The retail industry is a main pillar of the European economy and has a major impact on other sectors such as logistic, transportation, shipping and payment solutions. Recent technologies and digitalization create changes and challenges for the retail sector, which have not been thoroughly addressed yet. Not only are the providers changing, for example through e-commerce, but also the needs of the customers are shifting. Studies show that customers are moving towards a hybrid model of retailing; on one hand, they want to experience the product and receive personal advice about it, and on the other, they want to be flexible regarding time, place and price. Concepts, like online distribution channels and operations, advanced in-store shopping or digital technology perspectives, are addressed separately in the recent research, and are therefore insufficient to create a general strategy to meet the customer’s need and secure the European retail industry. Therefore, the development of an omni-channel concept including analogue and digital retail strategies is a necessary key factor for the future.
The recent focus of retail research lies on the competitiveness of retailers specializing in either traditional or digital retailing. The aim of PERFORM, Pioneering the Digital Future for Omnichanel Retail Managers, is to establish a European training network for the next generation of digital retail managers focusing on an interdisciplinary approach. This network, consisting of various European universities, research institutes and retail companies, provides a structured and interdisciplinary PhD programme for Digital Retail. The research aims at providing a coherent customer experience and successful implementation of digitalization in the retail industry.
In order to achieve this goal, the network has to provide solutions for the following key factors: traditional and online retailers’ need to adopt and sustain new digital business models generating values for customers. To ensure this, digital retail must implement services that generate value during the customer journey through various channels. Both retailing concepts, traditional and online retail, must use information technology to support operations and integrate new technologies. Advances in technology and analytics allow constant reviewing of operations and therefore introduce new processes, services, logistics and pricing mechanisms that lead to an improved customer experience.
Early Stage Researchers Programme of the August-Wilhelm Scheer Institute
As one of the beneficiaries of the PERFORM network, the August-Wilhelm Scheer Institute offers individual research projects for PhD students. Participants of the PhD programme will receive full employment contracts for a period of three years. During these years, the combination between research and training will be the key factor of the programme.
As participants, early researchers work towards the following omnichannel retail topics:
Recommender Systems for a Connected Customer Journey
“Recommender Systems for a Connected Customer Journey” focuses on leveraging the concept of recommender systems on an omni-channel approach, as well as applying it to the digital sales process. The research will deal with the analysis of customer touch points along with their journey and how they can contribute to a successful conversion. The gained knowledge should be captured in a demonstrator software system that provides shopping recommendations by integrating traditional channels and new local, social and mobile customer touch points. The programme will include a stay abroad in Eindhoven and Dublin.
Using Mixed Reality for Enhanced Product Experience
“Using Mixed Reality for Enhanced Product Experience” will investigate Mixed Reality technologies in the retail domain through the development of use cases in which Mixed Reality technologies can improve the customer experience by virtually enhanced product presentations for example, or by allowing configuration and individualization of product attributes in a mixed environment.
The methods used are qualitative case studies, software engineering and usability testing. The conceptual knowledge gained in the project will be supported by the development of in-store use cases, which enhance the experience of consumers and employers, as well as a prototypical implementation of the mixed reality system. The PhD program includes a cooperation with Scheer GmbH and the Dublin City University.
Shubham Jain - Early Stage Researcher
PERFORM is a project aiming to establish a European training network that prepares the next generation of digital retail managers. To achieve this goal, an interdisciplinary PhD programme, including training and research approaches, is implemented. The programme consists of 15 Early State Researches (ERS) that will work and research on individual aspects of the project. PERFORM is supported by 16 partners, six academic and ten non-academic, from six different countries all over Europe, including Sweden, Germany and Ireland.