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Postponement and Logistics Flexibility in Retailing
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7330-6500
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation addresses several general logistics problems in retailing regarding meeting a variety of customer demand and availability, efficiency and effectiveness in carrying inventory, and increased logistics flexibility. It builds upon the well-established supply chain principle of postponement, and argues for the benefits associated with it in tackling certain logistics challenges. Classically, most of the scholarly contributions in logistics and supply chain management in relation to postponement and logistics flexibility deal with manufacturing firms. This thesis contributes to the current literature by studying the concepts in a retail context. It shows the contemporary application of postponement, and the potential benefits associated with it. It could serve as a hint for retail decision-makers on prioritizing certain logistics decisions regarding their desired performance.

The thesis aims to explore the application of postponement and logistics flexibility in retailing, and to investigate the resulting firm performance. It consists of a cover and a compilation of six articles, which serve to address three research questions. The thesis has a mixed methods design and consists of two empirical strands. The first two articles report two individually carried out systematic literature reviews on postponement and logistics flexibility, which serve as building blocks for the empirical strands. The first Strand, which consists of two empirical articles, includes qualitative case studies dealing with exploring how postponement is applied in retailing, seeking connections to logistics flexibility. Qualitative data is collected via a myriad of sources and tools. In Paper 3, data is collected on Media Markt, Jysk, and Lidl via interviews, and site visits, as well as from secondary sources on other supply chain actors, including service providers and product suppliers. Paper 4, explores a manifestation of postponement – customization – in upscale bicycle retailing in the nexus of retailers and consumers. It is built on qualitative data collected via interviews and netnography. The second Strand consists of two quantitative articles based on a cross-sectional survey of retailers in Sweden. Paper 5, which is of exploratory nature, deals with simplifying the complexities associated with logistics practices of retailers, and intends to provide a taxonomy of logistics configurations resulting from postponement and logistics flexibility. It also studies the performance differences of the identified groups of retailers. Finally, Paper 6 uses Structural Equation Modelling to explain the impact of postponement on logistics flexibility and well as that of the latter on firm performance. Also, the logistics flexibility-performance relationship is examined in the presence of uncertainty contingencies and logistics integration. Papers 5 and 6 use both strategic and financial measures of performance from subjective self-reported, as well as objective secondary sources.

The results of the thesis show that postponement is gaining increased attention among scholars and practitioners. There is an expanding tendency towards involving other supply chain actors, including logistics service providers and especially consumers, in postponement activities. The case studies point to the different approaches to logistics flexibility and varied performance of retailers. The taxonomy study based on the configuration approach in Paper 5 is an attempt to tackle the complexity in understanding the logistics practices of retailers. Three groups of retailers were identified regarding their logistics configurations based on postponement and logistics flexibility, labeled as Rigid, Speculative, and Responsive. These groups were compared in relation to their financial and strategic performance, and it was shown that if speculation and logistics flexibility are high, then financial performance would be generally higher. If postponement and logistics flexibility are high, then strategic performance would be higher. Also, the thesis provides empirical support for the role of postponement in increased logistics flexibility in retailing. Also, higher logistics flexibility was proven to be associated with higher strategic firm performance. The impact of logistics flexibility on firm performance was shown to be moderated by uncertainty as well as by logistics integrations. As a result, performance is higher when both logistics flexibility and uncertainty are higher or lower. However, logistics integration proved to have contrasting positive and negative moderating roles when considering strategic and financial performance respectively, which could be traced back to the potentially high monetary engagement connected to logistics integration. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School , 2014. , 338 p.
Series
JIBS Dissertation Series, ISSN 1403-0470 ; 100
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25690ISBN: 978-91-86345-55-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-25690DiVA: diva2:781195
Public defence
2014-12-11, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Increasing Flexibility in Supply Chains through Postponement
Funder
Swedish Retail and Wholesale Development Council
Available from: 2015-01-20 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2016-10-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Postponement in Retail Supply Chain Management: A Systematic Literature Review
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Postponement in Retail Supply Chain Management: A Systematic Literature Review
2012 (English)In: Nordic Retailing Research - Emerging Diversity / [ed] Johan Hagberg, Ulrika Holmberg, Malin Sundström, and Lars Walter, Gothenburg: BAS , 2012, 173-194 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Gothenburg: BAS, 2012
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-14516 (URN)978-91-7246-311-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2011-02-01 Created: 2011-02-01 Last updated: 2015-01-21Bibliographically approved
2. Logistics flexibility: A systematic review
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Logistics flexibility: A systematic review
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, ISSN 1741-0401, E-ISSN 1758-6658, Vol. 64, no 7, 947-970 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

There is a lack of consensus in conceptualizing and defining logistics flexibility as a distinct construct among supply chain scholars. The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyse the existing literature on logistics flexibility.

Design/methodology/approach

By taking a systematic approach to literature review, a total of 100 academic articles were content analysed. As a general framework, the classification broadly provided by Zhang, Vonderembse, & Lim (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006) was applied in order to increase the consistency and validity of the review.

