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Logistics‐driven packaging innovation: a case study at IKEA

Daniel Hellström (Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Fredrik Nilsson (Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 19 July 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe the strategic potential of logistics‐driven packaging innovation in retail supply chains, and suggest propositions for further research and development, providing practitioners with a better basis on which to make strategic packaging and logistics decisions.

Design/methodology/approach

An in‐depth case study was conducted at a large global retailer which had implemented an innovative unit load carrier. The case study highlights a previously inaccessible phenomenon, as this type of unit load carrier has only been implemented on a large‐scale in the studied retailer's supply chain. In order to explore the impact of the innovative unit load carrier, the case study draws on a longitudinal research approach.

Findings

The case study demonstrates the potential of logistics‐driven packaging innovation in retail supply chains. It provides detailed insights into the impact of an innovative unit load carrier on different supply chain echelons. These insights emphasise the need for a systems perspective in order to understand the total impact of packaging innovations on supply chains.

Research limitations/implications

The case study focuses on the impact of a particular innovation on a particular supply chain. Even though the consequences in other supply chains may be different, this study provides detailed explanations and illustrative examples which generate insights relevant to other firms and supply chains.

Practical implications

This paper provides an understanding of potential trade‐offs between standardised and differentiated packaging, providing practitioners with a better basis for making decisions on packaging design and development.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates the need to consider packaging as a strategic component which contributes to overall supply chain performance. To support strategic packaging decision‐making propositions for packaging innovation in retail supply chains are provided.

Keywords

Citation

Hellström, D. and Nilsson, F. (2011), "Logistics‐driven packaging innovation: a case study at IKEA", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 39 No. 9, pp. 638-657. https://doi.org/10.1108/09590551111159323

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited