Retail Management and e-commerce. Which is the best omnichannel strategy?

15 March 2021

A Case Study that challenges our students to find innovative solutions and possible marketing and retail evolution strategies in the pandemic scenario. An abstract from “Unieuro, Retail Management in a Global Crisis” by Daniele Scarpi, Department of Management, Bologna University, and Annamaria Cofano, WedoLab and Bologna Business School.

This case focuses on a large retailer for consumer electronics selling mostly offline before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Then, the crisis forced stores to open for a limited number of hours and implement measures to avoid crowding. Furthermore, consumers feared contagion. As a result, online sales surged for nearly all retailers. For Unieuro, the balance shifted from 10% sold online, and 90% offline to 50%-50%. Several employees were shifted to follow online orders. The case starts around the end of the first lockdown due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Now that Unieuro has successfully managed the Pandemic, by quickly moving online, it becomes clear that the current 50- 50 balance is hard to be maintained. There are two main options to be discussed here: to decrease the share of online sales, forfaiting in part the gains made during the Pandemic but leveraging on the offline stores, where Unieuro is strong in up-selling and customer assistance. Or to somewhat increase the online sales, leveraging on the better customer information provided by the analytics, on the lower managing costs of the website, and the growing trend of e-commerce. What is interesting is that no option is a win-win because both channels have mixed advantages and disadvantages here, and they seem to target different customer segments. The latter part of the case reports some of the performance metrics of Unieuro online and reports on consumers’ perceptions.


The Study offers different potential angles, designed to challenge students and managers in finding new solutions thinking outside the box:

  • Explore how offline and online distribution channels can be integrated to create an omnichannel -or at least a multichannel- retailing company and how offline stores can be used to strengthen ecommerce. Focus on actions to make offline and online stores from the same company allied, rather than competitors. 
  • Discuss what balance between offline and online sales a retailer should achieve. Discuss how the two channels could offer a different customer experience, therefore targeting consumers with different needs and wants, and how they could help up-selling and cross-selling. 
  • Discuss what constitutes a “good” e-commerce site and a “good” shopping experience and how consumers could be targeted. Focus on actions to make the average online ticket heavier. 
  • Consider after-sales issues: how to maintain consumer trust over time, and what to do next.

Download the complete case study here



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