Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe the strategic potential of logistics‐driven packaging innovation in retail supply chains, and suggest propositions for further research and development, providing practitioners with a better basis on which to make strategic packaging and logistics decisions. Design/methodology/approach – An in‐depth case study was conducted at a large global retailer which had implemented an innovative unit load carrier. The case study highlights a previously inaccessible phenomenon, as this type of unit load carrier has only been implemented on a large‐scale in the studied retailer's supply chain. In order to explore the impact of the innovative unit load carrier, the case study draws on a longitudinal research approach. Findings – The case study demonstrates the potential of logistics‐driven packaging innovation in retail supply chains. It provides detailed insights into the impact of an innovative unit load carrier on different supply chain echelons. These insights emphasise the need for a systems perspective in order to understand the total impact of packaging innovations on supply chains. Research limitations/implications – The case study focuses on the impact of a particular innovation on a particular supply chain. Even though the consequences in other supply chains may be different, this study provides detailed explanations and illustrative examples which generate insights relevant to other firms and supply chains. Practical implications – This paper provides an understanding of potential trade‐offs between standardised and differentiated packaging, providing practitioners with a better basis for making decisions on packaging design and development. Originality/value – The paper illustrates the need to consider packaging as a strategic component which contributes to overall supply chain performance. To support strategic packaging decision‐making propositions for packaging innovation in retail supply chains are provided.
International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 19, 2011
Keywords: Packaging; Logistics; Distribution management; Supply chain management; Innovation
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