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E-Fulfillment and Multi-Channel Distribution – A Review

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This review addresses the specific supply chain management issues of Internet fulfillment in a multi-channel environment. It provides a systematic overview of managerial planning tasks and reviews corresponding quantitative models. In this way, we aim to enhance the understanding of multi-channel e-fulfillment and to identify gaps between relevant managerial issues and academic literature, thereby indicating directions for future research. One of the recurrent patterns in today’s e-commerce operations is the combination of ‘bricks-and-clicks’, the integration of e-fulfillment into a portfolio of multiple alternative distribution channels. From a supply chain management perspective, multi-channel distribution provides opportunities for serving different customer segments, creating synergies, and exploiting economies of scale. However, in order to successfully exploit these opportunities companies need to master novel challenges. In particular, the design of a multi-channel distribution system requires a constant trade-off between process integration and separation across multiple channels. In addition, sales and operations decisions are ever more tightly intertwined as delivery and after-sales services are becoming key components of the product offering.

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