Handelns utvecklingsråd

Selected papers from the 6th NRWC Conference 2018

This special issue of the International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research brings together six selected papers presented at the 6th Nordic Retail and Wholesale Conference (NRWC).

The conference was held in Reykjavik in November 2018 and hosted by the Icelandic Centre for Retail Studies and the Institute of Economic Studies, University of Iceland, with organizational support from the Centre for Retail Research at Lund University, Sweden. The conference was financially supported by the Hakon Swenson Foundation and the Swedish Retail and Wholesale Council.

The aim of the NRWC is to create a forum where Nordic researchers can exchange experiences, promote scientific development and inspire or initiate new research. Although the aim of the conference is to gather researchers from the Nordic countries, NRWC 2018 also attracted a number of participants from countries outside the Nordics. In total, the conference attracted around 100 researchers and practitioners. Prior to the main conference, a doctoral colloquium was held that attracted 18 doctoral students from the Nordic countries.

Around 20 full papers were submitted for evaluation before the conference and 16 full papers were presented at the conference after a double-blind review process. For the special issue, and based on the outcome from the review process, the authors of six full papers were invited to submit revised manuscripts. The papers selected for this special issue concern many different aspects of retailing and retail management – representing the broad scope of the field in terms of both research topics and research methods.

The article by Olsson, Bantigan Paredes, Johansson, Olander and Ritzén focuses on the organizational climate for innovation and creativity in Swedish retail organizations. The paper notes that innovation and innovativeness in retailing is an understudied topic and presents a comprehensive empirical study, based on a mixed-method approach. The study contributes insights into the conditions for retail innovation and finds that retail organizations are still struggling to incorporate innovation on the strategic level.

The next two articles reflect, in their respective ways, the increasing digitalization of retail and the growth of e-commerce. In the second article, Ortlinghaus, Zielke and Dobbelstein focus on the impact of risk perceptions on the attitude toward various types of multichannel practices. The study contributes to the field by providing normative advice on how to improve consumer’s attitudes toward selected multichannel technologies by influencing their perceptions of different risk dimensions. This paper was awarded best paper at the 6th Nordic Retail and Wholesale Conference by the Hakon Swenson Foundation and the Swedish Retail and Wholesale Council for its practical relevance. In the third paper, Kolesova and Singh aim to shed light on how grocery retail should depict products online. The main finding in this paper is that visually complex images, i.e. images with many products instead of one, have a negative effect on affective and cognitive states, resulting in decreased behavioral intentions in the online context.

The next two articles reflect the pivotal role of distribution and logistics in retailing. In the fourth paper, Vukalenko, Shams, Hellström and Hjort seek to uncover the role of last mile delivery in online retailing and present a paper that bridges the fields of retail marketing and retail logistics. The findings support the assertion that last mile delivery experience mediates the relationship between customer’s perception of the online shopping experience and customer satisfaction. In the fifth paper, Haag, Sallnäs and Sandberg present a multiple case study that focuses on how supply-chain-oriented capabilities facilitate in the internationalization processes of retail operations. This paper is based on an empirical study of three Swedish retail companies and introduces a framework of three supply-chain-oriented capabilities present in the internationalization process: leadership, integration and learning.

In the sixth and final paper of this special issue, Söderlund focuses on loyalty programs and how labeling customers as ‘members’ can influence the customers’ sense of belonging and satisfaction. The paper, constructed by two connected studies, finds that customers visiting a store as members of a loyalty program responded with higher levels of a sense of belonging and higher levels of customer satisfaction than non-members, even if there were no particular belonging-related benefits.

All in their own respective ways, the papers in this special issue reflect the ongoing changes in the retail landscape. In the age of online retailing, retailers need to adjust to a changing customer journey, and we need to better understand the conditions of the online environment. As new business models and new retail actors emerge, the traditional retail model needs to adapt. Traditional retail needs to find new innovative ways to stay relevant and to provide a customer experience that creates a competitive edge. The dynamic and insightful discussions at the 6th NRWC gives me a good reason to be hopeful that the Nordic landscape of retail research will continue to grow and produce research that is relevant for both practice and fellow retail research colleagues.

The next NRWC conference will be held at the beginning of 2020 hosted by Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Sweden.

Jens Hultman

Read the articles here: