Creative Concept or Watered-down Version?
Abstract: The purpose of this to study is to identify factors that influence how a concept store format contributes to a format portfolio, which will be done by exploring the concept store format from three perspectives; customers, manager, and industry experts. Philosophies of epistemology and ontology were considered, where the social constructionism stance was employed. Additionally, the research followed an abductive approach where the qualitative methods semi-structured interviews and documentation for data collection was carried out. Finally, the research adopted a single case study of a specific format in the home furniture sector, with multiple embedded units (i.e. two concept stores). The study focused on reviewing literature within the areas of format development and portfolio management, which includes concept such as format synergies, format objectives and format evaluation. Additionally, theory on customer experience was reviewed, which essentially includes store format choice as well as the in-store experiences shaped by the store characteristics apparent in a concept store (i.e. store location, store personnel, store environment, merchandise, digital touchpoints). A multi-method procedure for the data collection was applied, where semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 customers, 10 managers and 3 industry experts. The interviews were then coupled with documentation in order to increase the understandingbof formats part of the portfolio, as well as in order to better comprehend the information and context expressed during the interviews. The analysis grounded in the three perspectives shows several contributions as well as shortcomings of the concept store format. More specifically, these refer to improved customer experience, market penetration, learnings, revived corporate image, and positive as well as negative financial outcomes. These contributions and shortcomings are the results of several prominent factors which have a determining role for whether the outcomes occur or not. Additionally, we conclude that beyond traditional sales evaluation methods, and in the light of the influential factors, it is beneficial to determine what kind of behaviours the store format prompts and how that behaviour relates to the other formats in the portfolio. Thus, by doing so cross-format mobility and the relative role of the concept store format can be better established.
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