Findings

The results show that logistics flexibility has gained an increasing academic attention in the past two decades in terms of the number of published articles. First, the various terminologies often used in relation to logistics flexibility are explored. Second, the definitions of logistics flexibility at various levels of analysis are presented along with methodological considerations of the current literature. It is shown that most of the existing articles claim to study the matter at the chain level. The main methodological tools used in studying logistics flexibility are revealed as well as the fact that the majority of the empirical studies correspond to the manufacturing industry. Moreover, a synthesis of the principal measures used to gauge logistics flexibility is provided. Finally, current and emerging themes in logistics flexibility research are highlighted. The study also underlines the main measures used in studying logistics flexibility.

Research limitations/implications

This paper only focuses on academic articles published in journals and does not include other contributions such as books, etc. The systematic literature review facilitates further conceptual and empirical studies; however, more narrative literature reviews could complement the results of this study.

Originality/value

This paper is unique in the sense that it specifically reviews the literature on logistics flexibility in a systematic fashion. The content analysis has been carried out using NVivo 10 enabling the systematic nature of the review as well as increasing the pedagogical value of the method.

Keyword
Performance, Systematic literature review, Postponement, Uncertainty, Logistics flexibility
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25680 (URN)10.1108/IJPPM-05-2014-0069 (DOI)2-s2.0-84942068204 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Postponement and logistics flexibility in retailing: A multiple case study from Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Postponement and logistics flexibility in retailing: A multiple case study from Sweden
2016 (English)In: Industrial management + data systems, ISSN 0263-5577, E-ISSN 1758-5783, Vol. 116, no 3, 445-465 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how postponement is applied in retailing and how such application is connected to logistics flexibility.

Design/methodology/approach – An overview of the established typological classifications of postponement and logistics flexibility is presented followed by empirical results from three case studies of retailers of electronics, furniture, and grocery in Sweden. The study relies on primary qualitative data gathered on the retailers as well as secondary material on some suppliers including logistics providers for further insight.

Findings – The results of the study show that retailers have different practices when it comes to postponement and speculation; however, there is a growing tendency toward postponement among retailers by exploring new means of applying postponement. The results reveal that retailers that have higher application of postponement seem to be more flexible in their logistics operations.

Research limitations/implications – The paper provides direction for further empirical research of the topic, by indicating the application of postponement is not constrained to the point of purchase and could be extended by involving consumers as well as capitalizing on suppliers’ competences and capabilities. Especially, sales services, software, and upgrades could provide opportunity for further expanding the concept.

Originality/value – The paper contributes to the existing literature on logistics practices of postponement and speculation, as well as logistics flexibility by focussing on retail firms in Sweden. Most of the prior scholarly work on postponement and flexibility is on the manufacturing context.

Keyword
Sweden, Retailing, Postponement, Logistics flexibility
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25689 (URN)10.1108/IMDS-06-2015-0257 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Retail and Wholesale Development Council
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Customization in bicycle retailing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Customization in bicycle retailing
2015 (English)In: Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, ISSN 0969-6989, E-ISSN 1873-1384, Vol. 23, 77-90 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to explore the process of customization by investigating how retailers and consumers interact in bicycle retailing. The paper focuses on three high-end bicycle retailers. Building on qualitative data gathered through interviews and netnography, this study takes both retailers’ and consumers’ processes into account. The results show that retailers capitalize on external and internal opportunities for co-creation, including new technologies, production and distribution innovations, and social media. Retailers’ planning for co-creation plays a significant role in providing a unique shopping experience for consumers. This includes supply chain solutions such as effective inventory and warehousing systems, partnerships and outsourcing, tracking, and postponement, which facilitate simplicity. Retailers rely on feedback from consumers to improve their planning and implementation processes. In terms of consumer processes, several emotions are evident, including the sense of standing-out and self-esteem, fun and coolness, creativity and imagination, and most importantly, the possibility of reflecting one’s personality in self-designed bikes. Systems that are easy to interact with, such as interactive online configurators, contribute to consumers’ cognitive processes. Loyalty and positive word-of-mouth turns out to be a common manifestation of the behavior associated with such co-creation processes. We also reflect on how, by what means, and why consumers and retailers engage in co-creation through customization, mainly pertaining to learning and innovation. Our results also point to various possible outcomes from such processes for consumer and retailers; including expressing ones personality and individuality for consumers, and providing product variety efficiently, and boosting brand image for retailers.

Keyword
Customization; Value co-creation; Bicycles; Netnography; Postponement
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25679 (URN)10.1016/j.jretconser.2014.12.004 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
5. An Empirical Taxonomy of Logistics Configurations in Retailing: The Role of Postponement and Logistics Flexibility
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An Empirical Taxonomy of Logistics Configurations in Retailing: The Role of Postponement and Logistics Flexibility
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25685 (URN)
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2015-01-21
6. Postponement, Logistics Flexibility, and Firm Performance: An Empirical Analysis of Swedish Retailing Firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Postponement, Logistics Flexibility, and Firm Performance: An Empirical Analysis of Swedish Retailing Firms
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25687 (URN)
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2015-01-21

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