Integration of sales channels in multichannel retail organizations - Controlling intra-organizational channel conflict

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Objectives of the Study: The expectations of customers have evolved as they increasingly expect a seamless shopping experience while using multiple channels. The ability of retailers to respond to these expectations and remain competitive is perceived to largely depend on their ability to integrate their existing physical and online channels. The integration of the sales channels, however, poses significant challenges. Especially the arising channel conflict within an organization has been perceived to be one of the major barriers to successful integration. The aim of this study is to investigate the intra-organizational channel conflict phenomenon by evaluating which influential underlying factors can be identified to be triggering channel conflict within organizations, as well as by identifying strategies that managers can use to control channel conflict and promote cooperation. Academic background and methodology: The research was conducted among managers of retailing companies and industry consultants with extensive experience in working with multichannel retail organizations. In order to capture in-depth understanding on the perceptions and mindsets of the experts, the research followed a qualitative approach. The data was collected using semi-structured interviews. The data was examined and interpreted using a research model that was built based on an extensive review on the findings of earlier research in the field. Findings and conclusions: The study identified nine sources of intra-organizational channel conflict that are of certain importance when integrating the physical store and online channels, and it indicated that these sources of conflict are closely interconnected. The study also identified that the strength of the conflict experienced, is strongly connected to organizational characteristics and strategy, the business model as well as maturity stage of the integration. The results further indicated that there exists three fundamental management interventions that can be utilized to control the arising conflict, but channel conflict is bound to exist at some level or some form in all multichannel organizations.
multichannel retail, integration, intra-organizational channel conflict, case study
Other note