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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2014
Thesis number: 13837
Omni-channel retail in SMEs: How do SMEs employ omni-channel retail strategies?
Author: Fingerroos, Patrik
Title: Omni-channel retail in SMEs: How do SMEs employ omni-channel retail strategies?
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; pk-yritykset; smes; kauppa; commerce; vähittäiskauppa; retail trade; strategia; strategy
Pages: 76
Key terms: omni-channel retail, multichannel retail, retail strategy, channel integration
Purpose of the study:

Continuously present through mediums such as e-commerce, mobile applications and social networks, digitalization has disrupted the retail industry in revolutionizing not only the ways consumers shop and what they expect but also the way retailers operate. Although multichannel retail is well researched, only limited studies have focused on omni-channel retail, thus clearly indicating a need for further academic study. Furthermore, prior research has mainly focused on large retailers, whereas this study examines small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), using Finnish SMEs as the research data. As omni-channel retail is fast becoming a norm for successful retailers, we aim to provide a broad overview of the essential characteristics and capabilities needed for omni-channel retail as well as the challenges therein. We also propose a framework for developing omni-channel strategies, whilst also taking into consideration the numerous challenges currently faced by SMEs.


The lack of existing research has influenced the completion of our research as an explorative study, wherein qualitative research methods based on thematic interviews with SME retail practitioners and retail experts have been used to confirm our initial hypotheses. The interviewees and interview themes have been selected based on findings in prior research, with the aim of allowing us to develop a comprehensive yet in-depth understanding of the omni-channel paradigm.


Our empirical findings suggest that SMEs currently face a number of challenges in implementing and developing requisite omni-channel strategies. The most significant challenges include, inter alia, IT management and operation, understanding customer behaviour and resourcing. In fact, SME retailers lack essential skills in analytics and mobile capabilities, a limitation further fuelled by a lack of resources. Nevertheless, SME retailers can also take advantage of their agility to overcome such challenges. All in all, the adoption of omni-channel retail capabilities is still very much underway, thus demanding further research.
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