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Digital product fitting in retail supply chains: maturity levels and potential outcomes

Digital product fitting in retail supply chains: maturity levels and potential outcomes In retail, product fitting is a critical operational practice. For many products, the operational outcome of the retail supply chain is determined by the customer physically fitting products. Digital product fitting is an emerging operational practice in retail that uses digital models of products and customers to match product supply to customer requirements. This paper aims to explore potential supply chain outcomes of digitalizing the operational practice of product fitting. The purpose is to explore and propose the potential of the practice to improve responsiveness to customer requirements and the utilization of existing variety in mass-produced products.Design/methodology/approachA maturity model of product fitting is developed to specify three levels of digitalization and potential outcomes for each level. Potential outcomes are developed based on empirical data from a case survey of three technology-developing companies, 13 retail cases and a review of academic literature.FindingsWith increasing maturity of digital product fitting, the practice can be used for more purposes. Besides matching product supply to customer demand, the practice can improve material flows, customer relationship management, assortment planning and product development. The practice of digital product fitting is most relevant for products where the final product configuration is difficult to make to order, product and customer attributes are easily measurable and tacit knowledge of customers and products can be formalized using digital modeling.Research limitations/implicationsPotential outcomes are conceptualized and proposed. Further research is needed to observe actual outcomes and understand the mechanisms for both proposed and surprising outcomes in specific contexts.Practical implicationsThe maturity model helps companies assess how their operations can benefit from digital product fitting and the efforts required to achieve beneficial outcomes.Originality/valueThis paper is a first attempt to describe the potential outcomes of introducing digital product fitting in retail supply chains. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Supply Chain Management: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Digital product fitting in retail supply chains: maturity levels and potential outcomes

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1359-8546
DOI
10.1108/scm-07-2018-0247
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In retail, product fitting is a critical operational practice. For many products, the operational outcome of the retail supply chain is determined by the customer physically fitting products. Digital product fitting is an emerging operational practice in retail that uses digital models of products and customers to match product supply to customer requirements. This paper aims to explore potential supply chain outcomes of digitalizing the operational practice of product fitting. The purpose is to explore and propose the potential of the practice to improve responsiveness to customer requirements and the utilization of existing variety in mass-produced products.Design/methodology/approachA maturity model of product fitting is developed to specify three levels of digitalization and potential outcomes for each level. Potential outcomes are developed based on empirical data from a case survey of three technology-developing companies, 13 retail cases and a review of academic literature.FindingsWith increasing maturity of digital product fitting, the practice can be used for more purposes. Besides matching product supply to customer demand, the practice can improve material flows, customer relationship management, assortment planning and product development. The practice of digital product fitting is most relevant for products where the final product configuration is difficult to make to order, product and customer attributes are easily measurable and tacit knowledge of customers and products can be formalized using digital modeling.Research limitations/implicationsPotential outcomes are conceptualized and proposed. Further research is needed to observe actual outcomes and understand the mechanisms for both proposed and surprising outcomes in specific contexts.Practical implicationsThe maturity model helps companies assess how their operations can benefit from digital product fitting and the efforts required to achieve beneficial outcomes.Originality/valueThis paper is a first attempt to describe the potential outcomes of introducing digital product fitting in retail supply chains.

Journal

Supply Chain Management: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 21, 2019

Keywords: Supply and demand; Leagile; Retailing; Efficiency; Maturity model

References