Information Exchange Between a Retailer and Its Supplier : Types of Information, Benefits, and Challenges in Information Exchange

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Background: As the link between end customers and suppliers, retailers are directly facing the end customers’ demand and meanwhile affected by suppliers’ performance. The integration and recognition of information exchange between a retailer and its supplier is significant for a retailer to operate its business effectively and efficiently. To achieve an effective and efficient retail supply chain, it is necessary to ivestigate and understand in a retailer-supplier interface, what information is given and required by a retailer, what benefits a retailer can obtain from this information exchange as well as what challenges a retailer may face.

Purpose: The purpose is to investigate types of information between a retailer and its supplier, and the included benefits and challenges with the information exchange from the retailer’s perspective.

Method: This thesis is a descriptive-exploratory study with an abductive approach and a qualitative method. The theoretical framework was built based on relevant previous research and the empirical data was collected from nine semi-structured interviews. A multiple-holistic case study strategy was applied, in which five retail companies were involved. Both theoretical framework and empirical data are strongly connected to the research purpose and research questions.

Conclusion: It is clear that there is a great recognition of information exchange between a retailer and its supplier. By analyzing empirical findings, three summary tables regarding the research questions were developed. Some categories are in line with the theoretical framework, while some others were identified from empirical findings. To sum up, eleven types of information, thirteen categories of benefits, and nine categories of challenges with information exchange have been identified from the retailer’s perspective.

Future research: The future research can further: 1. Focus on one specific retail sector; 2. Study offline, online retailers separately; 3. Focus on service retailers; 4. Focus on retailers’ inter-organizational communication; 5. Study from the supplier’s perspective; and 6. Develop solutions dealing with the supply chain, or the inter-organizational complexity.

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