Challenges at the marketing–operations interface in omni-channel retail environments

Tammo H. A. Bijmolt, Manda Broekhuis*, Sander de Leeuw, Christian Hirche, Robert P. Rooderkerk, Rui Sousa, Stuart X. Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


To compete in today's omni-channel business context, it is essential for firms to co-ordinate their activities across channels and across different stages of the customer journey and the product flow. This requires firms to adopt an integrative approach, addressing each omni-channel design decision from a dual demand-side (marketing) and supply-side (operations) perspective. However, both in practice and in academic research, such an integrative approach is still in an immature stage. In this article, a framework is developed with the following key decision areas: (i) assortment & inventory, (ii) distribution & delivery and (iii) returns. These affect both the customer journey and the product flow. As a consequence of the resulting interdependencies between the firm's functions, addressing the issues that arise in the three decision areas requires an integrated marketing and operations perspective. For each of the areas, the key decisions that affect or involve both the customer journey and product flow are identified first. Next, for each decision, the marketing and operational goals and the tensions that arise when these goals are not perfectly aligned are described. The opportunities for relieving these tensions are also discussed and possible directions for future research aimed at addressing these tensions and opportunities are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)864-874
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Assortment planning
  • Customer journey
  • Delivery
  • Digital business models
  • Distribution
  • Inventory control
  • Marketing–operations interface
  • Omni-channel
  • Product flow
  • Product returns


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