Business trends, logistics challenges, Western European markets


The purpose of this article is to (1) summarise and structure recent literature about overall business trends in the retail industry, in particular those present in the Western European markets, and (2) outline the more specific logistics challenges that are related to these trends. The study is based on a literature review conducted during autumn 2009. As one of the dominating markets in Western Europe, special attention has been given to the German market and German literature in the area. The results imply that the ongoing demographic and socioeconomic changes in the Western European markets accelerate the four overall business trends of retailers’ geographical expansion into new countries and regions, increased share of private labelling, further specialisation of store concepts, and increased consolidation and vertical integration. From a logistics perspective it can be argued that these trends are related to several logistics challenges that must be handled by retail companies. The most important ones discussed in the literature reviewed include an extended domain of control and logistics responsibility in the supply chain, new requirements on logistics competence, the use of logistics related technology, and support for cost- and service efficient geographical expansion. Although logistics has always been important for retail companies, the results from this study further reinforce the view of logistics as a strategically important capability for retail companies.

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