This review addresses supply chain management issues specific to Internet fulfillment in a multi-channel environment. It provides a systematic overview of managerial planning tasks and corresponding quantitative models. Our objective is to twofold, namely to enhance the understanding of multi-channel e-fulfillment by documenting the current state of affairs, and to inspire fruitful future research by identifying gaps between relevant managerial issues and available academic literature. 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 must 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 operation decisions are ever more tightly intertwined as delivery and after-sales services are becoming key components of the product offering.

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European Journal of Operational Research
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Agatz, N., Fleischmann, M., & van Nunen, J. (2008). E-fulfillment and multi-channel distribution - A review. European Journal of Operational Research, 187(2), 339–356. doi:10.1016/j.ejor.2007.04.024