Which future path to pick? A contingency approach to omnichannel warehouse configuration

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Purpose: Recent studies have highlighted the importance of adopting a contingency approach to configuring omnichannel warehouses. Nonetheless, research on how various contextual factors influence the selection of warehouse configuration is scarce. This study fills this knowledge gap by exploring how and why certain configurations fit in different omnichannel contexts. Design/methodology/approach: A case study is conducted with six leading Swedish omnichannel retailers. Focusing on outbound warehouse configurations, data are collected through interviews, on-site observations, and secondary sources. A multistep analysis is made, including both pattern matching and explanation building. Findings: The qualitative analysis reveals 16 contextual factors, of which assortment range, requested online order fulfillment times, goods size and total transactions are the most influential. The study shows how contextual factors create different challenges, thereby influencing the choice of the configurations. In addition to market dynamics and task complexity, the study describes four categories of the factors and related challenges that are particularly important in omnichannels: speed, space, economies of scale and tied-up capital. Research limitations/implications: The findings highlight the importance of understanding context and imply that multiple challenges may require trade-offs when selecting configurations, for example, regarding what storage, processes and resources to integrate or separate. To confirm, extend, challenge and further operationalize the ideas and observations put forward in this paper, an agenda with future research issues is given for this accelerating, contemporary phenomenon. Practical implications: Managers could leverage the frameworks proposed for the contextual profiling of their current and future positions. The frameworks provide support for understanding the important challenges and potential trade-offs and developing aligned configurations. Originality/value: This study is original in the way it provides in-depth, case study findings about contextual factors and their influence on omnichannel warehouse configuration.

Sidor (från-till)48-75
Antal sidor28
TidskriftInternational Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management
StatusPublished - 2021

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Transportteknik och logistik


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