authors present real-world examples of retailers that embody these synergies, and we advocate and assess these instances through the lens of the “seven Cs” representing core customer experience needs: (1) curation, (2) customization, (3) community, (4) cost, (5) customer retailtainment, (6) convenience, and (7) category expertise. Finally, they discuss managerial considerations and propose directions for future research.


(PAPER): Ratchford, B., Gauri, D. K., Jindal, R. P., & Namin, A. (2023). Innovations in retail delivery: Current trends and future directions. Journal of Retailing, 99(4), 547-562.

Spurred on by the transition to omnichannel retailing and advances in technology, the retail delivery process has seen many innovations in recent years. The delivery process, broadly defined, is the set of tasks needed to deliver the product from the retailer to the final consumer. Innovations pertain to modes of delivery, locations of delivery, and trade-offs between delivery speed and delivery charges. The authors attempt to build a typology of innovations and their use, and summarize their potential costs and benefits to retailers and consumers. It is easily seen that many of the innovations can be labor-saving for retailers. However, there has been little evidence of consumer reactions. For this purpose, the authors conduct a national survey to examine the likelihood of adoption of a number of innovations in delivery. They find that although overall interest in these innovations is not high at this early stage, there is a significantly large segment of customers who are more likely to adopt these innovations. These customers are predominantly millennials, have higher incomes, and they are tech-savvy, innovative, environmentally conscious, and value quality. The findings suggest that retailers need to be strategic about choosing targets for successfully propagating these innovations.


(PAPER): Dekimpe, M. G., & van Heerde, H. J. (2023). Retailing in times of soaring inflation: What we know, what we don't know, and a research agenda. Journal of Retailing. 99(3), 322-336.

Inflation is back – with a vengeance. Following the highly disruptive years of the pandemic, the world has experienced inflation levels not seen for many decades. A “perfect storm” of underlying causes including expansionary monetary and fiscal policies during the pandemic, pent-up demand, supply-demand imbalances and commodity-driven cost pressures due to unfavourable weather conditions in various regions and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, all conspired to steeply increase consumer price levels around the world. While current inflation levels are not unprecedented (they were even higher in the 1970s and 1980s), the decades-long period of extremely low inflation experienced in most countries means that current inflation rates continue to shock consumers, manufacturers and retailers. Equally, academic research has very little to say about how to conduct marketing in inflationary times, and that is why this paper presents an overview of what we know, what we don't know and what we argue we should know in the form of a research agenda.

The authors first review key takeaways from prior inflation-focused research in the marketing literature, along with insights that could be derived from related studies that considered other causes of disposable-income reductions. However, given that the inflation literature is sparse, while insights from other forms of disposable-income reduction may not automatically generalize to the current inflationary setting, the authors identify various knowledge gaps along with a wide-ranging set of questions in need of further research in marketing and retailing. They do so, in the spirit of the Empirics-First approach to relevant knowledge generation, by identifying several frequently used retailer-initiated coping strategies. The authors subsequently circle back to pertinent prior literature to help with the interpretation of the observed patterns, identify best practices, and warn against potential pitfalls. The authors hope that this article will inspire cutting-edge research into the consumer-, retailer- and marketing consequences of extreme inflation, a worldwide problem that affects us all and is directly linked to the core role of retailing in the supply-chain channel.


January 2024