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Research at CFR

Center for Retailing (CFR) sets out to be an academic world leader for industry collaboration and thought leadership in retailing.

CFR offers academic insight and education on contemporary and future retail. Whereas retailers have always served as a platform between manufacturers and consumers, contemporary developments in digitalization and sustainability are leading the industry to transform. Established retailers are adding new channels, service offerings, and business models to stay on top of changing consumer needs and societal demands. At the same time, new actors (such as influencers, direct to consumer brands, digital platforms, and start-ups) are innovating how consumers go about fulfilling their needs.

At CFR we are curious to understand this transformation and seek to contribute managerially relevant insights while advancing academic thinking on the future of retail. We do so by conducting scientific research on the retail industry and its actors using a variety of methods. Empirically we base our insights on systematic studies of actual behaviors, either by means of observation, big data, interviews, or experimental approaches. When possible, we combine individual-level data with behavioral and economic data from retailers.

KEY AREAS OF RESEARCH

lecture_retail_2.jpgIn 2022-2024 the following research themes are in focus:

The New Retail Ecosystem
Sustainable Retailing
Innovative Retail Experiences
The People of Retail
Managing Negative Events

In 2022-2024 CFR are also looking at adding more international collaborations in our research portfolio, and this might lead to additional topics being identified. We also seek to advance an understanding of how more sustainable consumption patterns might come to influence the retail industry and society at large.

The New Retail Ecosystem

Retailing is undergoing rapid changes due to digitalization. These changes profoundly transform the industry as they enable new business models and new actors to become increasingly impactful. Several of our research projects focus on this development. We are exploring how platforms and sharing models might lead to new collaborations and retail offerings, but also how new actors such as influencers, payment providers, technology platforms, and gig workers are entering and transforming the retail ecosystem.

Sustainable Retailing

One of the largest challenges the world is facing is that of sustainability, and the retail sector has a crucial role to play. In several of our research project, we focus on how retailers can change consumer behaviors into more sustainable ones, for example by purchasing products with ethical and/or green labels, reducing carbon emissions and consumption of disposable packaging, and transitioning to more healthy and sustainable protein sources. We also conduct research on how decisions related to environmental and social sustainability are made in organizations and what is needed to enhance them.

Innovative Retail Experiences

Digitalization and sustainability are not only reshaping the retail industry, but also the experience offered to consumers. As algorithms are becoming increasingly powerful agents in retail, data-driven decision making* and automation will be a core part of the retail experience. Several of our projects are following this development, both from a customer and employee perspective, and thus contributing novel insights on how innovative retail experiences can be shaped.

* The retail industry has a long tradition of data-driven decision-making. To contribute novel insights on this topic we collaborate with the Center for Data Analytics at SSE on projects related to the use of advanced analytics, where we use prescriptive modeling to guide retail practice and to explain consumer behaviors.

The People of Retail

Several of our projects bring the focus back to the people of retail: those on the shop floor, those helping customers, those delivering packages. Our research explores the changes that effect workers in organizations in a changing retail landscape: How does technology affect how people acquire new competences and engage with employees? How do employees engage with each other in ways that effects their commitment to organizations? And what are the new ways that retail organizations can engage with the people (employees, customers, stakeholders) in retail?

Managing Negative Events

Research often focuses on what makes business more successful but understanding and mapping the consequences of negative events is also important. In this research, we collaborate with firms and regulators to provide insight into negative events in customer-firm relationships, such as product recalls, service failures, and product returns. We also investigate how to deal with negative events within an organization, such as unethical employee behavior or crises. Providing firms and regulators with empirically grounded insights contributes to a better understanding of how to manage negative events.