Research Insights 14.1 Managing Multi- and Omni-Channel Distribution

Channels, Supply Chains, and Retailing

Source: Ailawadi, K.L., and Farris, P.W. (2017). Managing multi- and omni-channel distribution: metrics and research directions. Journal of Retailing, 93(1), 120–35.

Abstract: The increase in the variety of channel formats, and the progression from single, to multi-, then to omni-channel marketing has made shopping and buying more convenient for consumers, but trickier to manage for marketers—both upstream suppliers and downstream retailers. The first step in managing multi- and omni-channel distribution is to find the specific metrics that will facilitate reliable analysis of the relationship between distribution and marketing objectives. That is our primary goal in this article—to present the metrics, both old and new, that marketers, both suppliers and retailers, need to monitor, and that academic researchers, both theoretical and empirical, should incorporate in their models. We present a basic framework for managing distribution, and summarize the metrics that are relevant to each element of the framework. Then, we lay out what we believe are important questions that multi- and omni-channel marketers are grappling with, refer the reader to what existing academic research has to say about them, and suggest how future research can build off our framework and metrics to supplement what is known and address what is not.


In this article, the authors present a framework for managing distribution in increasingly complex channel structures. In doing so, they point towards important questions that contemporary marketers are grappling with in terms of distribution channels and also summarize the metrics that are relevant to each element of the frameworks.