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E‐tail constraints and tradeoffs

Charles F. Hofacker (College of Business, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)

Direct Marketing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1750-5933

Article publication date: 22 August 2008




The purpose of this paper is to reveal how mental models inherited from offline retailing have impeded both the theory and practice of online retailing, and to suggest fruitful areas of research in online retailing.


The mental models of physical retail suggest physical constraints of various sorts, and yet for the most part, the constraints acting upon the e‐tailer are instead logical, symbolic and cognitive.


Researchers in e‐tailing could benefit from pursuing a set of interesting issues including assortment, customer‐to‐customer value creation, site design and structure, and the importance of network topology.

Research limitations/implications

There are many new topics in retailing that can be explored by marketers, as long as we are willing to jettison some of our cherished terminology and ways of thinking. In effect, online, the retailing mix becomes human‐centric, rather than focusing on physical components.

Practical implications

The skill sets needed to set up an e‐tailing presence are substantially different than those required for offline retailing.


The paper takes an unconventional view of the retailing literature, literature that goes back to the foundation of marketing as an academic discipline.



Hofacker, C.F. (2008), "E‐tail constraints and tradeoffs", Direct Marketing: An International Journal, Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 129-143.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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