The Impact of Omnichannel Operations on Firm Performance

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This dissertation examines the impact of two different omnichannel strategies that firms can undertake to maintain and expand their competitive positions. These strategies range from the integration of information provided across different channels to the establishment of a new brick-and-mortar (B&M) retail format. Specifically, my research questions center on how firms can benefit from omnichannel operations and the potential costs that come with these strategies. The underlying mechanisms between customer demand, order fulfillment, and inventory management are studied using econometric analysis and data analytics based on a large proprietary dataset collected from the retail industry.

The first essay empirically examines the value of pop-up stores with respect to their ability to drive customer demand and fulfill orders. A comparison is also made between pop-up retailing and traditional “permanent” B&M retailing. Building on a quasi-field experiment, I find that having pop-up stores leads to an increase in the overall demand both during and after operations, indicating a spillover effect on demand that goes beyond the pop-up store's limited operational window. From a fulfillment perspective, customers shift from the online channel to pop-up stores when they have urgency in acquiring the purchase. Finally, the results reveal that pop-up stores are not as effective as permanent stores in generating demand; however, the trade-off between revenue and cost still makes pop-up stores an attractive retail format, especially when exploring markets with modest potential.

The second essay demonstrates the impact of sharing B&M store product availability on a firm’s website. Specific attention is given to the scenario where a product assortment discrepancy exists across channels, which aligns with the trend of B&M stores getting smaller in order to reduce operational costs. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I find that this information integration strategy leads to an increase in overall sales. At a channel level, customers shift from the B&M channel to the online channel for a wider product selection, except when purchasing products that are associated with high uncertainty. I further evaluate whether the above effects are sensitive to customer-related characteristics and find that both customer distance to store and customer basket size affect the way one responds to the information about in-store product availability and the product assortment gap between channels.