Emmelie Gustafsson

Good fit important for retail and environment

​The provision of experience goods online, such as clothing and footwear, poses managerial challenges for retail supply chains. They need to cope with unnecessary product handling, excess inventory, and additional costs due to customers not knowing the fit of a product before purchase. In her doctoral thesis, Emmelie Gustafsson investigates the effects of and technologies to reduce 'fit uncertainty'.

​What challenges do you focus on in your research?

"Efficiently providing fitting products to customers is a costly process requiring inventory management and customer service. Retail supply chains face trade-offs between cost efficiency and responsiveness in terms of customers' willingness to wait for a product (a delivery lead time constraint), retailers’ ability to stock variety (an inventory-holding constraint), and manufacturers’ ability to responsively supply variety (a production-capacity constraint)."

How do you address the problem with your research?

"To solve, or bypass, these trade-offs, the doctoral thesis applies fit uncertainty-reducing product fitting and recommendation technologies that aim to communicate product fit characteristics so as to support customers in decision-making and final product selection of goods with high fit uncertainty."

What are the main findings of your research?

"The main findings of the thesis are quantification of customer order-placing and -returning behaviours as direct effects of fit uncertainty that disrupt product flow in retail supply chains, carrying negative supply chain effects and causing increases in the following costs: returns handling costs, tied-up capital, inventory holding costs, transportation costs, and order-picking costs. Fit uncertainty-reducing technologies can be used to clearly streamline fit information from retailers to supply chain management functions, including such information as how sales are lost and won on the store floor, thereby enabling better inventory management and assortment planning."

What do you hope your research will lead to?

"I hope that my research results will lead to more sustainable retail supply chain operations that benefit both the end-customers and the supply chains. Especially through more sales, less obsolescence (such as a product that goes out of fashion), and fewer returns. Studying the link between fit uncertainty and retail supply chain performance is important for retailers and manufacturers’ understanding of end-customer behaviour and for improving product development and assortment planning to ensure availability of products that fit."

Text compilation: Daniel Karlsson

The author will defend the thesis on 18 October 2021 at 13.15, see link on thesis' page (pwd: 552016)

Page manager Published: Thu 14 Oct 2021.