With brand owners struggling to compete with new products, physical production processes and sourcing logistics, innovation taking place in retail networks is often overlooked. Networks in retailing are comprised by the brand owner, the varieties of single- and multi-brand stores, chains and departments stores, technology and service providers, ownership structures and local level supply chain facilities. This paper analyses theoretical and empirical views of innovation in international retail networks using lead actors in the (Danish) fashion industry as a case to highlight how this industry maintains branded stores as primary retail channels better than other industries. In order to approach the retail network as an important organisational innovation system in relation to brand owners, the aim of this paper is to characterise key elements of innovation in retail networks. The approach of this work is based on four qualitative studies of medium/larger fashion brand owners and their respective retail and service provider networks. The study shows that innovation in retailing has a continuously emergent character with open-ended strategic design requirements and strong utilisation of relations in business networks. The network comprises an innovation system that focuses on organisational learning and iterative development of the intended technologies. Implications of the current study are suggestions to brand owners, network partners and retailers on how to identify, understand, support and promote innovation via this network through systematic management of the network rather than the innovation itself.
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2014, Vol 21, Issue 5, p. 827-835
retailing; Business networks; innovation; fashion chains; innovation in networks; continuous innovation; Retailing