Ellistons Department Store

Merchandising Strategies for a Multichannel Retailer

Anthony Kent , Justine Davidson , Ruby Fowler

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781474208789.006
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Retailing in physical stores and digital channels, online and mobile, has become increasingly important but also more complex. Distribution and communication channels need to be integrated to make shopping easier through a seamless customer experience of the brand. This case demonstrates how organizational management and the operational function of merchandising can cause major problems in achieving these objectives. In particular, it focuses on the location of inventory and how it is managed to avoid “stock outs” in different channels. The case is based on an anonymized fashion retailer with multiple physical stores and a strong online presence. It shows how this retailer has created a competitive advantage with its “endless aisle” inventory management strategy whose aim is to make shopping easier. Nevertheless, increasingly demanding customers who want access to more merchandise, immediate availability, and fast delivery to convenient delivery points, raise questions about the location of the inventory, who manages it and how. The case asks students to consider whether retailers should set limits on merchandise assortment and its availability and whether merchandise managers in the future will have to be “informed editors of choice.”

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