Antecedents and Effects of Retail Shelf Availability

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Retail shelf availability research has been limited by the inability to measure stockouts.

Not being able to fully capture stockout occurrences has led to studying either the effects

of stockouts or their antecedents. It has also led to using various fundamentally different

stockout attributes as measures across studies. The relationship between stockout

attributes is not clear, making it difficult to have a consensus on either the drivers or the

impact of stockouts.

This thesis considers both antecedents and effects of stockouts by incorporating actual

stockout events under two different risk pooling methods. The first set of models simulate

stockout-based customer switching (the inventory effect) to study pooling by substitution

for a retailer setting service level goals for two products. The second set of models study

pooling by postponement, termed “instore logistics postponement,” using archival data

from a new shelf sensor technology that captures actual stockout events. An extension to

the second part of this study examines the nonlinear relationship between stockout


Both parts of the dissertation contribute to the stockout literature in different ways. The

simulation work contributes towards reconciling opposing views on the performance

effect of risk pooling through substitution, also showing how different performance

measures may accentuate or mask the impact of stockouts. The shelf technology work

contributes to logistics postponement by studying how a two-tier inventory within the

store may affect stockouts along more than one stockout attribute, and whether less

frequent but longer stockouts are linked to better performance than shorter but more

frequent stockouts.