Exploring trends, implications and challenges for logistics information systems in omni-channels: Swedish retailers’ perception

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the current trends, implications and challenges of information systems (IS) related to omni-channel logistics. Design/methodology/approach: An exploratory survey study is conducted with 23 Swedish retail companies transforming to omni-channel logistics. The study investigates the retailers’ current situations regarding logistics IS as well as their perceptions of the future development. Findings: From the perspective of leading Swedish retailers, omni-channel requirements drive the implementation of new IS to support effective and efficient material handling across the network and in the respective nodes. The shifting roles and increase in the number of handlings nodes will require flexible IS platforms that can support multiple flows and integrated inventory. The major increase in the implementation of new, critical functionalities is related to real-time, multi-criteria decision making on order allocation to different handling nodes. More advanced IS functionality is also required in material-handling nodes to support the increased degree of automation and continuous improvements with the aim to shorten order-to-delivery lead times. A number of challenges are identified that must be addressed during the transformation to omni-channel logistics, especially related to the growing complexity and decentralization of networks, tougher lead-time requirements and larger product assortments. Research limitations/implications: To support further theory development, 11 propositions related to trends and a schematic framework conceptualizing implications and challenges are submitted for testing in future research. Practical implications: The study highlights several aspects related to logistics IS that are important for practitioners to consider as they undergo the transition to omni-channels. It provides insights into IS functionalities that are likely to grow in use and criticality for supporting material handling and inventory management in increasingly complex and decentralized networks. In particular, the authors stress the need to implement functionality that works across previously separated handling nodes and decision areas. Managers can also use the propositions to reflect on what the near future holds and as input for their own scenario analyses. Originality/value: Previous research has primarily focused on technology that supports the front-end customer experience. This study is original in that it explores the trends, implications and challenges for logistics IS in omni-channels – an area that has not been explored in detail previously. It also studies both perceived and expected changes over time related to the transformation toward omni-channel logistics.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Transport Systems and Logistics

Keywords

  • Distribution, Information systems, Logistics, Omni-channel, Warehousing, WMS
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-411
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Volume47
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes