Value Creation Challenges in Multichannel Retail Business Models


  • Mika Yrjölä



business model, value creation, retail, multichannel retailing


Purpose: The purpose of the paper is to identify and analyze the challenges of value creation in multichannel retail business models. 

Design/methodology/approach: With the help of semi-structured interviews with top executives from different retailing environments, this study introduces a model of value creation challenges in the context of multichannel retailing. The challenges are analyzed in terms of three retail business model elements, i.e., format, activities, and governance. 

Findings: Adopting a multichannel retail business model requires critical rethinking of the basic building blocks of value creation. First of all, as customers effortlessly move between multiple channels, multichannel formats can lead to a mismatch between customer and firm value. Secondly, retailers face pressures to use their activities to form integrated total offerings to customers. Thirdly, multiple channels might lead to organizational silos with conflicting goals. A careful orchestration of value creation is needed to determine the roles and incentives of the channel parties involved. 

Research limitations/implications: In contrast to previous business model literature, this study did not adopt a network-centric view. By embracing the boundary-spanning nature of the business model, other challenges and elements might have been discovered (e.g., challenges in managing relationships with suppliers). 

Practical implications: As a practical contribution, this paper has analyzed the challenges retailers face in adopting multichannel business models. Customer tendencies for showrooming behavior highlight the need for generating efficient lock-in strategies. Customized, personal offers and information are ways to increase customer value, differentiate from competition, and achieve lock-in. 

Originality/value: As a theoretical contribution, this paper empirically investigates value creation challenges in a specific context, lowering the level of abstraction in the mostly-conceptual business model literature.